Biennials, or short-lived perennials, 20-70 cm; taprooted (propagating by basal rosettes at proximalmost nodes of old stems and at ends of rhizomes and roots). Stems 1-5(-80 in subsp. cruiseana; from rosette), procumbent, ascending, or erect (sometimes purple-tinged), simple or branched, glabrous or densely woolly, proximally often sparsely glandular, distally sometimes densely so or eglandular. Leaves: (perennating rosettes often sparsely woolly); basal sessile, blades oblanceolate, 3-10 × 1-3 cm, margins sometimes apically dentate, faces sparsely to densely long-woolly; cauline leaves spreading to ascending, blades linear to linear-lanceolate, oblanceolate, oblong, or ovate-elliptic, reduced distally, margins entire, piloso-ciliate, apices obtuse to acute, sometimes mucronate, faces sparsely to densely woolly, sometimes glabrescent. Heads 1-30 in compact to lax subumbelliform to corymbiform arrays. Peduncles 1-6 cm, glabrous, woolly, or sparsely to densely stipitate-glandular; bracts and bracteoles oblong to lanceolate or linear (margins often ciliate), glabrous or woolly, eglandular or sparsely to densely stipitate-glandular. Involucres campanulate to hemispheric, 8-13 mm. Phyllaries in 4-5 series, linear to linear-oblanceolate, 0.6-1.1 mm wide, strongly to weakly unequal, apices usually appressed, sometimes spreading or recurved, usually acute, sometimes attenuate, faces usually glabrate, sparsely to densely woolly, or sparsely to densely stipitate-glandular, rarely eglandular. Ray florets (9-)16-30; laminae 7-12 × 1.5-3 mm. Disc florets 25-70; corollas 6-7.5 mm, lobes 0.5-1 mm. Cypselae 2.5-3 mm, 0-6-ridged (ridges yellow to red-brown, translucent, clavate), shallowly ribbed, faces sparsely long-strigose; pappi in 3 series, outer of linear to linear-triangular scales 0.5-1 mm, inner of 25-35 bristles 5-8 mm, inner weakly clavate. 2n = 18. Chrysopsis gossypina is a highly variable species with a confusing range of variation in habit, leaf shape, indument, and phyllary traits. The very different-looking extremes that closely resemble other species appear to be the result of local adaptation and loss of one or the other ancestral parental traits from the allopolyploid genome. Three subspecies are recognized with mostly allopatric ranges. Intermediates between subspecies occur in areas where the ranges overlap in panhandle Florida.
Interspecific hybridization occurs in panhandle Florida near the coast between this species and C. godfreyi (J. C. Semple and C. C. Chinnappa 1980), and possibly also with C. linearifolia.
Weakly taprooted to fibrous-rooted biennial or more often short-lived perennial 3-8 dm, often decumbent or ascending, floccose-woolly throughout; lvs numerous, oblanceolate or oblong-elliptic, obtuse or rounded, ±entire, the lower to ca 6 cm נ18 mm, gradually reduced upward; heads few in an open infl, hemispheric, the disk 1.2-2.5 cm wide; invol 7-11 mm; rays mostly ca 34, and ca 1 cm; achenes narrowly obovate; 2n=18. Sandy places, often with pine or scrub oak; coastal plain from Va. to Fla. and Ala. Sept., Oct. (C. longii)
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.