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.
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.
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 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.
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.
I have fallen in love with this plant. It is at the back of the garden, but makes a cheerful yellow haze I can see from the sun porch window.
I would love to know where you got your plugs of the Golden Ragwort. I have an area where I would love to plant it. Thank you.
Try prairienursery.com. Good luck!
The flowers are lovely–like little suns. They have it at prairienursery.com, and I’ll definitely be ordering some.
Enjoy! That’s where I got mine.
I love Golden groundsel. My native is Packera obovata, but it’s the same sunshiny yellow and lovely, evergreen foliage. Nice shots!!
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.
It’s actually one of 7 ‘noxious weeds’ in the UK you’re legally obliged to control and prevent spreading from your land. More to do with its invasive habit harming native flora, but if it gets into silage then the livers of horses, donkeys, and cattle are irreparably damaged. Not a nice death apparently either.
Thanks for your comment. Are we talking about the same plant? There’s a Golden Ragwort in the UK called Senecio jacobaea. https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=299
Like many plants, Packera aurea can be toxic if eaten or even from skin contact. However, the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in Texas says that the plant has “only low toxicity if touched or ingested”. https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=paau3
I see, Jason has clarified that it’s a different plant but with the same common name. I know people who see it as a valuable wild flower but obviously from what you are saying it needs to be kept off livestock farming land in that case.
I think that is actually a related but different plant that has stirred controversy in the UK – Senecio jacobaea, not Packera aurea. https://cdn.friendsoftheearth.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/Ragwort%20-%20Problem%20plant%20or%20scapegoat%20-%20Briefing%20Nov%202016.pdf
Ahh thanks for the clarification, this can be the problem with common names.
Very pretty and so satisfying, I’m sure, having grown that patch from wee plugs.
Exactly. Impressive how fast its spread!
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!
I would like to see those two plants battle it out. I inherited some variegated goutweed. Haven’t pulled it out, but I haven’t seen it reverting or spreading aggressively. I do cut any flower stalks promptly.
I agree that “weedy” is unfair. It offers a lot, especially in shade. I like its attentive aspect.
“Attentive” is a good word for its stand-up-straight character.
I find it growing at the edges of swamps here in very wet ground. It can make quite large colonies but it’s a pretty flower.
A couple of hours south of Tina, we have yet another species: Packera glabella. This is what it looked like in a farm field on March 20, 2018.
‘Golden Ragwort’ is a less appealing name? I like it because it sound like something that grows on Sesame Street, where space allows; perhaps below the window boxe where pansies, petunias and peonies bloom.
You grow Peonies in window boxes. Spent many happy hours watching Sesame Street with my kids. My favorite character is The Count.
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.)
Beautiful! I planted some last fall (deep plugs), and I don’t see them yet. Hmmm… I guess I need to be patient. I really like them, and you show their true beauty in your photos. 🙂
They seem pretty vigorous, so hopefully you will see them soon.
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.
I’m really pleased with this plant, and Judy really likes it as well.
Beautiful! I’m making a note of this. Maybe, just maybe, it will grow in my dry, shady, acidic garden. Thanks for featuring this!
I hope it grows well for you.
Sounds like a good plant for a tough spot. Looks pretty in these pictures.
Such a standout in your back garden. Our local botanical garden grows this interspersed with phlox divaricata for another nice look.
Sounds like an excellent combination.
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.
Hmm … I wonder why it didn’t take. We do get lots of yellow from the Wood Poppies at roughly the same time, though the poppies do start earlier.
It certainly brings the sunshine! Lovely.xxx
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.
I understand there is a related plant in the UK that is the subject of some controversy. Same common name, different species.