Himalayan Viper Grass
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Himalayan Viper Grass
P Native Photo: Gurcharan Singh
Common name: Himalayan Viper Grass, West-Himalayan Salsify
Botanical name: Scorzonera virgata    Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
Synonyms: Scorzonera nuristanica, Scorzonera divaricata

Himalayan Viper Grass is a perennial herb with a stout, woody rootstock. Stems are 10-80 cm tall, rarely simple or paniculately branched, sometimes many branched from the base, slender, erect, grooved. Leaves are crowded at the base of stem, long, thread-like with incurved margins, 5-30 x 0.1-0.4 cm, hairless, stalkless, sheathed at the base. Flower-heads are broadly cylindric or bell-shaped; 2-3.5 x 0.5-0.8 cm, erect, on a long stalk. Stalk is slender, long, usually naked, rarely with few bracts. Outer involucral bracts brownish or pale green, ovate or ovate-heart-shaped, 3-7 x 2-4 mm, unequal; inner linear-lanceshaped or oblong-lanceshaped, 10-20 x 4-6 mm. Florets are yellow, usually 5-toothed. Achenes are pale yellow or pale brownish, lanceshaped, subcompressed, 12-15 mm long, many ribbed, often with a strong median rib, smooth, striped. Pappus is feathery, pale white or yellowish or pale brown, 8-12 mm long. Himalayan Viper Grass is found in W. Himalayas on dry open slopes and moist slopes amidst grasses, at altitudes of 2500-4500 m, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, Mongolia and W. Tibet. Flowering: June-September.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh Photographed in Pampore Karewas, Kashmir.

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