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Plains Ragwort (Packera indecora)

Life history

Species overview

Plains Ragwort (Packera indecora), a Wisconsin Threatened plant, is found along Lake Superior in sandstone crevices and on clay bluffs. Blooming occurs late June through early July; fruiting occurs throughout July. The optimal identification period for this species is late June through early July.

Synonyms: Senecio indecorus, Senecio pauciflorus var. fallax


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Heads discoid.
  • Flower characteristics: Heads mostly 6 to 40, yellow, discoid or rarely with short rays; bracts often purple-tipped.
  • Fruit characteristics: Smooth achenes.
  • Leaf characteristics: Basal leaves elliptic or broadly ovate, tapering or subtruncate at the base, serrate, evidently petiolate, the blade to 6 cm long by 4 cm wide; cauline leaves sharply incised-pinnatifid, the lobes irregularly again few-toothed, reduced and becoming sessile upwards.


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


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Physocarpus opulifolius, Campanula rotundifolia, Agrostis hyemalis, Epilobium angustifolium, Solidago canadensis, Alnus rugosa, Thuja occidentalis, Calamagrostis canadensis, Fragaria virginiana.

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 Plains Ragwort (Packera indecora). 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 Packera indecora in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusTHR
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 along Lake Superior in sandstone crevices and on clay bluffs.
  • Soils: Rocky soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Plains 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
Clay Seepage Bluff 2
Bedrock Shore 3

Ecological landscapes

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

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
North Central Forest 2
Superior Coastal Plain 3

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.

  • No avoidance measures have been developed for this species.

Management guidance

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

  • No guidance has been developed for this species.


Plains Ragwort Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Plains Ragwort Photo.

In bud.

Photo by  staff, Wisconsin DNR.

Plains Ragwort Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

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
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition