3. Heliopsis gracilis Nuttall, Trans. Amer. Philos. Soc., n. s. 7: 353. 1840.
Smooth or pinewoods oxeye
Heliopsis helianthoides (Linnaeus) Sweet var. gracilis (Nuttall) Gandhi & R. D. Thomas; H. laevis Persoon var. minor Hooker; H. minor (Hooker) C. Mohr
Perennials, 30–40(–80) cm. Aerial stems (from creeping rhizomes 4–10+ cm × 1–2 mm, rhizome internodes ca. 20+ mm) 1–2+, stramineous to red-brown, glabrous. Leaf blades ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, 4–8 × 1.5–3 cm, margins regularly dentate to subentire, apices acuminate, abaxial faces glabrous or inconspicuously short-hairy, adaxial faces sparingly scabrellous. Heads 1–3(–5). Peduncles mostly 10–15 cm. Involucres 7–15 mm diam. Phyllaries minutely pubescent on margins and apices, less so on abaxial faces. Paleae lanceolate, apices obtuse, faces glabrous. Ray florets 6–8(–13); corollas golden yellow, laminae 10–22 × 4–8 mm. Disc florets 10–20+; corollas pale brown-yellow (lobes dull yellow), 3.5–4 mm, glabrous. Cypselae dark brown, 4–5 mm, glabrous or minutely pubescent on margins, smooth or nearly so; pappi coroniform (each a laciniate crown plus 1–3 toothlike scales).
Flowering spring–summer. Open wooded slopes, especially with pines; 0–100 m; Ala., Ark., Fla., Ga., La., Tex.
A. Cronquist (1980) and others have alluded to intermediates between Heliopsis gracilis and H. helianthoides var. scabra in Louisiana; I have seen none. Heliopsis gracilis is distinguishable from var. scabra by the abaxially and adaxially glabrous or nearly glabrous leaf blades, smaller plant size, single or relatively few heads, and long-creeping, narrow rhizomes. Presence of H. gracilis in southeast Texas (D. S. Correll and M. C. Johnston 1970) has not been confirmed.
I am uncertain whether the type of Heliopsis laevis var. minor, collected from near New Orleans, is referable to H. gracilis, as A. Cronquist (1980) thought, or to H. helianthoides var. scabra, where it was placed by T. R. Fisher (1957) and others. If the latter, then var. minor has priority over var. scabra.