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Marsh Ragwort (Tephroseris palustris)

Life history

Species overview

Marsh Ragwort (Tephroseris palustris), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found on beaches of lakes having fluctuating levels, based on recent records. It could also, perhaps, occur in cold marshes and fen-like sedge meadows. Blooming occurs late May through late July; fruiting occurs late June through late August. The optimal identification period for this species is late May through late July.

Synonyms: Senecio congestus ssp. tonsus, Senecio congestus var. palustris, Senecio congestus var. tonsus, Senecio palustris


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Can be distinguished from Erechtites hieracifolius by its clasping upper leaves and light yellow ray flowers.
  • Flower characteristics: Heads numerous in an often congested inflorescence, the disk 7 to 14 mm wide or larger in fruit; rays pale yellow, 4 to 9 mm; bracts very thin and generally pale, commonly with darker base.
  • Fruit characteristics: Pappus accrescent, very fine and copious; achenes smooth.
  • Leaf characteristics: Entire or coarsely toothed, scarcely pinnatifid, equally distributed, 3 to 20 cm long by 0.5 to 4.5 cm wide; lower leaves petiolate and often soon deciduous; upper leaves becoming sessile and may or may not be clasping.


  • Blooming phenology: late May through late July
  • Fruiting phenology: late June through late August
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is late May through late July


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Annual/biennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Not recorded for Wisconsin specimens.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Marsh Ragwort (Tephroseris palustris). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Tephroseris palustris in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found on beaches of lakes having fluctuating levels, based on recent records. It could also, perhaps, occur in cold marshes and fen-like sedge meadows.
  • Soils: Wet soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Marsh Ragwort. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Northern Sedge Meadow 2
Inland Beach 3

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Marsh Ragwort. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Minimize disturbance to hydrology, including soil disturbance from rutting.
  • Avoid disturbance to shorelines and the forest-beach interface.


Marsh Ragwort Photo.

Photo © Steven Spickerman.

Marsh Ragwort Photo.

Photo © Steven Spickerman.

Marsh Ragwort Photo.

Photo © Robert Kowal.

Marsh Ragwort Photo.

Photo © Derek Anderson.

Marsh Ragwort Photo.

Photo © Derek Anderson.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
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