Packera pseudaurea (Western Heart-leaved Groundsel)
|Also known as:||False Gold Groundsel|
|Habitat:||sun; moist meadows, fens|
|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 0, 8 or 13 yellow rays (petals). The narrow floral bracts are green but may be tinged with purple at the tips.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are mostly basal, early ones oval on a slender stalk with rounded toothed edges. Mature basal leaves are a bit more oblong, larger but rarely more than 1½ inches long and ¾ inch wide, usually held erect. The base of the blade is weakly heart-shaped (sub-cordate) to straight across (truncate), the tip of the blade rounded and the edges bluntly toothed.
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 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.
Formerly Senecio pseudaureus, Western Heart-leaved Groundsel's range in Minnesota is mostly restricted to our western and southern counties and is more consistently an open moist prairie species. It closely resembles Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea), a more eastern and northern species whose range overlaps P. pseudaurea in Minnesota. The 2 species can share the same habitat, which adds to the confusion, though P. aurea can be found in moist open woodlands of eastern and central Minnesota. The most distinguishing characteristics are with the basal leaves: the leaf blades of P. aurea are generally larger, up to 4 inches long and wide, the leaf base is strongly heart-shaped (cordate), and the blade is typically held at an angle or horizontal, parallel to the ground. Some references note the floral bracts of P. pseudaurea are green and not purple tinged, but we found they can indeed be purple tinged. There are 3 varieties of P. pseudaurea in North America, with var. semicordata found in Minnesota.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Lac Qui Parle and Pope counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?