Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Packera neomexicana, New Mexico Groundsel

Packera neomexicana has showy large yellow flowers very similar to other species of the genus Packera and Senecio to which this species once belonged.  New Mexico Groundsel Packera neomexicana has bracts surrounding the flower heads that are greenish or yellowish. These bracts or phyllaries are similar to all species of Packera and Senecio.  New Mexico Groundsel Packera neomexicana has flower heads in open or compact cymose-like arrays as shown in the photo. The floral heads range from 3 to 20 per plant. Note that the flowers have both ray and disk florets.  New Mexico Groundsel Packera neomexicana has whitish-green leaves that may be hairy or cob-webby. The leaves are ovate to lanceolate or narrowly lanceolate and often tomentose (whitish). The lower leaves have stems while the upper leaves do not. New Mexico Groundsel Packera neomexicana blooms from April to August and prefers elevations from 3,000 to 9,000 feet (914-2,743 m). Plants are found on slopes and in canyons; mid to higher desert communities; Oak chaparral vegetation. New Mexico Groundsel

Scientific Name: Packera neomexicana
Common Name: New Mexico Groundsel

Also Called: Metcalf's Groundsel, New Mexico Ragwort, Toumey's Groundsel, Toumey's Ragwort

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Senecio neomexicana, Senecio neomexicanus var. neomexicana)

Status: Native

Duration: Annual, biennial or perennial

Size: 8 to 20 inches (20-50cm) or more, 3 feet (1 m)

Growth Form: Forb/herb; plants upright or spreading with heavy growth or in shade; plants with 1 or multiple stems; stems and foliage with dense soft white hairs (cobwebby) that fall off with maturity.

Leaves: Green; plants have both lower (basal) and upper (cauline) leaves, the lower leaves are the most prominent and the largest, the upper leaves are much smaller; the lower leaves are toothed; all of the leaves have dense soft white hairs.

Flower Color: Yellow, showy; flowers in open or dense clusters and sub-clusters; bracts surrounding flower heads green or yellowish, also with dense white soft hairs; flowers with both ray and disk florets, both yellow; fruit is a cypsela.

Flowering Season: April to July or August

Elevation: 3,000 to 9,000 feet (914-2,743 m)

Habitat Preferences: Slopes and canyons, rocky areas in mid to higher desert communities; Oak chaparral vegetation, less common in pine forests.

Recorded Range: New Mexico Groundsel is found in the southwestern United States in AZ, CO, NM, TX, UT; Arizona and New Mexico are the center of the distribution of this species with decent populations in southern Utah and southern Colorado; Texas has only a few small populations. It is also native to northern and central Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Packera neomexicana.

North America species range map for Packera neomexicana:

North America species range map for Packera neomexicana: Click image for full size map.
Click image for full size map

U.S. Weed Information: Unknown
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown
Wetland Indicator: Unknown
Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown

Genus Information: In North America there are 58 species for Packera. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 66 accepted species names and a further 159 scientific names of infraspecific rank for Packera.

Packera is a genus that was previously included in genus Senecio.

The genus Packera was published by Áskell Löve and Doris Benta Maria Löve in 1975.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona and Utah each have 11 species of genus, California has 16 species, Nevada has 8 species, New Mexico has 23 species, Texas has 11 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.

There are 4 varieties in Packera neomexicana;
Packera neomexicana var. metcalfei, Metcalf's Groundsel (AZ, NM);
Packera neomexicana var. mutabilis, New Mexico Groundsel (AZ, CO, NM, UT);
Packera neomexicana var. neomexicana, New Mexico Groundsel (AZ, NM, TX);
Packera neomexicana var. toumeyi, Toumey's Groundsel (AZ, NM);

Comments: A common and widely distributed species of Packera. The vast majority of Packera species are found at higher elevations and few have evolved successfully in the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts. Note that all 4 of the varieties are found in Arizona and New Mexico which is the epicenter of all species.

This genus was formerly included with the genus Senecio of which the bracts surrounding the floral heads closely resemble.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Oak Creek Ragwort, Packera quercetorum.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
New Mexico Groundsel, Packera neomexicana showy yellow flowers, their seeds and plants may be visited by hummingbirds and/or small mammals including rodents and granivorous birds in search of food, nectar, shelter and protection through cover.

Beneficial Value to Butterflies, Bees and Insects
New Mexico Groundsel, Packera neomexicana bright yellow daisy-like flowers and their plants may be visited by butterflies, moths and other insects in search of nectar and/or other food.

The genus Packera is named in honor of John George Packer (1929-2019) who specialized on the flora of Alberta and on Arctic and alpine flora.

The genus Packera was published by Áskell Löve and Doris Benta Maria Löve in 1975.

The species epithet "neomexicana" (neomexica'na:) means of or from New Mexico.

Packera neomexicana var. neomexicana is used as an antidote, burn dressing or other purposes by the Navajo Nation.
  • Navajo, Kayenta Drug, Antidote, Plant used as an antidote for narcotics.
  • Navajo, Kayenta Drug, Burn Dressing, Powdered plant, poultice of plant applied and plant used as lotion for burns.
  • Navajo, Kayenta Drug, Disinfectant, Plant used for bear infections.
  • Navajo, Ramah Drug, Hunting Medicine, Cold infusion used as lotion for good luck in hunting.

  • See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 09/10/2020
    Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California; as Senecio neomexicanus.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 09/10/2020) - for Packera
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 09/10/2020).
    Debra K. Trock,FNA; Asteraceae; Packera; 36. Packera neomexicana 49: 47. 1981.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    FNA 2006, Wiggins 1964, Kearney and Peebles 1969, Editor: S.Buckley, 2010, Field Guide from SEINet (accessed 09/10/2020).
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet (accessed 09/10/2020). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    'Packera', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 February 2020, 03:26 UTC, [accessed 18 February 2020]
    Seiler, John, Peterson, John, North American species range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
    Etymology:Michael L. Charters California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology - (accessed 09/10/2020)