What’s in Bloom | Golden Ragwort
May 6, 2020
Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea)
Golden ragwort, also known as heartleaf ragwort, golden groundsel, and butterweed, is a member of the aster or sunflower family (Asteraceae). Of the 8 packera species native to Virginia, golden ragwort is one of the more common.
Its bright golden flowers begin to bloom in our region of northern Virginia in early April and persist throughout the spring providing excellent forage to early pollinators.
Golden ragwort can be distinguished from other ragwort species by characteristic orbicular-cordate (ie: rounded, heart-shaped) basal leaves. However, the leaves alternating up the flower stalk are quite distinct from the basal leaves and are instead more slender and lobed (lobed like oak leaves).
Habitat | Golden ragwort can be found in a variety of habitats but most often in floodplain forests or moist meadows with base-rich soils.
Value to Wildlife | The flowers are quite attractive to a variety of native bee species, including sweat bees, small carpenter bees and cuckoo bees. Flies sometimes visit the blooms and the gem moth caterpillars (Orthonama obstipata) eat the leaves.
Gardening & Landscaping | This species tends to form patches as it spreads through rhizomes and it can be an excellent choice for native landscaping and meadow plantings.
Sources: Flora of Virginia by Alan S. Weakley, J. Christopher Ludwig, John F. Townsend; USDA Plant Database, plants.usda.gov; Bees by Heather Holm