Featured in: “Wildflowers of North America”
Packera aurea (formerly Senecio aureus), commonly known as golden ragwort or simply ragwort, is a perennial flower in the family Asteraceae. It is also known as life root, squaw weed, golden Senecio, ragwort, uncum root, waw weed, uncum, false valerian, cough weed, female regulator, cocash weed, ragweed, staggerwort, and St. James wort.
Golden Ragwort is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae). It is a somewhat weedy, short lived, perennial forb growing from 6 inches to 2 feet tall. 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. The stalk ends in a flat-headed panicle of yellow flowers. The blooming period occurs early spring (March – April) and lasts about 3 weeks. 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. Each floret is replaced by a purple bullet shaped achene which is distributed by the wind. The short rootstock has spreading fibrous roots and it produces rhizomes (and sometimes stolons).
Golden Ragwort is a carefree plant which 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.
Distribution: This species is very widely distributed in the eastern North America in USDA hardiness zones 3 – 9. Habitats include wet deciduous woods, meadows, banks of rivers, streams and lakes, slopes of rocky ravines, and roadsides.
Taken in Fleming County Kentucky.