Annuals or winter annuals (sometimes faintly fragrant), (10-)30-100 cm; taprooted. Stems white-tomentose, sometimes lightly so, usually not glandular, rarely glandular near bases. Leaf blades linear-lanceolate to elliptic or oblanceolate, 2.5-10 cm × 2-10 mm (relatively even-sized), bases not clasping, not decurrent, margins flat, faces bicolor, abaxial white-tomentose, adaxial green, usually glabrous or slightly glandular, sometimes with persistent light tomentum. Heads in corymbiform (sometimes rounded to elongate) arrays. Involucres broadly campanulate, 5-7 mm. Phyllaries in 4-6 series, white (opaque, usually shiny, sometimes dull), ovate to ovate-oblong, glabrous or tomentose (bases). Pistillate florets 38-96. Bisexual florets 4-8(-11). Cypselae ridged, smooth. Flowering Aug-Oct. Open sites, often disturbed, roadsides, fields, pastures, open woods, in various soils, most abundantly in sand; 5-200 m; N.B., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que.; Ala., Ark., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Nebr., N.H., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., W.Va., Wis.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
Throughout the state in dry soil, mostly in pasture fields, fallow fields, and open woodland. The plant has several common names but I believe old-field balsam is the most appropriate because it is the only species of the genus in Indiana that has a balsamic odor by which it is easily distinguished. I knew of a case where a person who was suffering with flux and had been given up by the attending physician was cured by drinking copious draughts of milk in which this herb had been boiled.
Erect, fragrant annual or winter annual, (1-)3-10 dm; stem thinly white-woolly, commonly becoming subglabrous (or even a little glandular) near the base; lvs numerous, essentially all cauline, lance-linear, to 10 נ1 cm, sessile but not decurrent, white-woolly beneath, green and from glabrous to slightly glandular or slightly woolly above; infl ample, branched, and many-headed in well developed plants, flat or round-topped and often elongate; invol ochroleucous or dingy, campanulate, woolly only near the base, 5-7 mm, its bracts acutish to obtuse or somewhat rounded; fls mostly ca 75-125, 3-10 of them perfect; achenes glabrous; pappus-bristles distinct, falling separately, or sometimes temporarily coherent in small groups by means of tiny, interlocking hairs near the base; 2n=28. A common native N. Amer. weed, found throughout our range, s. to Fla. and w. to Neb. and Tex. The var. saxicola (Fassett) Cronquist, found along cliffs and ravines in s.c. Wis., is a lax, slender form less than 2.5 dm, with broader lvs less hairy beneath than in var. obtusifolium (G. saxicola).
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.