Asteraceae: Sunflower Family – Senecio Tribe: Senecio

The Sunflower family is a very large family with over 25,000 members.  Botanists subdivide the family into a number of tribes, of which 14 are represented in Monterey County.  The Senecio tribe comprises a mixture of obviously daisy-like flowers, plus others with discoid or disciform heads.  These have no or only tiny ray flowers.  This page shows members of the Senecio genus, including one native and several non-native species.

California Ragwort – Senecio californicus

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

10–50 cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

 

Native

Habitat:

Dry woodland slopes

Notes:

The flowers are in clusters with 10–15 strap-shaped, slightly reflexed ray flowers about 1 cm long. The tips of the ray flowers are not lobed, unlike those on most Tarweeds (Madia & Layia). Phyllaries are black-tipped and the involucre  bell-shaped. Leaves are long, lanceolate to lance-linear and clasping, sometimes serrated or pinnately-lobed.

Red-purple Ragwort – Senecio elegans

Blooms:

Mar–June

Plant Height:

20–50+ cm

Flower Size:

Medium

Origin:

South Africa

Habitat:

Disturbed coastal areas

Notes:

This plant is unmistakable, with its bright red to pink-purple ray flowers, and dark purple to black phyllary tips. There are 13–21 ray flowers, 10–15 mm long. Lower leaves are 1–2 times pinnately lobed.

Cut-leaved Burnweed / Fireweed – Senecio glomeratus

Blooms:

June–Aug

Plant Height:

0.6–2 m

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Australasia

Habitat:

Disturbed coastal or near-coastal sites below 300 m

Notes:

This and Coast Burnweed (Senecio minimus, see below) are very similar, both having clusters of small disciform heads with yellow disk flowers.  Cut-leaved Burnweed leaves have conspicuous, irregular lobes and its flowers are slightly larger. Its general appearance  is more  yellowish than green.

Coast Burnweed / Fireweed – Senecio minumus

Blooms:

July–Sept

Plant Height:

1–2 m

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Australasia

Habitat:

Disturbed coastal or near-coastal places

Notes:

This and Cut-leaved Burnweed (Senecio glomeratus, see above) are very similar, both having clusters of small disciform heads with yellow disk flowers.  Coast Burnweed leaves are entire, finely toothed and its flowers are slightly smaller. Its general appearance  is more greenish than yellow.

Wood Ragwort – Senecio sylvaticus

Blooms:

Mar–Sept

Plant Height:

15–80 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

European

Habitat:

Disturbed places, especially coastal

Notes:

Inflorescences are similar to those of Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris, see below) except they are in open clusters.  Individual heads are more slender and they have minute ray flowers.  Leaves are also similar to Common Groundsel except smaller.

Common Groundsel – Senecio vulgaris

Blooms:

All year

Plant Height:

10–60 cm

Flower Size:

Small

Origin:

Europe, Asia

Habitat:

Disturbed areas

Notes:

A very common weed, with distinctive black-tipped phyllaries and bractlets.  Each discoid flower head contains 55–65 bright, small disk flowers, but no ray flowers. Leaves are coarsely toothed to pinnate.