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*Celosia argentea Linnaeus. Cockscomb, Celosia, Cresta de Gallo. Phen: Jul-Nov. Hab: Commonly cultivated, rarely escaped or persistent in disturbed areas, such as along creeks. Dist: Native of s. Asia.

Origin/Endemic status: Paleotropics

Taxonomy Comments: C. cristata (with inflorescence distorted into a crest, cockscomb, fanlike, or elaborately lobed, rather than of crowded spikes) is clearly derived from C. argentea; it has been variously treated as a species, variety, or form. Grant (1962) argued for species rank distinction based in part on C. argentea being and allopolyploid derivative of C. cristata, but C. argentea shows both tetraploid and allopolyploid populations. We regard C. cristata as a tetraploid 'sport' of tetraploid C. argentea, long maintained as a striking horticultural novelty.

Other Comments: The 'cristata' form is popular in gardens and institutional landscaping, but is not universally appreciated; Stace (2021) calls it "probably the world's ugliest plant".

Synonymy: = Ar, Bah, Il, Pa, Tx, WH3, Stace (2021); = n/a – Tat; > Celosia argentea L. – C, FNA4, G, K1, K3, K4, NY, RAB, Grant (1962), Judd & Ferguson (1999), Robertson (1981); > Celosia argentea L. var. argentea – F, Mo2; > Celosia argentea L. var. cristata (L.) Kuntze – F, Mo2; > Celosia cristata – C, FNA4, G, K1, K3, K4, NE, NY, Grant (1962), Judd & Ferguson (1999), Robertson (1981)

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Wetland Indicator Status:

  • Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain: FAC
  • Eastern Mountains and Piedmont: FACU
  • Great Plains: UPL
  • Midwest: UPL
  • Northcentral & Northeast: UPL

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image of plant© Eric Keith, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), uploaded by Eric Keith source CC-BY-NC, permission granted to NCBG | Original Image ⭷
image of plant© Radford, Ahles and Bell | Original Image ⭷

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