This native perennial is found most often in small colonies in moist woods and meadows, thickets, glades and prairies. It is a food plant for the larvae of the Missouri woodland swallowtail butterfly (Papilio joanae).
Golden Alexander grows 1-2 feet in height and its leaves have small teeth along the edge and an overall palm-shaped or maple-leaf outline. It has a long bloom time, displaying from late spring into summer. Will self-seed.
This plant is often confused with the Wild Parsnip, a highly-invasive weed that can cause skin burns. Distinguish them by Wild Parsnips later bloom time, significantly taller foliage (up to 5′, although the first year or two it is low growing with no vertical flowering stem). Wild Parsnips umbrella-shaped flower heads are two to 10-inches wide, containing many tiny yellow flowers. Leaves are feather-shaped, with many large-toothed leaflets growing from a central vein.