Packera aurea 'Dark Shadows'
Common Name: golden ragwort 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April
Bloom Description: Bright yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful
Attracts: Butterflies
Tolerate: Wet Soil


Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Blooms well in shady locations. Soils should not be allowed to dry out. Freely self-seeds and is easily grown from seed. Naturalizes into large colonies in optimum growing conditions. Remove flowering stems after bloom/seed dispersal. Basal foliage will serve as an attractive ground cover throughout the growing season as long as consistent moisture is provided. Basal foliage will be evergreen to semi-evergreen in climates at the warmer end of its hardiness range (generally Zones 6-8).

‘Dark Shadows’ may not come true from seed. It is recommended that spring plants which emerge without the dark coloration distinctive to this cultivar should be immediately removed from the planting and not allowed to flower and seed.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Packera aurea, commonly called golden ragwort or golden groundsel, is a somewhat weedy perennial which is valued for its ability to thrive in moist, shady locations, naturalize rapidly, and produce a long and profuse spring bloom. It is native to Missouri where it occurs most often in moist soils in low woods, ravines, swamps, along streams and springs, and at the base of cliffs (Steyermark). Features flat-topped clusters (corymbs) of yellow, daisy-like flowers (to 1" diameter) atop sparsely-leaved stems in early spring. Oblong stem leaves are finely cut (pinnately lobed) and quite distinctive. Flowering stems typically rise 1-2' tall from basal clumps of long-stemmed, heart-shaped, toothed, dark green leaves that often have a purplish tinge beneath. Synonymous with Senecio aureus.

Genus name honors 20th century North American botanist John G. Packer.

Specific epithet means golden yellow in reference to flower color.

‘Dark Shadows’ is primarily distinguished from the straight species by the appearance of distinctive dark purple coloration (i.e., dark shadows) on the newly emerging spring leaves and flower buds. Bright yellow daisy-like flowers open as expected in spring with the leaves eventually turning green by late spring. This cultivar was discovered growing in a garden in Yancy County, North Carolina in 2008.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Ground cover for moist, shady areas. Large naturalized plantings in woodland gardens can be spectacular in bloom. Also effective in bog gardens, along streams or ponds, wild gardens, cottage gardens, native plant gardens or borders.