Spring just isn’t spring in my garden without the sunshine-cheery Golden groundselPackera obovata. 

The small patch has grown from two, four-inch pot sized plants popped into the ground four or five years ago to a respectable sized carpet with a seasonal  yellow flourish.  Also called Roundleaf goundsel, Roundleaf ragwort, and Squawweed, this native North American perennial is an excellent shade-loving ground-cover.  The foliage is attractive year-round  and the happy daisy flowers brighten the late winter/early spring garden.

In recent weeks and at the opposite end of my property from the groundsel, I’ve watched a singular plant growing in the middle of a mulched pathway.   The foliage is certainly interesting, but unfamiliar.

I enjoy surprises in the garden (well, not all of them…), so I decided I’d keep–or not–the plant once it bloomed and I could better identify it.  Well, the mystery plant has finally unfurled its flowers.

Clearly, this pretty is a relative of the Golden groundsel, though obviously a different sub-species.  I checked the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Database and it didn’t take long to discover that it is a ButterweedPackera glabella.  Also called Cress-leaf groundsel and Yellowtop (my favorite), it evokes the same spirit of spring as its cousin, the Golden groundsel.

The flowers are almost identical.

Yellowtop (Packera glabella)

Golden groundsel (Packera obovata)


Both plants exhibit interesting foliage.  The Golden’s base foliage is oval (thus the  ’round-leaf’ in several of its common names) and finely serrated.  Its bloom-stalk foliage is more lance-like and deeply lobed.

The Yellowtop’s foliage is also rounded and deeply lobed, but with smooth perimeters. The differential in leaf color between the two plants is primarily because of light and the different times of day that I shot the photos, though the Yellowtop is a smidge lighter green than the Golden groundsel.

I have no idea where this single Yellowtop came from and especially in the spot in which it grows.  While the Golden groundsel prefers shade (mine gets a bit of afternoon sun) and is a perennial evergreen, the Yellowtop is an annual which thrives in either sun or shade.  The LBJWC says that it is a prolific re-seeder and I hope they’re right because I’d love more of this little spring thing sprinkled in my gardens next year.

All in the family:  plant cousins book-ending my home garden–Golden groundsel,

…and Yellowtop.

Hello Spring!


28 thoughts on “Cousins!

    • Mulch type depends on where I’m using it. In a pathway, I like cypress mulch; in gardens, I like the Texas native and organic hardwood, or if I’m lucky, free mulch from a neighbor’s tree/branch shredding. As for sun, most of my property is part-shade. There are a few spots of full sun, a few more of full shade. A mixed bag.


  1. What a fun way to learn…your conversational writing style makes finding out what will work in my new “old” backyard (new to me but 35 year old neglected old back yard) fun. Thanks for taking us for a walk in your backyard.


    • Thanks, Pam! I hope you enjoy gardening in your backyard as much as I have mine! Gardening affords lots of room for creativity, learning and personal expression–have fun!


  2. Perplexed! I think I may have taken photos of yet another groundsel. The flowers of “mine” look identical to yours, but the leaves seem to be yet a different shape. Unfortunately, your friendly non-gardener is going to have to make a trip back to a ditch one county over to take more photos and really explore, but, heck. What else should I be doing? Going to the mall or watching tv? I don’t think so! If I can figure it out, I’ll report back.


  3. Tina what a great surprise to find that mysterious flower was “cousin” of her precious Golden Cane Grass! Yellowtop is very pretty too. When you discover a wild flower (also pretty) it is as if you discover a treasure: at least that happens to me. Good luck with the new flower. Greetings from Margarita.


  4. I always learn something new from your blog, Tina. Now I’m tempted to try Golden Groundsel in the “cedar forest” at the back of our property. Its cousin is pretty, too, and the difference in foliage is fascinating.


    • Hi Mary! I’m tickled that you want to try the golden groundsel–it’ll be beautiful in a woodland setting, as that’s where it tends to grow naturally. It’s deer resistant, too, if that’s something you have to consider. Good luck with it!


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