Zizia aptera
Prairie golden alexanders
Image of Zizia aptera

Photo by Ryan P. O'Connor 

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Key Characteristics

Low forb of dry open hillsides; basal leaves broadly heart-shaped, stem leaves divided into three segments, all leaves finely toothed; tiny yellow flowers are borne terminally in flat-topped umbels, the central floret stalkless, with fruits that have pronounced ribs.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S1S2
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Zizia aptera

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Prairie golden alexanders occurs on steep, gravelly, west or south-facing hillsides dominated by oak and white pine. The Upper Peninsula populations occur in disturbed clearings.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Black oak, white oak, chinquapin oak, big and little bluestem, alum root, kitten-tails, black-eyed susan, shrubby cinquefoil, ox-eye daisy, self-heal, yarrow, Carex capillaris, C. castanea, harebell, Indian paintbrush, and wood lily.


This species benefits from maintenance of the savanna community. Brush removal and prescribed burns are recommended. Sites tend to heavily brush in without the natural disturbance regime. Most examples of these sites are small and becoming degraded through further landscape fragmentation and lack of management. Many sites have also been lost to development, as the hillsides are often prime real estate overlooking scenic vistas.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgment of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/explorer [Accessed Sep 22, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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