Zizia aptera (Heart-leaved Alexanders)

Plant Info
Also known as: Meadow Zizia
Family:Apiaceae (Carrot)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist to dry prairies, thickets, open woods, shorelines
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] Flat clusters (umbels) 1½ to 3 inches across, made up of 7 to 16 groups (umbellets) of up to 20 flowers each. The tiny individual flowers are bright yellow, 1/8 inch across with 5 petals folded inward and 5 yellow stamens.

[close-up of umbellet] The central flower in an umbellet is stalkless or nearly so while the rest are stalked. A plant typically has 2 to several clusters, at the top of the stem and arising from upper leaf axils.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: compound Leaf type: simple

[photo of basal leaves] Basal and lower stem leaves are heart-shaped, with rounded or blunt tips and long stalks. All leaves have finely toothed edges and are a bit glossy, often with a spot of purple where the leaf or end leaflet meets the stalk.

[photo of stem leaves] Higher stem leaves become compound in three leaflets or just deeply three lobed at the base, the leaflets or lobed divisions narrower, lance shaped. Stems and leaves are usually smooth or faintly hairy. Stems are single, or multiples arising from the base.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is 2-sectioned, oval, slightly flattened, ridged, eventually splitting into 2 seeds.

[photo of seed] Seeds are about 3 mm long, elliptic and mature to brown.


Very similar to Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea) which is generally more common, Z. aptera can be distiguished by unlobed or simple basal leaves and upper leaves compound or lobed leaves in threes where Z. aurea's basal leaves are compound in threes and upper compound leaves are typically in multiples of three. Also similar is Yellow Pimpernel (Taenidia integerrima), which has rather airier clusters, toothless leaflets, and the center flower in an umbellet is stalked (only Zizia species have a stalkless flower in the center).

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Lost Valley SNA, Washington County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Pat - Meeker co.
on: 2012-04-07 19:48:38

This species is much more attractive than the more common Z. aurea. I like the broad glossy basal leaves. There is a nice patch of this near Litchfield, by the railroad track.

Posted by: Molly Stoddard - Fergus falls
on: 2023-06-24 13:07:15

At the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center

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