Thursday, May 19, 2011

Butterweed, Packera glabella

Crop field in Delaware County, Ohio
As you drive across Ohio's farmlands, are you seeing acres of yellow right now?  If so, you're most likely seeing what I like to call butterweed.  This plant is native in the central and southeast U.S., but has rapidly expanded across Ohio in recent decades.  Just take a look at the range map for Ohio from USDA Plants:

It's all over central and western Ohio, but by looking at this map, you'd think it was a rarity.  It's even showing up in my front yard as a weed!  Why has this plant expanded so rapidly?  Is it taking advantage of no-till agriculture?  Is there something else to the story?  I'm not sure, but I bet that it grows in every county in Ohio's corn belt plains, and on this map, it barely registers in a few Ohio counties.

Plants get around- they move, and they can do things that we never expect.  And that's why I think they're incredibly cool.  Look out Pennsylvania, butterweed may be headed towards you!


p.s. (I bet it's probably there already)

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