Perennials, (1-)2-8(-12+) dm; often rhizomatous or stoloniferous. Leaves mostly basal or mostly cauline at flowering; sessile or petiolate, petioles ± winged (often clasping at bases); blades mostly elliptic, ovate, or obovate to lanceolate, oblanceolate, or spatulate (rarely orbiculate), bases ± cuneate, margins usually toothed (rarely entire), apices obtuse to acute, abaxial or both faces usually resin-gland-dotted. Heads ± discoid, sessile, not individually bracteate, in clusters of (1-)10-40+ in corymbiform-paniculiform arrays 6-15(-25) cm diam. (each cluster subtended by 2-3 ± deltate bracts). Involucres ± cylindric, 1-3+ mm diam. Phyllaries 8 in 4 decussate pairs, the outer 4 ovate, inner 4 lanceolate, all ± chartaceous, margins entire, tips ± spinose to apiculate, abaxial faces of inner 4 usually dotted distally with resin glands. Florets (1-)4(-5+); corollas white or pink to purple, tubes longer than abruptly funnelform throats, lobes 5, lance-linear, unequal (abaxial sinus deepest). Cypselae ± clavate, sometimes ± flattened, 10-nerved or -ribbed, strigillose to hirsutulous; pappi persistent, of 5(-6), 1-aristate scales (look closely for squamiform, gradually to abruptly tapering base of each arista). x = 11. Pseudelephantopus spicatus is sometimes treated as a member of Elephantopus.
Heads discoid, 1-5-fld, in glomerules subtended by 1-3 sessile, foliaceous bracts and resembling a single head; invol of 4 pairs of decussate bracts, the 2 outer pairs shorter, the alternate pairs conduplicate; fls all perfect and fertile, anthocyanic or sometimes white; receptacle flat or nearly so; cor unequally 5-cleft; style of Vernonia; pappus of 5-8 short, rigid, flattened scales prolonged at the summit (in our spp.) into a straight terminal bristle; perennial herbs with small glomerules of heads terminating the branches; our spp. fibrous-rooted and mostly single-stemmed. 30, mainly trop.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.