Golden Alexander, Zizia aurea
Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea) is an early-blooming member of the Carrot family (Apiaceae) that grows to be 2 or 3 feet tall. This species can be identified by its conspicuous yellow flower clusters and leaves with 3 to 5 pointed leaflets. A single flower cluster may contain up to 250 individual flowers! Golden Alexander is pollinated by bees, flies, beetles and other insects. Look for Golden Alexander blooming throughout the prairie from mid-May through early June.
Golden Alexander can be mistaken for Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa), an invasive species whose sap can cause extreme sensitivity to sunlight and blistering when it contacts skin. Both species flower in early summer, have compound leaves, and yellow flower clusters. However, Wild Parsnip tends to be much larger than Golden Alexander and the leaves of Golden Alexander are more finely serrated and pointed.