Spring just isn’t spring in my garden without the sunshine-cheery Golden groundsel, Packera 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 Butterweed, Packera 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.
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,