Many Thanks to Carl Hunter for Identifying:
Basket Flower
(Centaurea americana)

This is quite a spectacle to come upon.

It has a bud as if it were a thistle, but no thorns anywhere.

It is quite tall, around 4 feet.

Bloom is a delicate purple, intricate series of "forked-tongue" thin petals.

The base of the bloom has a "cob-web" of coarse white, bristle-like pieces tipped in burgundy covering the bud.

Photos by Aubrey Shepherd and Lauren Hawkins, 7/03
Plants in various stages of growth are visible in these summer views of flora present on wetland near Town Branch of the West Fork of the White River in Fayetteville, Arkansas
Many thanks to Carl Hunter for his identification. This appears on page 232 (image on 270) of his widely known, authoritative book, "Wildflowers of Arkansas"