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Caution - Central, North, South

Turnera ulmifolia Yellow Alder, Yellow Elder, Ramgoat Dashalong

Edward F. Gilman, Ryan W. Klein, and Gail Hansen


Yellow alder is a small shrub native to the Caribbean basin. Many stems originate close to the ground, but they branch infrequently forming an open, leggy plant. Those in the full sun branch more and stay fuller than those in partial shade. Clear yellow flowers are produced daily, each lasting several hours before closing at night. New flowers open the next morning. Leaves stay dark green with little or no fertilizer.

Full Form - Turnera ulmifolia: Yellow alder, yellow elder, ramgoat dashalong.
Figure 1. Full Form - Turnera ulmifolia: Yellow alder, yellow elder, ramgoat dashalong.
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS


Full Form - Turnera ulmifolia: Yellow alder, yellow elder, ramgoat dashalong.
Figure 2. Leaf and Flower - Turnera ulmifolia: Yellow alder, yellow elder, ramgoat dashalong.
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Turnera ulmifolia

Pronunciation: TERN-er-uh ul-miff-FOLE-lee-uh

Common name(s): yellow alder, yellow elder, ramgoat dashalong

Family: Turneraceae

Plant type: ground cover

USDA hardiness zones: 9 through 11 (Figure 3)

Planting month for zone 9: year-round

Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year-round

Origin: native to Central America, North America, Mexico, South America

Invasive potential: caution – may be recommended by UF/IFAS faculty but should be managed to prevent its escape (reassess in 2 years)

Uses: foundation; border; mass planting; ground cover; attracts butterflies

Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range

Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 3. Shaded area represents potential planting range.


Height: 2 to 3 feet

Spread: 2 to 3 feet

Plant habit: round

Plant density: moderate

Growth rate: moderate

Texture: medium


Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: serrate

Leaf shape: ovate

Leaf venation: pinnate

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: 2 to 4 inches

Leaf color: green

Fall color: no fall color change

Fall characteristic: not showy


Flower color: yellow

Flower characteristic: year-round flowering


Fruit shape: unknown

Fruit length: unknown

Fruit cover: unknown

Fruit color: unknown

Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not particularly showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems

Current year stem/twig color: green

Current year stem/twig thickness: medium


Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun

Soil tolerances: acidic; alkaline; sand; loam; clay

Drought tolerance: moderate

Soil salt tolerances: unknown

Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches


Roots: usually not a problem

Winter interest: plant has winter interest due to unusual form, nice persistent fruits, showy winter trunk, or winter flowers

Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding

Pest resistance: very sensitive to one or more pests or diseases which can affect plant health or aesthetics

Use and Management

Space plants several feet apart to form a ground cover in one season. To thicken the plant, cut stems back when they become leggy to force new branches close to the ground. To use as a low maintenance plant, consider locating alder alone as an accent in a shrub border or in a ground cover to display its natural open habit. It will display its bright yellow flowers on the outside edge of the plant without pruning. Alder seedlings often germinate near the plants and can become weeds in the landscape.

Plant yellow alder in the full sun or partial shade for best form and flowering. Plants appear to adapt to a variety of soil conditions including alkaline pH and dry sites. Freezing temperatures kill plants to the ground, but warm spring weather brings them back to life in central and south Florida.

Pests and Diseases

White flies are often found on the foliage. Severe infestations can injure the plants. Aphids and scales can also infest the foliage, but they are usually not too serious.

IFAS Assessment

Central, North, South


Caution - manage to prevent escape. May be recommended by IFAS. Will be reassessed in two years.

view assessment

Publication #FPS-593

Release Date:February 5, 2024

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About this Publication

This document is FPS-593, one of a series of the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Revised October 2023. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus; Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture; and Gail Hansen, professor, sustainable landscape design; Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Gail Hansen de Chapman
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