Don’t eat the flowers
Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010 12:06 pm
The Messenger, April 22, 2010
Yellow flowers growing in fields across Obion County are not Yellow Rocket Flowers, as indicated in The Messenger on Monday, and should not be eaten, according to local University of Tennessee Extension officials, who said they are cressleaf groundsel, a potentially toxic plant.
Cressleaf groundsel is a member of the Aster/Composite family. It goes by many other names, including butterweed, yellowtop, golden ragwort and yellow ragwort. It has a winter annual life cycle, meaning that it emerges in the fall and flowers in the spring, according to OSU Extension specialists.
As a seedling in the fall, cressleaf groundsel appears very similar to yellow rocket, having rounded-tipped leaves with no lobes at first. Lobes become apparent as the later leaves emerge. Lobes of cressleaf groundsel leaves have an opposite orientation, compared to the smaller size and alternate orientation of yellow rocket leaves. The lobes have serrated to toothed margins. Cressleaf groundsel leaves and stems are usually quite purple in color. The stems of cressleaf groundsel are hollow and grooved, and the entire plant is hairless. The flowers are similar to those of other species in the Aster family, having ray (outside) and disk (center) petals. Both petals are bright yellow in color, with the ray petals being 0.33 to 0.75 inches in length.
Cessleaf groundsel are considered potentially toxic plants because they contain compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). These are metabolized in the liver to other compounds that are toxic, primarily to the liver cells.