Annuals (sometimes persisting, usually monocarpic) [perennials], mostly 20–100 cm (taprooted; often glaucous). Stems usually 1, erect or lax (branched throughout or distally). Leaves mostly cauline; alternate; petiolate or sessile (bases usually auriculate, clasping); blades pinnately nerved, mostly ovate to obovate or oblanceolate [lanceolate] (sometimes pinnately lobed, sometimes lyrate-pinnatifid), ultimate margins entire or toothed, faces usually glabrous, sometimes villous or ± arachnose. Heads discoid, in cymiform or corymbiform arrays. Calyculi 0. Involucres urceolate to campanulate or cylindric, mostly 2–8+ mm diam. Phyllaries persistent, usually 8 or 13 in 1–2 series, erect (reflexed in fruit), distinct (margins interlocking and coherent early), mostly linear to oblong, equal, margins scarious (glabrous or villous, apices usually green or slightly darkened, seldom blackish). Receptacles flat to convex, smooth or obscurely foveolate, epaleate. Ray florets 0. Disc florets 20–50[100+], all bisexual and fertile or inner functionally staminate; corollas usually pinkish, lavender, or purplish, rarely reddish [orange, white, yellow], tubes shorter than to equaling funnelform to cylindric throats, lobes 5, erect to spreading, lance-ovate; style branches stigmatic in 2 lines, apices truncate or truncate-penicillate (appendages essentially 0). Cypselae (stramineous to brown) fusiform-prismatic, 5-ribbed, glabrous but for stout, blunt hairs on ribs; pappi fragile, of 80–100+, white, barbellulate bristles. x = 5.
Introduced; chiefly Old World tropics, some weedy in New World tropics.
Species 50–100 (2 in the flora).
D. H. Nicolson (1980) pointed out that Emilia is taxonomically complicated with poorly defined, weedy species and an involved nomenclatural history. Emilia coccinea (Sims) G. Don is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental; it is not known to escape and persist in the flora. It keys here to E. fosbergii, from which it differs in having involucres 6–9 mm (lengths typically 1.5 times diameters). In cultivation, it has bright red to dark orange corollas. Nicolson provided drawings that illustrate the distinctions.
|1||Leaves mostly in proximal 1/2, usually petiolate, blades ovate to obovate or oblanceolate, mostly 5–12 × 1.5–4.5 cm, margins often deeply lobed to lyrate-pinnatifid; involucres mostly urceolate to campanulate, relatively slender, lengths mostly 3–4 times diams.; florets 15–30[–40]||Emilia sonchifolia|
|1||Leaves ± equally distributed, sessile and auriculate to winged-petiolate and clasping, blades oblanceolate to pandurate, mostly 5–10 × 3–5 cm, margins entire, toothed, or weakly lobed; involucres mostly campanulate to cylindric, relatively thick, lengths 1.5–2(–3) times diams.; florets usually 50–60+||Emilia fosbergii|