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Packera aurea facts for kids

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Golden ragwort
Golden Ragwort Senecio aureus Flowers 2616px.jpg
Scientific classification
Synonyms

Senecio aureus L.
Senecio gracilis Pursh

Packera aurea (formerly Senecio aureus), commonly known as golden ragwort or simply ragwort, is a perennial flower in the family Asteraceae. It is also known as golden groundsel, squaw weed, life root, golden Senecio, uncum, uncum root, waw weed, false valerian, cough weed, female regulator, cocash weed, ragweed, staggerwort, and St. James wort.

It is native to eastern North America, from Labrador to Minnesota and from North Carolina to Arkansas (with additional populations in the panhandle of Florida).

Constituents

Active compounds include:

  • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) florosenine, otosenine, and floridanine.
  • Eremophilane sesquiterpenes, such as trans-9-oxofuranoeremophilane, 8x-ethoxy-l0x-H-eremophilane, and caccalol.

Medicinal uses

In contemporary times, P. aurea is not much used due to its saturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids which can cause liver veno-occlusive disease upon metabolism. If used, a PA-free extract would be required for safe use for more than a two-week course.

Life root, as it was called by the Eclectics, was used as a uterine tonic. It is an ingredient in Lydia Pinkham's compound.

The plant was an important treatment among the Native Americans.

Relationship with the cinnabar moth

The cinnabar moth feeds mostly on ragwort and has been introduced as a control measure in places where it has become a problem weed.

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