Weed of the month – Oct 2017


(Senecio vulgaris)

(Photos: E.Cousins; weed growing with other weeds; a stem; close-up of flower head)

Senecios come in many forms … from the rare and unusual to the very common, and from trees through to small weedy herbs such as this one. This groundsel grows to about knee high, with clusters of flower heads at the end of the stems. The individual flowers are only about 1cm long, and don’t seem to open properly, probably because of all those bracts surrounding the petals! Only a millimetre or two of the yellow petals show at the top. There are 15 bracts or more, each tipped with black as can be seen in the 3rd photo above. There are also lots of little bracts at the base of the flower head, again edged in black. Eventually the flower head produces a fluffy white ball, with the seed on the inside of the ball, waiting to be blown away like dandelion seed. Although this weed is found along our coastlines and in our national parks, it is more common in urban areas, or disturbed sites.