Packera pseudaurea (Western Heart-leaved Groundsel)

Plant Info
Also known as: False Gold Groundsel
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
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):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 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: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of basal leaves] 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.

[photo of stem leaves] 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

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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More photos

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?

Posted by: Kara H - Northfield, Rice County
on: 2017-05-14 20:33:06

I found Packera pseudaurea in partial shade in our yard at the edge of the woods. The leaves are distinctively upright. It's growing with violets and lily-leaved twayblade in about a 4-foot by 4-foot patch. Hoping it spreads!

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