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Montana Field Guides

Balsam Ragwort - Senecio pauperculus
Other Names:  Packera paupercula

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4
C-value: 5

Agency Status


External Links

General Description
Stems erect, 20–60 cm. Herbage glabrous or tomentose at leaf bases. Leaves: basal petiolate; blades ovate to lanceolate, cuneate, dentate, 2–6 cm long; cauline becoming sessile or clasping, lanceolate to oblanceolate, deeply pinnately divided into narrow lobes. Inflorescence corymbiform with 3 to 10 heads. Heads radiate; involucres 5–10 mm high; phyllaries 13 or 21, glabrous. Rays 8 or 13; ligules 4–12 mm long. Disk corollas 5–6 mm long. Achenes 1–3 mm long, glabrous (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Diagnostic Characteristics
Balsam Ragwort - Senecio pauperculus
*Hairs: At flowering, leaves and stems are glabrate, but can be sparse tomentum (not arachnoid) in the leaf axils.
*Stem Leaves: Blades are lanceolate to oblanceolate, and divided into narrow, deeply-lobed.
*Habitat: Wetlands, moist meadows, or wet meadows.

Prairie Ragwort - Senecio plattensis
*Hairs: At flowering, leaves and stems are arachnoid to tomentose. The arachnoid hairs can be sparse to dense.
*Stem Leaves: Blades are ovate to lanceolate, and divided into narrow, crenate lobes.
*Habitat: Grasslands and pine woodlands.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Range Comments
Throughout all of North America except the desert southwest (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 36

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Moist or wet meadows, fens, thickets, forest openings, often along streams; valleys, montane (Lesica et al. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

The following animal species have been reported as pollinators of this plant species or its genus where their geographic ranges overlap: Bombus bifarius, Bombus flavifrons, Bombus frigidus, Bombus huntii, Bombus melanopygus, Bombus mixtus, Bombus sylvicola, Bombus occidentalis, Bombus insularis, Bombus suckleyi, Bombus flavidus, and Bombus kirbiellus (Schmitt 1980, Thorp et al. 1983, Mayer et al. 2000, Wilson et al. 2010, Pyke et al. 2012, Koch et al. 2012, Williams et al. 2014).

  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Koch, J., J. Strange, and P. Williams. 2012. Bumble bees of the western United States. Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service, Pollinator Partnership. 143 p.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Mayer, D.F., E.R. Miliczky, B.F. Finnigan, and C.A. Johnson. 2000. The bee fauna (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) of southeastern Washington. Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia 97: 25-31.
    • Pyke, G.H., D.W. Inouye, and J.D. Thomson. 2012. Local geographic distributions of bumble bees near Crested Butte, Colorado: competition and community structure revisited. Environmental Entomology 41(6): 1332-1349.
    • Schmitt, J. 1980. Pollinator foraging behavior and gene dispersal in Senecio (Compositae). Evolution 34: 934-943.
    • Thorp, R.W., D.S. Horning, and L.L. Dunning. 1983. Bumble bees and cuckoo bumble bees of California (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Bulletin of the California Insect Survey 23:1-79.
    • Williams, P., R. Thorp, L. Richardson, and S. Colla. 2014. Bumble Bees of North America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 208 p.
    • Wilson, J.S., L.E. Wilson, L.D. Loftis, and T. Griswold. 2010. The montane bee fauna of north central Washington, USA, with floral associations. Western North American Naturalist 70(2): 198-207.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • Cope, M.G. 1992. Distribution, habitat selection and survival of transplanted Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus) in the Tobacco Valley, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 60 p.
    • Culver, D.R. 1994. Floristic analysis of the Centennial Region, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 199 pp.
    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2022. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants, Second Edition. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 779 p.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Balsam Ragwort"
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Citation for data on this website:
Balsam Ragwort — Senecio pauperculus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from