This pretty yellow aster caught my eye this week while walking in the woods at Pandapas Pond in the Jefferson National Forest. It was growing on a dry, rocky slope, mixed in with mosses.
The diminutive flowers of Roundleaf Ragwort are only 3/4 in. wide and appear in open clusters at the top of green stems. The flower stalks can be 12 to 20 inches tall.
Both the ray flowers (8-10 in number) and the disk flowers of this aster are deep yellow. The flowers seem to float freely above the bare ground, but a closer look reveals their origin–small rosettes of basal leaves hugging the forest floor. The basal leaves are simple, round to spatulate, 2-4 inches long, with an attractive, wavy margin. There are occasional small stem leaves too; these are alternate, clasping, and cut into deep lobes (pinnately lobed).
Because the plant spreads by runners, it is sometimes called Running Groundsel. Bloom time is spring; leaves may persist throughout the winter (they are partially evergreen).
An alternate scientific name is for this plant is Senecio obovatus.
There is another ragwort in our area. Read here about Golden Ragwort.