Packera plattensis (Prairie Ragwort)
|Also known as:||Prairie Groundsel|
|Habitat:||sun; dry, sandy prairie|
|Bloom season:||May - August|
|Plant height:||12 to 16 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|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, the stalks stout and attached laterally along the upper inch or two of the main stem. The flowers are about ¾ inch across, daisy like with golden yellow centers and 8 to 12 rays (petals). The narrow floral bracts are green, woolly hairy at the base.
Lateral stalks are often branched, and several clusters can form at the top of the plant and upper leafs axils. Small sharp scale-like bracts attend the base of each stalk as well as on the stalk itself. Stalks are variously covered in woolly or cobwebby hairs.
Leaves and stems:
Earliest basal leaves are small and oval on a slender stalk with rounded or sharply toothed edges and often deep purple on the stalk and underside, but quickly becoming broader and longer lance shaped with deep lobes on lower stem. Mature basal leaves are up to 3 inches long and ½ inch wide, on a stalk up to 4 inches long.
Midstem leaves are long and narrow lance shaped with sharp deep lobes, nearly clasping the stem, becoming significantly reduced above. Stems are unbranched except in the flower clusters, more or less densely covered in fine, white cobwebby hairs, may become less hairy with age.
Prairie Ragwort, formerly Senecio plattensis, is the predominant Packera species of dry open prairie in Minnesota. Most similar to Balsam Ragwort (Packera paupercula) that inhabits wetter habitats, Balsam Ragwort can be distinguished by its overall less hairy appearance and the mostly unbranched flower stalks.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Lost Valley SNA, Washington County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Dakota and Washington counties.
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