Friday, April 18, 2014

Flower Friday: Butterweed is delicious in natural landscapes

Butterweed (Photo/Lisa Roberts
Butterweed (Packera glabella, formerly Senecio glabellus)

Many Florida roadsides and river edges are now illuminated in gold by dense stands of blooming butterweed.  The plant is an annual that flowers from early spring into summer, often producing a conspicuous and striking mass of bright yellow blooms. Both disc and ray flowers are yellow to golden, the stem is hollow, and the leaves are alternate. The flowers attract a variety of pollinators.

Butterweed first appears in winter months as a basal rosette. Before it blooms, it is sometimes confused with mustard, as both have multi-lobed and rounded leaves. The composite flowers of butterweed, however, clearly identify it as a member of the aster family and not the mustard (Brassicaceae) family. And unlike mustard, butterweed can be toxic if eaten.

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)
Hardiness: All zones
Soil: Moist to inundated or seasonally flooded
Exposure:  Partial shade to full sun, but favorable (not too dry) soil conditions must be maintained
Growth habit: Butterweed grows to about 3 feet in height and is found mostly in wet areas such as alluvial forests, roadside ditches and wet, fallow pastures or fields.
Garden tips: Unlike other species of Packera, butterweed is not commercially available. It is easily propagated from seed, however, if collected when ripe and sown immediately.

Click here to see where butterweed occurs naturally in Florida.

- Stacey Matrazzo

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