Packera aurea (Golden Ragwort)
|Also known as:||Heart-leaved Groundsel|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; wet meadows. moist open woods, stream banks, fens, seeps|
|Bloom season:||May - July|
|Plant height:||12 to 30 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers form in a cluster, often flat across the top in profile, on slender stalks, most of which are attached at the tip of the stem though several stalks may form along upper stem and a few stalks may be branched. Small sharp scale-like bracts attend the base of each stalk as well as on the stalk itself. Flowers are about ¾ inch across, daisy like with golden yellow centers and 8 to 13 yellow rays (petals). The narrow floral bracts are often tinged with purple at the tips.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are mostly basal, the earliest small and oval on a slender stalk with rounded toothed edges. Mature basal leaves can become quite large - up to 4 inches long and wide on a long stalk, the blade oval to more oblong with toothed edges, the tip rounded and the base strongly heart-shaped (cordate). The leaf blade is typically held angled to the stalk, parallel to the ground or angled upward.
Stem leaves become more narrow and elongated with deep lobes, the edges somewhat bluntly toothed, stalkless or clasping the stem. Upper leaves are greatly reduced in size. Stems are simple and slender, hairless except for some sparse woolly hairs when young.
Golden Ragwort, formerly Senecio aureus, can be encountered across Minnesota but it is more predominant in the eastern and north central U.S. It closely resembles Western Heart-leaved Groundsel (Packera pseudaurea), a more western and southern species whose range extends eastward into the open moist prairies of the western southern Great Plains, overlapping the range of P. aurea in Minnesota. The 2 species can share the same habitat, which adds to the confusion. The most distinguishing characteristics are with the basal leaves: the leaf blades of P. pseudaurea are smaller, rarely over 1½ inches long, they are typically held erect, not angled or horizontal, and the base of the leaf is flat or weakly heart-shaped rather than strongly heart-shaped. Some references note the floral bracts of P. pseudaurea are green, not purple tinged, but we found they can be purple tinged as well.
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Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin, Dakota and St. Louis counties, and in his garden.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?