prairie groundsel

(Packera plattensis)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

prairie groundsel

NatureServe

N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland

Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

Nativity

Native

Occurrence

 

Habitat

Dry. Prairies, meadows, open woods, cliffs, railroads. Full sun.

Flowering

June to August

     
Flower Color

Yellow ray florets, yellow or golden yellow disk florets

     
Height

4 to 24

     

Identification

This is a highly variable, 4 to 24 tall, erect, short-lived perennial or occasionally biennial forb. It is abundant and widespread. It rises on usually 1 stem, occasionally 2 or 3 clustered stems, from a usually stout, erect to horizontal rootstock. Older plants form a small underground caudex. It often forms dense colonies. It sometimes reproduces vegetatively by well-developed, above-ground, creeping stems (stolons).

The stems are erect, light green, hollow, and cylinder-shaped with shallow ridges. When young they are more or less evenly covered with dense, felty hairs. Above the base they become sparsely hairy when the plant is in flower except for patches of cobwebby hairs in the leaf axils and inflorescence branch nodes.

Basal leaves are highly variable. They may be narrowly elliptic to egg-shaped, inversely lance-shaped, almost lyre-shaped, or, rarely, almost circular. They are on leaf stalks up to 4 long. They are ¾ to 2¾ long, to 1¼ wide, tapered, rounded, or nearly squared at the base, and rounded or bluntly pointed at the tip. They are usually unlobed, but sometimes have a few narrow, irregular lobes near the base. When young, the upper and lower surfaces are evenly covered with dense, felty hairs. At flowering time the upper surface is nearly hairless, the lower surface is has tufts of woolly hairs especially along the midrib. The margins may be sharply toothed or have rounded teeth. Whatever their shape, basal leaves are persistent, usually present when the plant is in flower.

Stem leaves are alternate. Lower stem leaves are stalked and similar to the basal leaves. They are either somewhat lyre-shaped, with a large terminal lobe and smaller, narrow, lateral lobes, or cut to the midrib (pinnatifid). The terminal lobe is egg-shaped and longer than wide. As they ascend the stem the leaves become gradually smaller, deeply pinnatifid, and stalkless or nearly stalkless. When young, the upper and lower surfaces are evenly covered with dense, felty hairs. At flowering time the upper surface is nearly hairless, the lower surface is sparsely hairy. The margins are sharply toothed.

The inflorescence is a dense or loose, branched cluster of 6 to 20 or more flower heads at the end of the stem. The outer heads are on longer flower stalks than the inner heads, resulting in a flat topped cluster. The flower stalks are sparsely to densely hairy and have a small, leaf-like bract at the base.

The flower heads are ½ to 1 wide. There are 13 or 21 green bracts united for most of their length into a cylinder-shaped flower cup (calyx), and separated at the tip into pointed, thin, membranous lobes. The calyx is usually hairless, sometimes with cobwebby hairs near the base. There are 8 to 10 yellow ray florets and 60 to 70 yellow or golden yellow disk florets. The flowers have a mild fragrance.

The fruit is an achene.

 
Similar
Species

Balsam groundsel (Packera paupercula) rarely produces stolons. The inflorescences have fewer than 20 flower heads. The flower heads have 8 or 13 ray florets.


Distribution Distribution Map   Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.

Comments

 


Taxonomy

Family:

Asteraceae (aster)

 

Subfamily:

Asteroideae

 

Supertribe:

Senecionodae

 

Tribe:

Senecioneae

 

Subtribe:

Senecioninae

 
Synonyms

Senecio plattensis

Senecio pseudotomentosus

 
Common
Names

Platte groundsel

Platte ragwort

prairie groundsel

prairie ragwort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Axil

The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.

 

Bractlet

A small, often secondary bract within an inflorescence; a bract that is borne on a petiole instead of subtending it.

 

Calyx

The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.

 

Caudex

A short, thickened, woody, persistent enlargement of the stem, at or below ground level, used for water storage.

 

Node

The small swelling of the stem from which one or more leaves, branches, or buds originate.

 

Pinnatifid

Deeply cut, more than half way to the midrib but not to the midrib, into lobes that are spaced out along the midrib; the lobes do not form separate leaflets.

 

Stolon

An above-ground, creeping stem that grows along the ground and produces roots and sometimes new plants at its nodes. A runner.

       
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