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Manitoba Museum

Aster (Asteraceae)

Prairie Groundsel

Packera plattensis (Nutt.) W.A. Weber & A. Löve

This brightly coloured prairie plant is a biennial or short-lived perennial. Its mildly scented flower heads are attractive to small bees and other pollinating insects. It can spread by underground rhizomes, and often forms colonies this way. Seeds are dispersed by the wind, being helped along by their tuft of bristles. In order to avoid competition with other plants, it prefers less fertile soil.

Flower Colour:

  • Yellow

Flowering Season:

  • Spring
  • Summer

Flowering Months:

  • April
  • July
  • June
  • May

Canadian Rarity Status:

Listed as “sensitive” in Canada, BC, and Saskatchewan.

Physical Appearance:

The 1-3 hairy, unbranched flowering stems grow 20-60 cm tall, and have deeply divided, hairy, alternate leaves. These emerge from a basal cluster of stalked, hairy, oval-shaped leaves with toothed margins. Stems are topped by flat-headed clusters of 3-20 small flower heads, backed by a whorl of hairy bracts. Each head consists of 60-70 yellow disc florets surrounded by 8-14 yellow ray florets. Fruits are achenes with a tuft of white hair-like bristles.

Similar Species:

Balsam Groundsel (Packera paupercula (Michx.) A. & D. Löve), Silvery Groundsel (Packera cana (Hook.) Weber & A. Löve)

Gardening Notes:

Seeds and/or plants may be available from greenhouses and seed supply companies specializing in native plants.

Canadian Distribution:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • Northwest Territories
  • Ontario
  • Saskatchewan

Prairie Types:

  • Fescue Prairie
  • Tall Grass Prairie


  • Limestone Glades
  • Open Woodlands
  • Prairies
  • Railways
  • Roadsides
  • Savannahs

Moisture Conditions:

  • Dry
  • Moderate

Light Preference:

  • Full Sun
  • Part Shade

Soil Preference:

  • Alkaline
  • Clay
  • Loam
  • Sand
Prairie Groundsel