Yellow Daisies

Maryland Golden Aster Golden Ragwort Camphorweed Golden Ragwort

What are they?

The Asteraceae is a big family of flowering plants that needs to be broken down a little to make it manageable. This group consists of those species with mostly yellow flowers, but are distinguished from the dandelion group by having flowers of two types in the compound head. Only the outer fowers carry ligules (fused petals), while the inner flowers are petaless, creating the flower head we know as a daisy.


The identification of this group is easy if attention is paid to the leaves (both basal and stem leaves) and the outer parts of the flower heads.

Technical terms that it is useful to know when identifying this group are Phyllary, Ligule and Pappus. The phyllaries are the greenish outer part of the compound head of flowers and which can differ quite significantly between two, otherwise very similar, species. The ligule is the colored part of the flower that you or I would normally call a petal. In fact, each flower has five petals which are fused together at the base into a tube, then elongated out into a single, strap-like structure (the ligule). The pappus is the downy 'parachute' that carries the seed on the wind; these are best known as the 'clocks' of dandelions, so common on lawns in early summer.

Maryland Golden Aster      Chrysopsis mariana

A common species of woodland margins and shady field edges. More frequent in the north of Cape May County than the south. Flowers August to October.
Maryland Golden Aster Maryland Golden Aster Maryland Golden Aster Maryland Golden Aster
Phyllaries covered in
sticky hairs
Leaves have silky white hairs
Pappus rusty brown

Camphorweed      Heterotheca subaxillaris

A common species of sandy field edges, dunes and coastal areas. Readily identified by its smell of camphor - rub a leaf and sniff! Mature plants are wide-spreading, bearing flowers on the ends of long side branches. Flowers late July to September.
Camphorweed Camphorweed Camphorweed Camphorweed
Phyllaries in many rows, sticky
Leaves broad-based,
clasping the stem
Pappus creamy-buff

Woolly Ragwort      Packera tomentosa

An uncommon plant of sandy fields and other open places. Flowers late April to June. Leaves continue to grow after flowering is over and may get to a foot or more in length.
Woolly Ragwort Woolly Ragwort Woolly Ragwort Woolly Ragwort
Phyllaries purple-tipped,
very downy
Young leaves densely downy
Mature leaf

Golden Ragwort      Packera aurea

A rather scarce plant in Cape May County but small numbers can be found in swampy ground of wet woods and shady fields. Flowers late April to June.
Golden Ragwort Golden Ragwort Golden Ragwort Golden Ragwort
Phyllaries purple-tipped,
slightly downy
Basal leaves rounded
on long stalks
Upper leaves pinnate

Pot Marigold      Calendula officinalis

Introduced from Europe and occasionally found as an escape from cultivation in urban and suburban areas. Flowers May onwards until the first frosts. Whole plant lightly downy.
Pot Marigold Pot Marigold Pot Marigold Pot Marigold
Flower head
Leaves with undulate