Native Green-and-Gold Is a Groundcover to Treasure
Volume 24 Issue 4, Fall 2019
by Hope Woodward
I first heard about Green-and-Gold from my neighbor, whose home has been certified as a wildlife sanctuary by Audubon at Home. She extolled the beauty of the contrasting golden spring blooms against dark green foliage while noting its versatility as a groundcover under a massive walnut tree.
I therefore jumped at the chance to dig up some “G&G” plants from a recently sold home, even though I knew I would be transplanting in the height of July summer heat. Now in early fall, I can confirm that Green-and-Gold successfully adapted to their five new predominantly partial shade locations and are still sporting green foliage.
To help you consider whether Chrysogonum virginianum has a place in the soil and environs of your home, below is information about one of the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia’s “Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic.”
The name Chrysogonum is loaned to this semi-evergreen, low-growing, mat-forming perennial plant from the Greek (chrys = gold and gonu = joint for the golden axillary blooms). The plant is in the Asteraceae family and grows in zones 5-9, in the east from New York to Florida and west from Ohio to Louisiana.
Green-and-Gold is native to woodland settings, reaches 3 to 4 inches tall, and spreads from 12 to 18 inches by rhizomes and self-seeding nutlets. Its masses of small, five-petaled, daisy-like golden blooms contrast majestically with dark green hairy-leaved foliage. Blooms occur in spring, then sporadically throughout summer (although some references cite a spring and fall bloom period, depending on conditions; one of my transplants supported two blooms from early September to early October).
This pollinator-friendly native grows well in full sun and partial or filtered shade. If planted in full sun, ensure that the soil is consistently moist. However, growing in full shade is not recommended, as the plant is susceptible to mildew and root rot.
Soil preferences are reported to be average, and here the plant again demonstrates its versatility, being adaptable to well-drained soil that is acidic to neutral.
Consider using Green-and-Gold to replace non-native ground covers (such as English Ivy (Hedera helix) and Lesser Celandine (Rananculus ficaria)), as a border around pond edges and shaded paths, in rock gardens, and in a patch as a foundation for other plants. Several websites provide companion planting guidance (e.g., with Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) and Hairy Alumroot (Heuchera villosa)).
My plants successfully established although transplanted in less than ideal conditions. As plant growth is moderate to rapid, consider dividing and transplanting your established specimens as needed.
Humans are not the only creatures who find Green-and-Gold wildly attractive: I found a green sweat bee visiting one of the blooms during the last week in September. Even though one website notes that it is unpalatable to deer and other herbivores, another states that its roots benefit voles and rabbits.
Green-and-Gold can be found at the Loudoun Wildlife native plant sales and is available at many local native nurseries.
Master Gardeners of Virginia: https://mgnv.org/
Montgomery County, Maryland: www.montgomerycountymd.gov/water/Resources/Files/rainscapes/12_Deer_Resist_Plants.pdf
Missouri Botanical Garden: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php
Mount Cuba Center: http://mtcubacenter.org/plants/green-and-gold/
USDA Plants Database: https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile
Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora: http://vaplantatlas.org/index.php