Packera aurea (Golden Ragwort)

Plant Info
Also known as: Heart-leaved Groundsel
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] 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: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of basal leaves] 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.

[photo of stem leaf] 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.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a small, round fuzzy plume of small brown seeds, each with a tuft of white hairs (pappus) to carry it off in the wind.


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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More photos

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?

Posted by: Pat - Meeker co
on: 2013-04-10 20:06:40

Found growing in a ditch near Lake Manuella. Flowers stay in bloom a fairly long time and should be in everyone's garden.

Posted by: Gary - Carlton County
on: 2017-09-17 17:33:44

In hardwood swamps (black ash with yellow birch and red maple) and in mixed species forested wetlands (black ash, white cedar, yellow birch) often near seeps.

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