Common Name: Butterwort
Other Common Names: Uinta Groundsel
Scientific Name: Senecio multilobatus
Family: Aster Family (Asteraceae)
Distribution: common and widely distributed throughout the Intermountain West
Habitat: very wide amplitude, from blackbrush and salt desert communities up into lodgepole and spruce-fir communities
Habit: biennial or perennial herb
Foliage Color: bright green
Leaves: deeply lobed leaves with squarish lobes, all or mostly basal.
Flower Color: bright butter yellow
Flower Form: borne in heads, both ray and disk flowers yellow, pappus of white bristles, involucre of an inner series of equal bracts with a few short outer bracts.
Cultural Requirements: Prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade, tolerant of a broad range of soil types, fully cold-hardy, drought hardy, i.e., requires no supplemental water after establishment on the Wasatch Front, but somewhat tolerant of overwatering.
Culture: Butterwort seeds (or more properly achenes, one-seeded fruits) are nondormant and may be sown directly into containers without pretreatment. The seedlings grow quickly. Plants generally do not flower until the second year, and in our experience, behave as biennials, i.e., flower once, then die. The plants produce abundant seed and probably reseed readily given the chance.
Uses and Notes of Interest: One of dozens of yellow-flowered members of the Aster family in Utah, butterwort is noteworthy because of the sheer brightness and abundance of its flowers. Its pretty rosettes of deeply lobed leaves are attractive in winter, and it is very early to bolt and flower. The yellow daisy-like flower heads form flat or domelike masses at the tips of the flowering branches. In fruit the heads look like miniature dandelion heads; if you are collecting seed, it is necessary to be prompt, as these puffs are carried off in the first strong wind, once ripe. Early June, before seed-collecting season proper, is the time to get seeds of this plant from lower elevations. They may be hand-stripped carefully into a paper bag. Light hand-rubbing removes the pappus and makes the tiny seeds easier to handle.