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Plant of the Week #3- May 13

One of the plants that have blossomed on the prairie in the last few weeks is prairie ragwort (Packera plattensis). This is one of many species in the genus Packera that grow in this area, but most of the others prefer moist habitats while prairie ragwort likes dry habitats like our bluff prairies. It grows about 1-2 feet tall, the flower is about 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter and blooms May to June. It is listed as special concern in Wisconsin.

Here is a group of prairie ragwort plants on one of the bluff prairies:

This species can be difficult to distinguish from the more common balsam ragwort, but it grows in moister habitats as above and prairie ragwort is more hairy on the leaves and stem with wooly hairs that look like cobwebs as in the following photo. Some say that the name "ragwort" comes from the ragged look of these leaves:

Prairie Ragwort is a biennial/short-lived perennial. It grows in prairies that are not dominated by grasses and have open spaces such as those created by fire. And it provides important nectar and pollen to small native bees and butterflies.

Friends plans to be on the alert for when this plant is seeding (with seeds similar to dandelion seeds) so we can collect it and spread it to newly opened areas on the prairies. Get ready- this might be as soon as late May or early June!

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This seems to show up on its own in disturbed areas, often in dense patches. Seems to spread well on its own so I never collect and disperse seed from it. I suspect we'll see this establish in some of the buffers the Friends are creating that are devoid of plants after the buckthorn removal.

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Love the green and gold coloring...then again, I've always been a Packera fan. Thanks for this!

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