Every spring a common Mississippi wildflower, a patch of Butterweed, shows up in my lawn. They come up in the same spot every year, and I just mow around them until they are done blooming. In combination with Philadelphia fleabane which also blooms at this time, they make a pretty landscape.
Butterweed is in the Aster family, so they flowers resemble small yellow daisies and they cluster at the top of the stem. The stem is hollow and has a maroon/purple hue to it. The leaves tend to be basal with a few that reach toward the top of the plant as it grows. While they start off short, butterweed (or yellowtop, as it is also known), can get up to 3 feet tall. Butterweed’s scientific name is Packera glabella – it used to be Senecio glabellus.
This native plant is found throughout the Southeast and into north central U.S. and eastern U.S. – even in Ontario, Canada. These wildflowers are found in disturbed areas – along roadsides, streams, in fields and ditches, grassy areas, and in moist floodplains. The plant prefers moist soils.
Insects and Wildlife
Bees, flies, and other small insects are attracted to Butterweed and feed on its nectar. This plant is toxic so most wildlife avoids eating it. Read more about its toxicity here: http://www.agweb.com/article/butterweed_invades_farm_fields_and_pastures/ and http://rcrec-ona.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/publications/ona-reports/2013/or1-13.html. They bloom in early spring to late summer.
Some of the insects I found in my backyard feeding on Butterweed are shown in the photos below.
Video on Butterweed (Yellowtop)
Watch as Dr. Jeanne Jones introduces yellowtop (butterweed), a common wildflower in Mississippi