In the spring of 2019 I planted 5 plugs of Golden Groundsel (Packera aurea, also known by the less appealing common name of Golden Ragwort) in our shady Back Garden. Some two years later, Judy and I are happy with the results.

Golden Groundsel, aka Golden Ragwort, at lower right. This is the back of our shady garden, the fence is against the alley.

First, there are the flowers. The catalogs say the bloom period is May/June but here the flowers have started at the beginning of May and lasted through the end of the month. This is a plant that looks really good close up or at a distance. The individual yellow blooms are small, but collectively they form sort of golden haze. The bigger the patch, the bigger the visual impact.

This picture shows Golden Groundsel’s vertical aspect.

Seeing the almost leafless 2′ flower stems standing so straight is also very satisfying for some reason. The Missouri Botanic Garden website describes this plant as weedy, but that strikes me as unfair.

Second, this plant spreads quickly, by both seed and rhizome, which is a virtue when you have a bunch of bare ground. And it seems to cover the ground effectively, though taller robust plants like ferns can grow up through it. You can cut back the spent flowers if you want to slow the spread.

Golden Groundsel flowers.

Golden Groundsel is a remarkably adaptable plant. Its normal habitat is in moist soil, but it is thriving in a shady spot in our garden that gets pretty dry in summer. It prefers acidic conditions but seems quite happy in our alkaline soil. P. aurea‘s native range extends through most of eastern North America.

Golden Groundsel: closer view of flowers.

Native bees are attracted to this plant, including little Carpenter Bees, Cuckoo Bees, and Halictid Bees.

The heart-shaped leaves remain attractive after the flowers are done.

All in all, a garden-worthy wildflower that should be more widely used, especially in shade.

41 Comments on “Let Us Now Praise Golden Ragwort”

  1. Works very nicely in your garden, great impact. It’s a good bright but not overwhelming yellow I find. I think this is the same plant that farmers in the U.K. got very irate about and encouraged people to dig up and destroy wherever they found it growing, because in theory it could poison livestock. If they ate it. But I read they are smart enough not to.

  2. Thanks for highlighting this plant. It is one of the few plants that can outcompete goutweed, aka snow-on-the-mountain that has reverted to all green and has invaded another property we own. I am picking up an order of plugs on Saturday and look forward to setting them to work there!

      • AH! The COUNT! When the crew turns on their radios in the morning, the radios say “ONE” to designate which channel they are on. The response to that is “AH HA HA HA HA!” I neither grew peonies nor experienced planter boxes, but learned from Sesame Street that peonies grow in planter boxes. I also learned how to pronounce ‘peonies’ properly (or improperly. I will never know.). (That disturbing viral video from ‘the Gay Deceivers’ is deceiving.)

  3. It is lovely when you find a plant to fill a problem area and shade can be tricky if dry in summer. These really shine and create a kind of glowing effect. Great that you have so many bee friendly plants too.

  4. It creates such a lovely golden glow! Your patch is expanding admirably. I’ve tried to introduce this plant twice, with conditions very similar to yours, with no luck. So seeing yours makes me smile. I love all the yellows in your early shade garden.

  5. Hello Jason, the distinctive rounded leaves of this plant look really familiar and I’m wondering now if I pulled some of these out as weeds in the new borders at the back of the garden. I’ll have to keep an eye out, they do look lovely en-masse as you have them there. Very bright and noticeable, especially in the shady areas.

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