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May 2008: Featured Plant
A Spring Asteraceae:
Packera anonyma (Senecio anonymus, Senecio smallii):
Appalachian Ragwort, Small's Ragwort

Packera anonyma: Appalacian Ragwort

An excellent native plant for full sun or partial shade. It is a perennial and an evergreen: the basal rosette of interesting long-petioled, serated leaves is renewed in autumn and survives over the winter to support the leafy inflorescence whose flowers open in late April through May. Hostplant for several families of butterflies and the flowers are visited by a wide variety of bees, beetles and Skipper butterflies.

The plant is common on roadsides where it is an excellent color complement to the white flower heads of the invasive alien Leucanthemum vulgare (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum), Ox-eye-daisy, White-daisy, Common-daisy, Marguerite, and the brown to golden inflorescences of several species of Rumex, Dock, and the sparse pale-blue flowers of Nuttallanthus canadensis (Linaria canadensis), Common American-toad-flax.

Most of the New World species in the genus Senecio, the Ragworts and the Groundsels, have been moved into the genus Packera, named after John Packer at the University of Alberta, Canada. It appears that most of the species remaining in Senecio are those native to Europe. That genus, and the European species in it, were named first and have priority. Later New World discoveries have to be put into another genus because they are now known not to belong in the related Old World Senecio.

Image by Glenn Galau ©