Wildflower Wednesday: Golden Alexander, It’s Freakin’ Golden
To paraphrase a former Illinois Governor, “It’s freakin’ golden, and I’m not gonna give it away for nothing.” If only he had been referring to the native wildflower Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea), he would never have gotten into so much trouble with federal prosecutors. And he would have been fully justified in placing a high value on this useful perennial. Golden Alexander is not a dramatic plant, but it does have many virtues: attractive, easy to grow, and extremely adaptable.
A member of the carrot family, Golden Alexander has flat umbels made up of tiny yellow flowers. In a mass, these umbels can have impact, even at a distance. Bloom time is generally late spring and early summer.
The foliage is deep green, lance or oval-shaped.
Golden Alexander is native to large areas of eastern and central USA and Canada. It’s natural habitats are moist prairies and open woods. In the garden, I’ve found that it will grow in part shade or sun, moist or slightly dry soils. It requires no special attention. In fact, in rich soils it can grow far larger than its normal height of 1-3′, so that I often find myself cutting it back.
Golden Alexander’s foliage provides a restful green backdrop for summer and fall blooming flowers. The flowers form interesting seed heads during this period. You can cut down the seed heads to avoid self-sowing. On the other hand, Golden Alexander doesn’t get obnoxious about spreading by seed, and the seedlings are easily pulled.
In terms of wildlife value, Golden Alexander is a host plant for the Black Swallowtail butterfly, and the flowers are attractive to bees and other pollinators.
Thanks to Gail at Clay and Limestone for hosting Wildflower Wednesday.