Tall elephantsfoot (Elephantopus elatus)
Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Tall elephantsfoot is a short-lived, perennial wildflower. Its small flowers are tubular and pale lavender. Flowerheads are subtended by three leaf-like bracts that are hairy and deltoid in shape. Stems are hairy and erect, emerging from a basal rosette of flat, elliptic to lanceolate leaves. Stem leaves are elliptic, sessile and alternately arranged. The abundance of hairs on much of the foliage gives it a grayish hue.
Tall elephantsfoot typically blooms summer through fall. It occurs naturally in flatwoods, sandhills, upland mixed woodlands, ruderal areas and wet prairies. It attracts a variety of pollinators.
The genus Elephantopus comes from the Greek elephantos, or elephant, and pous, or foot. The species name, elatus, comes from the Latin, elat, or raised. Hence the common name, tall elephantsfoot. Both the scientific and common names are a reference to the flat basal leaves from which the tall flower stalk arises.
Family: Asteraceae (Composite or daisy family)
Native range: Nearly throughout Florida
To see where natural populations of tall elephantsfoot have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Soil: Slightly moist to very dry, sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun to shade
Growth habit: 2–3’+ tall
Garden tips: Tall elephantsfoot does well in a naturalized meadow but can also be a nice addition to a more formal wildflower garden.
Tall elephantsfoot seeds are available through the Florida Wildflower Cooperative. Plants are often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery on your area.