Several years ago, upon taking a deeper dive into native plants, I kept hearing about a plant named Zizia. Everyone raved about its prowess as a pollinator workhorse in the garden. I decided I must learn more, and I was not disappointed.
Zizia, also known as Golden Alexanders (Zizia aurea), is an easy-to-grow, spring-blooming perennial native to South Carolina. Golden Alexanders grow in full to partial sun. They mature into a one to two feet tall and wide clump, exploding into yellow clusters of tiny flowers called umbels from April through May.
Golden Alexanders occur naturally in wet, sunny meadows, abandoned fields, and open woodlands. They prefer moist, well-drained soil but will tolerate clay soil and dry summer conditions.
This perennial is easily established in the garden by transplants or seeds. Seeds need a period of cold stratification to germinate. Sow seeds in the fall for plants to sprout in the spring.
Golden Alexanders umbel flowers may remind you of Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota), and for a good reason. Like Queen Anne’s lace, they are a member of the carrot family, Apiaceae.
When few flowers are available for small native bees and wasps, Golden Alexanders provide nectar for these tiny garden helpers. The small flowers are just the right size for insects with short tongues. It is also a larval host plant for the Black Swallowtail butterfly.
Golden Alexanders are perfect for a native planting or meadow garden. For more information about wildflowers and native plants, visit Too Much Turf? Think About a Meadow Garden and HGIC 1157, Wildflowers.