with daffodils, golden ragwort welcomes spring with
bright yellow flowers covering swampy areas now until
early summer, according to native plant expert Helen
scientifically as Packera aurea, the native perennial
grows one to three feet tall, with only a few deeply-cut
leaves on the stems. Leaves at the base of the plant are
heart-shaped, and form a large rosette.
the flowers fade, the leaves spread to form a nice
groundcover that persists over most of winter,"
says Hamilton, past president of the John Clayton
Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society, and retired
biology teacher living in Williamsburg, Va. Learn more
about the native plant society at www.vnps.org.
grows naturally in bogs, wet woods, floodplains and
meadows in eastern North America, Hamilton continues.
The plant thrives in full shade with acid, rich soil, in
zones 3-9. It spreads easily by seed and underground
roots, forming large attractive colonies.
grows under trees where nothing else will thrive,"
a home-based woodland garden or a perennial border in
the shade the masses of golden yellow look wonderful
with bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana) and red
columbine (Aquilegia canadensis). Deer also avoid golden
ragwort because the leaves contain toxic
small bees and flies emerging from winter frequently
feed on ragwort, and carry its pollen to nearby flowers.
Those feeding insects include green metallic sweat bees.
bees in the Halicitid group are attracted to the water
and salt in human perspiration — thus their nickname,
usually do not sting, unless disturbed, and the sting is
minor, like a tiny pinprick," says Hamilton.
are very small bees, less than half-inch long, and are
usually overlooked because most have drab brown or gray
bodies, she adds. Some species, however, have vivid,
shiny green bodies that are easy to spot.
metallic green bees are most visible collecting pollen
and feeding on nectar in the disk flowers of the Aster
family, which includes golden ragwort, and on
bees are found worldwide, and are particularly abundant
in North America, with 45 species in Virginia, ranging
from brilliant green to dull brown in body color,
are everywhere — in backyard gardens, open fields and
parks," she says.
impossible to over-estimate the importance of these very
small bees — they are responsible for most of our
familiar summer flowering plants. Without their
activity, feeding on nectar and collecting pollen, most
flowers would never set seed for the next generation.
These bees are generalists, visiting a variety of
flowering species, and collecting pollen in baskets or
in bristles all over their bodies."
metallic green bees are in the genus Agapostemon,
represented by 14 species in the eastern United States,
according to Hamilton.
bumblebees, sweat bees do ‘buzz pollination,’"
rapidly moving flight muscles, disconnected from their
wings, they generate sonic vibrations that cause pollen
to be released from some plants, like tomatoes and
bees are more numerous than most bees, except for the
non-native honeybee, and although they do not produce
honey, their services as pollinators of garden flowers,
fruits and vegetables are immeasurable, Hamilton adds.
encourage populations of sweat bees, leave patches of
bare soil for nesting habitat, and plant lots of
different wildflowers, especially those with long
blooming periods, from early spring through fall such as
wild petunia, blue vervain, Maryland golden aster,
summer phlox and Joe pye-weed.