Beautiful Butterweed

Butterweed (Packera glabella) is named for its butter-yellow flowers.  Cressleaf groundsel is another name for the widespread wildflower that  grows through the central and southern U.S.  It also sometimes is commonly called yellowtop (but so are some other plants).

Butterweed flowers during the cool weather of spring with terminal branched clusters (corymbs) of daisy-like flowers.  This member of the daisy family, Asteraceae, sometimes fills pastures with what some regard as wonderful, photogenic wildflowers.  Ranchers regard this plant as a terrible toxic weed that can kill cattle or horses.  Cindy Hersh (Class of 2016) recently reported seeing it in her neighborhood on the barrier island in Brevard County.

Its stems are smooth, ribbed, succulent, and hollow.  Plants can grow to be to be 3′ tall.

Its leaves are smooth and alternate.  Its basal leaves are deeply lobed and larger.  The upper leaves are far smaller and often sessile (stemless).

Donna Winter (Class of 2016) shared this fabulous photo of what was on the underside of one of the leaves of this plant …

Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory Associate Professor Dr. Lary Reeves identified the larvae:  “leaf beetle larvae in the family Chrysomelidae – probably this guy: https://bugguide.net/node/view/127900“.
Donna tentatively identified the spider as a goldenrod crab spider (Misumena vatia), a flower spider known for hunting its prey in goldenrod flowers.  Dr. Reeves said that her ID “is a good possibility. There are a few others it could be though. The identification section here: https://bugguide.net/node/view/6749 has some good info on the subject.”
Whatever the species, it was wonderful to see lots of biodiversity at Treasure Hammock Ranch.