golden ragwort (Packera aurea)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMON NAMES:
life root
swamp squawweed
golden ragwort

 

SCIENTIFIC SYNONYMS:
Senecio aureus L.
Senecio aureus var. aquilonius Fern.
Senecio aureus var. gracilis (Pursh) Hook.
Senecio aureus var. intercursus Fern.
Senecio gracilis Pursh
Cacalia aurea (L.) MacMill.
Cineraria balsamita Lam.
Senecio aureus L.
Senecio gracilis Pursh

 

CONFIRMATION STATUS: Pending confirmation.

 

TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for gold ragwort
is Packera aurea (L.) A. Löve & D. Löve. Hybrids have been reported
between Packera aurea and Packera paupercula, Packera pseudaurea,
Packera schweinitziana, and Packera tomentosa have been reported.

 

NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.

 

GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

 

Habit: Golden ragwort is a somewhat weedy, short lived, perennial forb

growing from 6 inches to 2 feet tall.

 

Leaves: The two very different kinds of leaves are highly distinctive. The

blades of the basal leaves are 2 inches long and 2 inches across; they are

cordate-orbicular in shape. The slender petioles of the basal leaves are 2

inches long. A flower stalk develops from the center of each rosette. Along

this stalk, there are usually 2 – 3 alternate leaves. These leaves are smaller

in size than the basal leaves and pinnatifid in shape. Both the alternate

leaves and the stalk are hairless.

 

Flowers: The stalk ends in a flat-headed panicle of yellow flowers. Each
daisy-like flower is 1 inch across; in the center there are numerous golden
yellow disk florets, which are surrounded by 6-16 yellow ray florets. Both
the disk and ray florets are fertile.

 

Fruit/Seeds: Each floret is replaced by a purple bullet shaped achene which

is distributed by the wind.

 

Roots: The short rootstock has spreading fibrous roots and it produces rhi-

zomes (and sometimes stolons).

 

REGENERATION PROCESS: Golden ragwort reproduces asexually
from branched rhizomes or from adventitious shoots.

 

HABITAT TYPES: Habitats include wet deciduous woods, meadows,
banks of rivers, streams and lakes, slopes of rocky ravines, and roadsides.

 

SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Golden ragwort prefers full sun to light
shade in wet to moist soils with ample organic matter to retain moisture.
Plants grown in full sun require more moisture than plants growing in
shade. It often forms colonies of plants in favorable habitats.

 

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The blooming period occurs early
spring (March – April) and lasts about 3 weeks.

 

GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Golden ragwort is abundant and wide-

spread throughout eastern United States and Canada. Its native range

extends as far west as Texas and north to Minnesota and Manitoba.

 

SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.

 

IMPORTANCE AND USES: The nectar and pollen of the flowers are
attractive to small bees and flies such as little carpenter bees, cuckoo bees,
and various halictid bees. The caterpillars of the gem moth (Orthonama
obstipata) feed on the foliage.

 

Golden ragwort is a beautiful plant in flower and makes an effective
groundcover even in dry shade conditions. For these reasons it is often
used in native landscape gardens and meadow plantings. It also has
potential as a component of conservation mixes. It will grow well in moist
to wet soils in sunny to shady locations where it naturalizes rapidly.

The root and leaf are used in teas by the Cherokee Indians for heart
trouble, and to prevent pregnancy. Other Native Americans used it to
regulate menses, to aid childbirth, treat urinary problems and to treat
lung diseases such as tuberculosis. It is also used for external ointments
and infusions for ulcers and wounds. The leaves contain a low toxicity
alkaloid (Pyrrolizidine). The foliage is shunned by most mammalian
herbivores due to its toxicity, although sheep are more tolerant and
will eat it.

 

 

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