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Prairie Ragwort (Packera plattensis)

Life history

Species overview

Prairie Ragwort (Packera plattensis), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in dry prairies. Blooming occurs late May through late June; fruiting occurs late June through late July. The optimal identification period for this species is late May through late June.

Synonyms: Senecio pseudotomentosus, S. plattensis


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Cauline leaves (at least the larger ones) evidently pinnatifid; inland.
  • Flower characteristics: Heads several; disk 6 to 12 mm wide; ray florets pistillate, yellow; disk florets bisexual, yellow to orange or reddish; phyllaries green, hairy at least at base.
  • Fruit characteristics: Achenes usually covered with small, coarse, stiff hairs.
  • Leaf characteristics: Basal leaves narrowly or broadly elliptic or ovate to suborbicular or broadly oblanceolate, crenate-serrate, or some deeply lobed, the blade and petiole to 10 cm long by 3 cm wide; cauline leaves conspicuously reduced upwards, becoming sessile.


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


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction: Sometimes stoloniferous
  • Life cycle: Biennial/short-lived perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Andropogon gerardii, Amorpha canescens, Liatris aspera, Euphorbia corollata, Helianthus occidentalis, Lithospermum canescens, Lespedeza capitata, Phlox pilosa.

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 Prairie Ragwort (Packera plattensis). 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 plattensis in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS3
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 in dry prairies.
  • Soils: Sandy soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Prairie 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
Dry Prairie 3
Dry-mesic Prairie 2
Sand Prairie 2
Oak Barrens 2

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Prairie 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
Western Coulee and Ridges 3
Western Prairie 2

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.


Prairie Ragwort Photo.

Prairie ragwort is a rare inhabitant of native grasslands in southwestern Wisconsin.

Photo © Richard Bauer.

Prairie Ragwort Photo.

Photo © Richard Bauer.

Prairie Ragwort Photo.

Photo © Richard Bauer.

Prairie Ragwort Photo.

Photo © Richard Bauer.

Prairie Ragwort Photo.

Photo © June Dobberpuhl.

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