Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Tarweed - Madia Sp.

Family: Aster [E-flora]

Madia glomerata

Madia glomerata

Madia glomerata

Madia glomerata

"Annual, 0.5–25 dm. Stem: erect. Leaf: proximal opposite, often in rosettes, distal alternate, sessile; blades lanceolate or oblong-linear to linear, generally entire, seldom toothed, coarse- to soft-hairy, generally also glandular. Inflorescence: heads generally radiate, occasionally obscurely so (discoid), in flat-topped or panicle-, raceme-, or spike-like clusters; involucre 1–10+ mm diam, generally ± spheric to ovoid or urn-shaped; phyllaries in 1 series, lance-linear to oblanceolate, each mostly or wholly enfolding a subtended ray ovary, falling with fruit, coarse-hairy, generally glandular; receptacle flat to convex, glabrous or minutely bristly; paleae in 1 series between ray and disk flowers, ± fused or free, phyllary-like but more scarious, generally persistent (falling readily in Madia radiata). Ray flower: (0)1–22; corolla generally ± yellow, ray sometimes maroon or ± purple adaxially, proximally, or throughout. Disk flower: 1–80+, bisexual or staminate; corolla generally ± yellow, sometimes ± purple, tube <= throat, lobes deltate; anther ± dark purple or yellow to ± brown, tip oblong to ± ovate or ± semicircular; style glabrous proximal to branches, tips narrowly triangular, hairy. Fruit: ray fruit generally compressed side-to-side, generally ± 3-angled (rarely cylindric), ± club-shaped, often arched, glabrous, tip occasionally beaked, pappus 0; disk fruit 0 or similar to ray fruit, sometimes obovoid, often ± straight, tip not beaked, pappus 0."

"10 species: western North America, southern South America; introduced elsewhere. (Native Chilean name) [Baldwin & Strother 2006 FNANM 21:303–308] Generally self-fertile (except Madia elegans and Madia radiata). Other taxa in TJM (1993) moved to Anisocarpus, Harmonia, Hemizonella, Jensia, Kyhosia.
Unabridged disk flower: anther base acute to cordate or sagittate. " [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Madia exigua - Little tarweed [E-flora][PCBC][TSFTK]
  2. Madia glomerata - Clustered tarweed [E-flora][PCBC]
  3. Madia gracilis - Slender tarweed [E-flora]
  4. Madia sativa - Chilean tarweed [E-flora][PCBC]

Food Use

"Kalapuya people ate tarweed seeds (Madia spp.)..." [Apostol RPNW] "... many California Indian tribes echoed the practice of the indigenous peoples of Chile by eating the oily seeds of species in the genus Madia and caring for populations of the plants." [Anderson TTW]


"The Indians used to burn to increase the seed crops such as tarweeds [Madia sp.]" [Anderson TTW]

Madia exigua - Little tarweed

Clustered Tarweed - Madia glomerata

"Madia-Anisocarpus-Hemizonella-Kyhosia Complex[;] All the species in this complex in our region have long been assigned to Madia. Not all botanists would argue that four genera, three of them with a single species each in our region, are needed." [Kozloff PWO]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Use

Madia gracilis - Slender tarweed

Chilean Tarweed - Madia sativa

Habitat / Range

"Dry roadsides and disturbed areas in the lowland and lower montane zones; infrequent in S BC, possibly introduced; native range from N WA to CA, disjunct in Chile." [IFBC-E-flora]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

"The origin of this under-exploited oilplant is the Southern Cordillere of Chile and Argentina. It seems to be the only South American species of the 20 Madi taxa. It is easily recognized by its aromatic scent, caused by a dense cover of oil glands (Kunkel 1984). Araucanians developed in this region, where no other vegetable fat sources exist, a humble oilplant. The Chilenean botanist Molina (1782) called the attention of naturalists in Europa to this curious Araucanian cultivar, describing its oil as "identical to the best olive oil". Consequently the plant was introduced to France, where it was cultivated in the 19th century. The cultivation was interrupted on account of difficulties in harvesting the shattering achaenes. During the last World War and due to the great shortage of edible oil in Germany, Briicher and Fischer (Briicher 1977) undertook selections in earlier hybrid populations with considerable success. They combined a better consistency of ripe flower capitulae ("closed heads") with non-shattering achaenae, and a low content of viscocity and glandular trichomes, on stems and leaves, with considerably improved oil content and larger seeds" [Brucher UPNO]

"This plant [M. sativa] is cultivated in Chile, France, Germany and Italy for the sake of the limpid and sweet oil which is expressed from its seeds. This oil is used as a substitute for olive oil. The seeds yield about 41 per cent to analysis and from 26 to 28 per cent to the oil-press, according to Boussingault, whose experiment in 1840 gave 635 pounds of oil and 1706 pounds of oil cake per acre." [Sturtevant EPW]


"The plant is easily cultivated, requiring management similar to seed clover, but, owing to the glutinous nature of the stems and stalks, the seeds require to be threshed and sown as soon as the crop is cut, otherwise fermentation injures them." [Sturtevant EPW]


"Madia is a genus of 18 species, primarily western North American in distribution, but also represented in Chile. Madia sativa, the Chilean species now naturalized in California, was examined for flavonoids by Bohm et aI. (1992) who reported 5,4'-dihydroxy-7-methoxydihydroflavonol (dihydrorhamnocitrin), naringenin, three eriodictyol methyl ethers, and two flavonols, kaempferol 7-methyl ether (rhamnocitrin) and 5,3',4'-trihydroxy- 3,6,7-trimethoxyflavone (chrysosplenol-D)." [Bohm FSF]

Journals of Interest


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