Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Yellow Buttercups, Yellow Alder, Sage Rose
Turnera ulmifolia

Family: Passifloraceae (pas-ih-flor-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Turnera (TER-ner-uh) (Info)
Species: ulmifolia (ul-mif-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)

One vendor has this plant for sale.

12 members have or want this plant for trade.

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Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Unknown - Tell us

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost
By air layering

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 15 photos.
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15 positives
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Nowyousedum On Oct 4, 2013, Nowyousedum from Oklahoma City, OK wrote:

This was a volunteer plant in my garden. A nursery thought it might be allamanda, but that is trumpet-shaped. Found out what it was on this site! So happy to have it in my garden! If it is a little invasive, all the better. I would love to have it again next year.

Positive chuck7701 On Jun 12, 2013, chuck7701 from McKinney, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Bright yellow flowers and heavy green contrast makes for a wonderful plant as a summer filler and easy to grow.

Easily self seeds, the seedlings like consistent warmth to sprout, so a late starter in Zone 8. Can grow year round for you otherwise. Will freeze easily, transplanting them when large can cause fatal shock. However, seedlings (under 6 inches) transplant very easily.

As mentioned on one review - trim sides occasionally by 1/3 to keep bush structure.

Positive LipLock On Oct 24, 2011, LipLock from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is another plant that will always have a place in my Central Texas garden. It loves the heat and is covered in flowers from April thru November. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love it. It thrives in the sun but will tolerate part shade too. I've had it in my Zone 8B garden for several years but this past spring is the first time it has ever reseeded. It came up everywhere and I couldn't be happier. I have both the yellow and "white" variety (which is my favorite - it's not really white, rather a buttery color with a dark center). Unlike a previous poster, I was able to transplant several of them this past spring when they were about 2" tall. I just spaded them up and moved them. They survived (and thrived in) this worst drought and hottest summer on record in Texas. They can be difficult to find. I had to drive to Rosenberg to Caldwell's Nursery the past 2 years to get them. I love em!

Positive micki33040 On Sep 26, 2011, micki33040 from Big Coppitt Key, FL wrote:

This plant is also known as "Yellow Alder" and "Sage Rose." It is tenacious and grows just about anywhere: full sun, shade, dry or moist soil, acidic to alkaline; rich, average, or poor soil; and in the cracks of a sidewalk. It is very drought tolerant.

It does not appear to have many pests, or is not bothered by the ocassional nibble.

It can be grown from seeds and cuttings, but does not transplant well. It does not like having it's feet tickled. The most effective way to transplant is to start it in a peat pot and, if you are going to plant it into the ground, put it in the spot you want it in and leave it alone. I tried to transplant a 2' tall specimen keeping a generous amount of dirt around the root ball, but it went into transplant shock and died anyway.

I have learned it is very comfortable in containers and does not mind becoming root bound. In pots they can be moved around as they grow taller. My oldest Alder plant is about four years old and about 4 1/2 feet high and it has been moved around the garden as the seasons change.

They make beautiful background plants. They can get leggy and may require some staking, so trim the side growth by 1/3 to 1/2 to encourage it to get bushy.

On the down side, most nurseries in Florida do not offer them because they regard them to be weeds and crowd out other plants. I treat mine the same way as mints and ruella (Texas petunia): I pull volunteer plants and keep it contained.

On the up-side, this plant , according to Pub, has the potential to treat MRSA.

I hope this information helped fellow gardners decide if they want this "gypsy" in their garden.


Positive rntx22 On Aug 14, 2011, rntx22 from Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Growing mine in a pot. It died back in the winter but slowly came back from the roots. Also self seeded around the garden so I have several now! Just pulled up the ones I don't want. Stays loaded with blooms, bees & butterflies love it.

Positive Artistic1 On Jun 17, 2009, Artistic1 from Dickinson, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

Bought this plant at the Mercer Arboretum Sale in Houston,TX as Yellow Alder. Has been great. I have it in both pots and in beds. Have rooted it in water. Keep clippings which root in opaque vase on my desk at work and they keep blooming. Blooms all year in this climate.

Neutral htop On Mar 28, 2009, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have not grown this plant. Yellow Buttercups, Yellow Alder, Sage Rose (Turnera ulmifolia) is native to Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It was introduced to Hawaii and has naturalized.

Positive easter794 On Apr 15, 2008, easter794 from Seffner, FL wrote:

This plant roots very easily. I saw this growing and had been admiring it for a while. I took a cutting and rooted it in water. It grew roots in a matter of days and I planted it in a pot.

Neutral Islandshari On Jul 23, 2007, Islandshari from Kwajalein
Marshall Islands (Zone 11) wrote:

This plant is quite lovely to my DH and I. We had several cuttings, and then noticed that it was popping up everywhere. On our last EarthDay we picked up lots of paperwork - and here was Tunera ulmifolia on the "invasive weed" list with a request not to plant it! Luckily we only plant in containers here, so we have kept it under control...but just wanted to post the warning.

Positive Janey On Aug 14, 2006, Janey from Deltona, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I bought two yellow Buttercup plants at Home Depot in Orange City, Fla., and liked them so well, went back for two white ones. I have them in my yard in Deltona, Fla. They are doing well.

Positive cyndit On Jan 28, 2006, cyndit from Ocoee, FL wrote:

I bought this plant at a local Lowe's hardware store. But, about a year after planting, it moved from it's original place in my garden to replant itself in 2 differnent places in a different flower bed around the corner of my house! I'm sure the birds, or wind, spread the seeds. But, I was pleasingly surprised to find it offering up those marvelous yellow blossoms the next summer. The butterflies definitely enjoy the blossoms. It is easy to prune when necessary and it will readily bush back out with new growth.

Positive MotherNature4 On Aug 19, 2005, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I love this plant, but never knew of the connection between it and papayas. I'm going to take action on that one right away. Thanks for the great hint, Foodiesleuth.

Positive foodiesleuth On Jun 13, 2004, foodiesleuth from Honomu, HI (Zone 11) wrote:

smfiol says:
Turnera ulmifolia (Cuban Buttercup) is the official flower of Cienfuegos, Cuba

I brought some from Miami to Hawaii (illegally, I might add) thinking to have a little bit of my home town in a new setting......imagine my surprise when I found this plant growing everywhere on the Big Island.

Grows easily from cuttings. Makes a wonderful filler and if planted near papaya trees, fruit flies will sting the bloom and not the papayas.

Positive elcee2 On Jun 10, 2004, elcee2 from Fort Lauderdale, FL wrote:

This plant is easily propagated from stem cuttings. Leafminers are sometimes a problem, taking away from the attractiveness of the foilage. Pinch off damaged leaves, or if serious infestation, cut plant down to woody stems. It will bush back out in no time.

Positive smfiol On Jun 10, 2004, smfiol from Miami, FL wrote:

Turnera ulmifolia (Cuban Buttercup) is the official flower of Cienfuegos, Cuba

Positive kimkaygirl On Oct 21, 2003, kimkaygirl from Mobile, AL wrote:

This plant grows very well in Mobile Alabama. I've had a lot of success with this plant in both full sun and partial shade. Blooms stay open most of the day.

Positive butterflypea On Nov 24, 2002, butterflypea wrote:

In Hawaii, Turnera ulmifolia is known as "Sundrops". It is a perennial and blooms year round, growng into a four-foot bush. The two-inch wide, bright yellow flowers open in the morning and are closed by noon. It has tiny seeds that sow prolifically. It will often grow out of a crack in the sidewalk after a seed germinates there.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bartow, Florida
Brandon, Florida
Casselberry, Florida
Clearwater, Florida
Delray Beach, Florida
Destin, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Key West, Florida
Mayo, Florida
Melbourne, Florida
Melbourne Beach, Florida
Miami, Florida (3 reports)
Miami Beach, Florida
Naples, Florida
New Port Richey, Florida
North Palm Beach, Florida
Ocoee, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Palm Bay, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida (2 reports)
Port Charlotte, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Saint Cloud, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Seffner, Florida
Spring Hill, Florida
Tampa, Florida (2 reports)
Umatilla, Florida
West Palm Beach, Florida (2 reports)
Williston, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Honomu, Hawaii
Thibodaux, Louisiana
Lincoln Park, Michigan
Ashville, Ohio
Anderson, Texas
Austin, Texas
Deer Park, Texas
Dickinson, Texas
Floresville, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Houston, Texas
Huntsville, Texas
Mc Kinney, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Tyler, Texas
Victoria, Texas
Willis, Texas

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