homepage logo

Yellow alder’s full of miniature buttercup shaped flowers

By Staff | Jul 22, 2015

Yellow Alder

Plant Subject: Yellow Alder (Turnera ulmifolia)

First impression: Oodles of miniature buttercups cover this never ending sprawling plant. Five super bright, sunny yellow petals make up each flower that measure around 2 inches across. The leggy, tentacle-like stems are covered with toothed, oval shaped shiny green leaves. This profusion of flowers is dramatic and noticeable covering a large area. I detect a slight aromatic fragrance, and see butterflies and pollinators all around. You can see this sunshine flower display even on a cloudy day blooming at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Buttercup Bush, aka, yellow alder is a fabulous garden addition. It is a must have plant for any butterfly garden. Bees and butterflies love-love-love any nectar from its tasty little flowers. I enjoy watching honeybees, long tailed skippers, and white peacock butterflies hovering, basking and sipping on one flower then another. On sunny days I routinely find them congregating at the buttercup bushes all day long!

Our star is nonnative and hails from tropical America. As a member of the Tunera genus, it is identifiable with leaves which contain thymol and emits a woody aroma when crushed. Buttercup bush is one tough plant, and is known for its salt tolerance in coastal areas. It does well in a wide variety of soils and sand, but cannot tolerate wet feet. It will grow up to 1-3 feet tall and really wide (up to 6 feet) with an erect to sprawling type manner. As it grows, its long, slender stems wave in the breeze ladened with flowers.

This fast grower is multi stemmed with oval shaped, shiny dark green, rough textured leaves. The five lemon yellow petals are reminiscent of buttercups I enjoyed in fields as a child. They have a wide face, but form a funnel for the center with filaments in a matching yellow color. The flowers close up at night and open when the sun hits them. This opening and closing gave them several nicknames of bankers bush and politicians flower because the flowers open at 10 and close by 2!

Yellow Alder

I encourage you to include yellow alder in your garden. It started its life as a weed in my garden until I noticed it bloomed all day long. Eureka, I shaped and groomed it and now love it in the garden. You can obtain our star in either sunny yellow (Turnera ulmifolia) or white (Turnera subulata). Its hearty status puts it in the easy nature and lack of pests/disease category. It’s made for our tropical climate with its drought tolerance and need for full sun. Do you have a hard to grow anything sunny spot-try planting our star and see what happens!


  • Does well in sandy soil
  • Likes full sun
  • Easy to maintain/prune
  • Pollinator attractor
  • Salt tolerance
  • Neighbors will wonder where you got all the buttercups
  • Great for a cottage garden look
  • Gives garden a happy look
  • Drought tolerant
  • Easy care
  • Flowers all year round
  • Wildlife love it
  • Great for hard to grow coastal areas.


  • Can get leggy
  • Fast grower
  • May get sudden cravings for butter
  • Pollinator attractor
  • Non native but non invasive
  • Can be finicky and not sprawl where you want it to.

Conclusion: Put on the snooze alarm, you don’t have to get up early to enjoy these fluttering flowers of sunshine. They really enjoy their beauty sleep, to look gorgeous just for you in our tropical garden in paradise.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!

Yellow Alder

**Remember we have a yearly fertilizer restriction during July 1 through Oct 2. This is a very important mandatory restriction to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into our precious waterways. Any fertilizing during our rainy season, only ends up in our water resources as unwanted algae blooms.**