Zizia aurea (L.) Koch - Golden Alexanders

Zizia aurea plant

Family - Apiaceae

Stems - To 1m tall, glabrous, herbaceous, carinate, erect, branching, from thickened roots.

Leaves - Alternate, sessile, ternately divided. Petiolules winged. Petiolule of terminal leaflet to -4cm long. Petiolule of lateral leaflets to 1.5cm long. Wings -1mm broad. Leaflets glabrous, serrate, typically ovate-lanceolate, often irregularly divided again. Larger leaflets to 7cm long, 2.5cm broad.

Zizia aurea leaf

Zizia aurea leaf

Inflorescence - Terminal compound umbels. Main rays +/-20, to +4cm long, glabrous, subtended by attenuate bracts. Bracts to 4mm long. Rays of umbellets to 4mm long, glabrous. Central flower of each umbellet sessile.

Zizia aurea inflorescence

Flowers - Petals 5, yellow, 2mm long, glabrous, incurved. Stamens 5, alternating with petals, spreading to erect, exserted. Filaments pale yellow, 1.8mm long. Anthers yellow, .3mm long. Fruit to ovoid-oblong, to 4mm long, 2mm broad.

Zizia aurea flowers

Zizia aurea fruitFruits.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Prairies, glades, fields, thickets, rich open woods.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - The species name - aurea - means "golden" and the flowers are certainly that. This species is quite striking when in flower and usually occurs in colonies. The flower petals are typically always folded in on themselves.
The plant has been used historically as a fever remedy and for other ailments but the plant is mildly toxic and should not be eaten.

Photographs taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 5-2-00, and in Eminence, MO., 5-23-03.


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