Zizia aurea, commonly called Golden Alexanders, is a native perennial forb (wildflower) which often occurs in small colonies in moist woods and meadows, thickets, glades and prairies.
The flowers are attractive to many kinds of insects seeking pollen or nectar, especially short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, and beetles. Among the short-tongued bees are such visitors as Green Metallic bees, Masked bees, and Andrenid bees. Wasp visitors include Eumenine wasps, spider wasps, Ichneumonid wasps, and Crabronine wasps. Caterpillars of the butterflies feed on the leaves and flowers.
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Golden Alexanders prefers full to partial sun, although light shade under trees is tolerated. The soil should be moist and loamy and can contain some rocky material. Best mass planted in open woodland or prairie areas, wild or native plant gardens. Golden Alexanders is an excellent addition to a wildflower garden because it provides accessible nectar to many beneficial insects with short mouthparts during the spring and early summer when such flowers are relatively uncommon.
Showy blooms make good cut flowers.
Habitats include moist black soil prairies, openings in moist to mesic woodlands, areas along woodland paths, savannas, thickets, limestone glades, thinly wooded bluffs, powerline clearances in wooded areas, and abandoned fields. Golden Alexanders occurs in both degraded and higher quality habitats. It adapts readily to habitat restorations.
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