Doronicum 'Little Leo'

Common Name: leopard's bane 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 0.50 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Cool-season perennial that is best grown in USDA Zones 4-7 in humusy, moisture-retentive soils in part shade. It often thrives under average garden conditions in moderately warm areas in sun-dappled shade. It dislikes hot and humid summer climates, and is sometimes treated as a cool-season annual in areas south of Zone 7. Plants need consistent and even moisture. They will perform poorly if soils are kept too moist or too dry. Cooling mulch helps. Foliage often depreciates after bloom, with plants sometimes going dormant in the heat of the summer. Cut back in late fall. Propagate by seed or division. Plants will slowly spread in the garden by underground rhizomes.

‘Little Leo’ is easily propagated from seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Doronicum, commonly known as leopard’s bane, is a genus of about 38 species of showy, mostly spring-flowering, daisy-like herbaceous perennials in the composite family. These plants are primarily native to rocky alpine woodland areas in Europe, Northern Africa and temperate Asia. Although most daisy-like composite flowers bloom in summer and fall, plants in this genus bloom in early spring.

Genus name Doronicum comes from the Arabic "doronigi", the Arabic name for plants of this genus.

Arrows were reportedly once dipped in the juice of one species of Doronicum for hunting leopards, hence the common name. However, plants in the genus Doronicum have non-toxic sap which suggests that the name of leopard’s bane was given to it by mistake.

‘Little Leo’ is a compact cultivar which grows to only 8-12” tall. It features showy, single, semi-double, 2-inch diameter, daisy-like yellow flowers with golden eyes which bloom singly in spring atop stems rising above a basal foliage mound of serrated, heart-shaped, long-petioled, dark green leaves. Leaves often die down (go dormant) in hot summer weather after bloom.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for powdery mildew, root rot and Botrytis Aphids, thrips and spider mites may appear in some locations.


Effective when massed or grouped in part shade areas. Woodland areas. Border fronts. Rock gardens. Edging. Containers. Patio pots. Good cut flower. It is sometimes suggested that perennials with a late season bloom be interplanted with this cultivar to hide the inevitable summer foliage decline.