Simply The Best Natives-Golden Alexander


 “To analyze the charms of flowers is like dissecting music; it is one of those things which it is far better to enjoy, than to attempt to fully understand.”  
–  Henry T. Tuckerman



Every May I am greeted to a gorgeous golden display in my garden beneath my large ash and maple tree and out in the meadow.  The Golden Alexanders (also known as Golden Zizias) are blooming.  A beautiful native Zizia aurea, in the Carrot Family (Apiaceae), is hardy from zones 3 to 8.

DSCN2633Although they only last a few weeks, the flat-topped yellow flowers are a favorite of mine and pollinators.  The flowers remind me of dill flowers that come later in a couple of months.  But be careful not to mistake this 1-3 foot perennial for a noxious imposter, the similar-looking Pastinaca sativa or Wild Parsnip.  Wild Parsnip is a very invasive non-native biennial found on roadsides and other disturbed areas.  It blooms later and is much taller, but beware as it can cause painful skin burns if you come in contact with it.

I am linking in with Gail@Clay and Limestone for her Wildflower Wednesday meme as I profile this wonderful native plant.


And I am also joining forces with a local native plant nursery, Amanda’s Garden, to purchase native plants for my garden, similar to the one I am profiling in this post.  The owner, Ellen Folts, specializes in woodland, prairie and wetland native perennials.




Growing Conditions

DSCN8014Zizias grow easily in sun to part shade in moist conditions.  I started my colony growing in the light shade under my mature 80 foot trees with one plant that reseeded heavily in one year.  I also have them growing from seed in my clay soil meadow.

This amazing plant can self pollinate, is salt tolerant and does not have any serious insect or disease problems.

These stems and leaves are green and shiny. The leaves have serrated edges as well as two or three lobes in each leaf.  I love how the leaves turn a great purple color in the fall.

The flowers have no scent.

The root system is a large cluster of coarse fibrous roots that can be divided.

Seeds germinate best in cool soil in fall as they need to stratified. 



Benefits to Wildlife

They say Golden Alexanders are not deer resistant, but mine have not been plagued by my four-footed local devils.DSCN8179

Because they are part of the carrot family, black swallowtail caterpillars use them as a host plant.  I have not seen any caterpillars on my plants but someday I hope I will.

Zizia is also an important pollen and nectar flower for short tongued bees (Green Metallic bees and Masked bees) who can get the goodies from these small flowers.  Wasps, flies and beetles also visit the flowers. 




Where Are They Found



The plant can be found from eastern Canada to the southern United States.

Golden Alexanders like moist prairies, open moist woods and wet meadows.





Golden Alexanders are not edible, but they make a great addition to a native meadow or a rain garden.  

Combine them with columbines and wild lupines as I did in the picture of my meadow at the top of the post.  




Folklore and TalesIMG_1721

Many Native Americans used this plant in a root tea for fevers, to heal wounds, or to help with insomnia.  

The flower stalks were used for headaches.   

Consult an expert before using plants as a remedy as they can be toxic.






“The nature of This Flower is to bloom.”    
~Alice Walker






I hope you will join me in celebrating the new season coming soon to your part of the world.  I will have the kick-off post for Seasonal Celebrations on Saturday!



Visit my new blog: 

new blog logo

I want to thank all the wonderful people who have been visiting my new blog, Living From Happiness.  It is a blog to celebrate life, lessons, change, challenges and creativity.

I post there every Thursday, and sometimes on Sunday with a creative post.  In August I am participating in a photo challenge and posting some of my pics on Sundays.

I do hope you will join me there.  



Next up on the blog:  Saturday brings another Seasonal Celebrations post.  Monday will be a review of the August garden. And next Wednesday, I will have critter post.

I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday.



All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2014.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only.

68 Replies to “Simply The Best Natives-Golden Alexander”

  1. Thanks for leaving a message Donna, it’s always good to hear from someone new! I don’t think we have your Golden Alexanders over here, they are a lovely plant with a pretty flower which would look good in the garden here.

    1. I hope to follow along more regularly Pauline. Different Zizias are wildflowers and found throughout North America so they may not have have found their way across the Atlantic. They do like to seed themselves into a large drift eventually so beware.

  2. I must add these to my garden … maybe they will compete well with the violets? And maybe even the dreaded Bishop’s Weed. Thanks for spotlighting! I like your combination with the lupines. I just received a wonderful gift of lupine seed from Alaska!

    1. Say the word and seed and/or divisions are yours Kathy. They will compete nicely and look great with lupines. You might want to clean as much as the Bishop’s weed and add a few plants so they can establish more easily. Mine is in a meadow full of weeds and wildflowers and a bed for of weeds and wildflowers and continue to multiply and I hope continue to take over more of the weeds.

  3. I thought about getting Zizia for my family garden… new son in law – Alexander. I ended up with Alexander’s Ragtime Band daylily but I still think I should add Golden Alexanders to my garden. ….you have added to that desire.

    1. Yes Judith definitely like a yellow QAL. All part of the same family loved by pollinators and butterflies. I would bet Miriam has some seed or even the plant as they are included in her book, Taming Wildflowers.

    1. Be prepared, Michelle, for a wonderful spring display soon as they seed easily and then they look wonderful as seedheads and fall foliage.

  4. I have a big patch of these and can attest to how drought tolerant they are. Mine grow in dry shade at the base of a huge crepe myrtle. I’ve never seen caterpillars on them, though. I wish all plants were this tough and easy. 🙂

  5. A lovely plant which we don’t see here. The wild parsnip that grows near us is the nearest to Our golden Alexander, and a native so not invasive. I have often picked it and never had problems with contact, but people do say the base, near the root, is the worst part. The flowers/seed heads taste delicious!

    1. Good to know Cathy as I have seen people who looked burned and blistered but I bet they were grabbing at the base to pull them out…I am never surprised that native plants somewhere else are well behaved and once in a different locale, they misbehave something fierce. Interesting how you should not eat my native but you can eat yours.

  6. The Golden Alexanders are lovely summer bloomers. I tend to really like flowers in the carrot family, though I wasn’t familiar with these particular ones.

  7. Your photos are stunning, Donna, and keep getting better and better! Golden Alexanders are so encouraging to see in mid-spring! It’s just about the time when our weather becomes near-perfect and so many plants bloom with abundance. Golden Alexandars have a fun seedhead, too. Great post!

    1. Oh Beth I am blushing…thank you for your sweet comment. I agree they are such a wonderful sight in spring and a lovely flower in decline as well. Have a fantastic weekend and birthday too!!

  8. Your blog didn’t recognize me and fill in the blanks. I love golden alexander. I grow it in a site that is at best average for moisture maybe dry in open full shade. However, it was planted in spring 2013 so it has not been tested with any dry weather.

    1. Carolyn I switched hosting services so my blog was kind of reset which is why it did not recognize you. It should once you put in your info again. I am finding the Golden Alexanders are very versatile and seem to grow wherever you put them. Moist, dry, sun or shade…

  9. What a pretty plant! I love flowers like this and Dill, with their open, airy look. I’ll bet it would be perfect for my future meadow in my detention pond!

  10. What a stunning combination you have up there! I love this plant though I do not have it in my garden! I can see why you are so drawn to it! Wishing you a lovely end to your week! Nicole xo

    1. It is a beautiful plant Nicole. I wish it was still blooming, but I can still appreciate its beauty as the foliage changes to purple now. Have a lovely weekend!

  11. I’d never heard that common name – Golden Alexander – it’s lovely. I was convinced to buy one by an enthusiastic volunteer at our botanical garden and haven’t been disappointed. It takes horrid conditions – mine has to handle the salt and muck from snow melt at the side of the driveway and dreadful drought (although not this summer!). It always rewards me with its bright cheerful blooms in spring.

    1. Good for that volunteer in convincing you. And how wonderful to confirm that it takes horrid conditions for you too Barbara.

  12. Thank you for an interesting post about a lovely plant. I am going to look in seed catalogues and see if it is available here in the UK.

    1. Glad you like them Diana…It is my meadow in spring and it is my favorite view in May until asters bloom and we hope to see monarchs in fall.

  13. I grow a lot of this plant, it is an easy wildflower with good color for late spring and early summer. I think it looks best in masses, which is good considering how it likes to spread.

  14. Hi Donna,
    I’m thinking this is the third season for my original Golden alexanders. I planted a few more last year. I did see a caterpillar on one last year, but haven’t been out looking much this year. That was a nice write up!

  15. Of course this plant is native for Northern America wild. I love its color, it reminds me yellow Achillea.
    Now I learned Golden Alexander!

  16. I had never heard of wild parsnip until a few months ago. I had a huge patch of volunteer parsnips in my garden and got a little worried. I was able to get rid of them and they were probably not wild anyway, just second generation parsnips. :-). Thank you for stopping in at Cranberry Morning.

    1. It is a very unusual plant Janet and I agree a real beauty. I love letting it fill in under the trees. I hope to spread it around a bit more as I redesign some areas.

  17. plants for a future …… says:
    The flowers, with the main stem removed, are a welcome addition to a tossed green salad. They are also a delicious cooked vegetable when used in a similar manner to broccoli.
    I love them… they are dddddelish!

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