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Zizia are plants that are of the genus Zizia. The genus is native to North America. Their characteristic features are compound leaves, and yellow flowers that are ternately compound. Their leaves are also flat in a wingless fruit.Zizia aurea grows to 40 to 75 centimetres (16 to 30 in) tall but can sometimes grow taller. The leaves are 8 cm (3+1⁄4 in) long and 5 cm (2 in) wide. They are attached to the stems alternately. Each leaf is compound and odd-pinnate, with leaflets that are normally lanceolate or ovate with serrated edges. The root system consists of a dense cluster of coarse fibrous roots.
Zizia is a member of the Carrot (Apiaceae) family with yellow umbel flowers. Our website also features the following species with similar blossoms: Taenidia integerrima (Yellow Pimpernel), Polytaenia nuttallii (Prairie Parsley) and Thaspium trifoliatum (Meadow Parsnip). Of course Zizia aptera (Heart-leaf Golden Alexanders), is most similar and could be difficult to distinguish from Zizia aurea were it not for the heart-shaped leaves at the base of the plant. Heart-leaf Golden Alexanders can endure drier soils also.Golden Alexanders often grow in colonies. In late spring and early summer it is a common sight across Minnesota in open prairies, woodland edges, and roadsides with adequate moisture.
There are several related species with similar yellow flower clusters but only the Zizia species have a stalkless flower in the center of an umblet—other genera have all-stalked flowers. This trait can be seen when either flowers or fruits are present. Of the similar species, Heart-leaved Alexanders (Zizia aptera) has long-stalked, undivided, heart-shaped lower leaves. Yellow Pimpernel (Taenidia integerrima) has rather airier clusters and toothless leaflets. Hairy-jointed Meadow Parsnip (Thaspium barbinode) has winged fruits, and minute hairs around the leaf nodes and at the base of the umbel. Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), a highly invasive species found across Minnesota, is a much larger plant (often 4-5+ feet tall) with a larger flower cluster (to 8 inches across), duller, somewhat greenish-yellow flowers, once-compound leaves with up to 15 leaflets, and it blooms later, typically just emerging when Golden Alexanders are in full bloom. (Source: www.minnesotawildflowers.info)