What's that Weed?

You have seen them growing along roadsides and ditches, in open fields and on the edge of wooded areas. The bright yellow blooms of cressleaf groundsel can be spotted all over this time of year. Cressleaf groundsel grows throughout the Southeast United States. It can grow and full sun or partial shade. It prefers moist, low-lying areas, so it’s no surprise it thrives in our swampy conditions.

Cressleaf groundsel goes by many names, including butterweed, ragwort and squawweed. Scientifically it is known as Packera glabella. It is a member of the same family of plants as sunflowers. In South Louisiana it is often called, “pissenlit”, the French word for dandelion.

Cressleaf groundsel is a winter annual. This means that seeds germinate in the fall and the plant grows throughout the winter months. Flowering usually occurs in January and February. The plants will eventually produce many dandelion like seed heads, which resemble puffballs. Cressleaf groundsel plants can grow fairly tall, sometimes reaching a height of two to three feet. The stem, which is hollow, is thick and succulent.

Most people refer to cressleaf groundsel as a weed, cattlemen especially consider it a nuisance. It is poisonous to grazing animals and should be controlled in a pasture setting. However, homeowners need not worry. Cressleaf groundsel is also considered a wildflower. It is a nectar source for bees, butterflies, and other important pollinators. Large groupings of cressleaf groundsel make a beautiful golden display.

Mariah Simoneaux is the Horticulture Agent serving Ascension and Assumption Parishes. For more information on cressleaf groundsel contact your local LSU AgCenter office.

Butterweed flower.

The bright yellow flowers of the cressleaf groundsel. Photo by Mariah Simoneaux/LSU AgCenter.

Butterweed on bark.

The leaves of cressleaf groundsel are deeply lobed and get smaller as they near the top of the plant. Photo by Mariah Simoneaux/LSU AgCenter.

12/15/2020 8:45:11 PM
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