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Genus Senecio Family Asteraceae

Description: Annual or perennial herbs or shrubs or rarely climbers, stems usually striate.

Leaves alternate, simple, margins entire, toothed or variously lobed, reducing in size up stem, mostly pinnately veined; petiolate or sessile and base often auriculate; stipules usually absent.

Heads terminal, solitary or few to many in corymbose panicles; involucral bracts 1-seriate with small bracteoles usually present at base of involucre; receptacle flat to convex, usually without scales, sometimes pitted. Heads usually with numerous florets; either all florets tubular and bisexual, or outer filiform and female and inner tubular and bisexual, or outer ray florets female with yellow, pink or white ligules and inner disc florets tubular and bisexual. Anthers obtuse to shortly tailed at base. Style branches filiform, truncate.

Achenes ± terete, often ribbed, usually with short appressed hairs along ribs and/or grooves; pappus of slender hairs, usually not persistent.


Photo © ANBG

Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 2000 species, cosmopolitan. Australia: c. 50 species, all States.

S. georgianus DC. has been recorded for this State; however, this poorly understood species is presumed to be extinct. An imperfect specimen was collected on the 'Clarence River' (by Beckler) and 'on the banks of Lake George' (by Cunningham). This taxon is distinguished from closely related taxa by the narrow-lanceolate leaves, numerous florets (up to 40) and the usually tomentose indumentum. Refs. Bentham (1866), Leigh et al (1984).

Text by G. J. Harden
Taxon concept:

Taxa not yet included in identification key
Senecio angulatus,    Senecio bathurstianus,    Senecio brigalowensis,    Senecio campylocarpus,    Senecio distalilobatus,    Senecio esleri,    Senecio extensus,    Senecio georgianus,    Senecio glabrescens,    Senecio glastifolius,    Senecio howeanus,    Senecio interpositus,    Senecio lacustrinus,    Senecio lageniformis,    Senecio lanibracteus,    Senecio longicollaris,    Senecio longipilus,    Senecio macrocarpus,    Senecio macroglossus,    Senecio microbasis,    Senecio murrayanus,    Senecio nigrapicus,    Senecio niveoplanus,    Senecio pauciradiatus,    Senecio phelleus,    Senecio pinnatifolius,    Senecio productus,    Senecio psilophyllus,    Senecio queenslandicus,    Senecio scabrellus,    Senecio spanomerus,    Senecio spathulatus,    Senecio squarrosus

 Key to the species 
1Heads non-radiate; either all florets tubular and bisexual or outer florets filiform and female and inner florets tubular and bisexual2
Heads radiate; marginal florets female with usually conspicuous and spreading ligules; disc florets bisexual, more numerous than the female florets20
2Involucral bracts regularly 5–9, rarely 10 or 11 in some but not all heads; florets usually 8–25, rarely to 403
Involucral bracts regularly more than 10; florets 25–70, rarely less
                       Back to 1
10
3Most leaves less than 5 cm long; florets 20–40, outer florets with ligules 1–2 mm longSenecio glossanthus
Most leaves more than 5 cm long; florets 8–25; ray florets absent
                       Back to 2
4
4Leaves pinnatisect to 2-pinnatisect into filiform or linear segments5
Leaves not deeply divided into narrow segments, margins either entire or toothed or incised into broad lobes
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6
5Most leaves bipinnatisect, segments flat, mostly 1.5–3 mm wide; florets exserted only slightly beyond involucre at anthesis; coast and tableland speciesSenecio bipinnatisectus
Most leaves pinnatisect, segments more or less terete, mostly 1–1.5 mm wide; florets exserted 3–5 mm beyond involucre at anthesis; western species
                       Back to 4
Senecio anethifolius
6Leaves pinnatifid, lobes usually 1–5 each side, broad and margins more or less toothed7
Leaves not lobed, margins entire or toothed
                       Back to 4
8
7Leaves with acute lobes, both surfaces glabrous or softly hairy, greenSenecio biserratus
Leaves with rounded lobes, both surfaces more or less bristly, lower surface purplish
                       Back to 6
Senecio picridioides
8Outer florets filiform and female, inner florets tubular and bisexual; florets exserted 0–2.5 mm beyond involucre at anthesis; chiefly coastal and tableland species, also on the Western Slopes9
Florets all tubular and bisexual, exserted 3–5 mm beyond involucre at anthesis; western plains species
                       Back to 6
Senecio cunninghamii
9Leaves on stems lanceolate to narrow-elliptic, usually 10–30 mm wide, margins regularly and finely toothed, base stem-clasping with retrorse auricles; bracteoles 2 or 3Senecio minimus
Middle leaves on stems more or less oblanceolate to linear, 2–10 mm wide, margins irregularly and coarsely toothed to entire, base not distinctly stem-clasping, auricles absent or present; bracteoles more than 3
                       Back to 8
Senecio diaschides
10Involucral bracts usually 18–23; florets 50–70, all tubular and bisexualSenecio vulgaris
Involucral bracts usually 11–13, rarely 14 or 15 in some heads; florets mostly 25–55, rarely to 70 or 12–20, outer florets filiform and female, inner florets tubular and bisexual
                       Back to 2
11
11Middle leaves pinnatisect to bipinnatisect, lobes regularly less than 4 mm wide and more than 10 mm long12
Middle leaves entire or variously toothed or if lobed leaves pinnatifid and lobes mostly more than 4 mm wide and less than 10 mm long
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13
12Leaves and stems glabrous or sparsely cottony-haired when young; leaves runcinate-pinnatisect, the lobes retrorseSenecio runcinifolius
Leaves and stems scabrous; leaves pinnatisect to bipinnatisect, lobes more or less at right angles to midrib
                       Back to 11
Senecio hispidulus
13Leaves entire or margins finely and regularly toothed; achenes 2–4 mm long14
Leaves usually coarsely and irregularly toothed, incised or irregularly lobed; achenes 1.2–2.7 mm long
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18
14Most leaves linear to more or less lanceolate or narrow-elliptic, lower surface more or less whitish or green, without a distinct petiole; involucral bracts 6.5–9 mm long15
Most leaves narrow-oblanceolate to obovate or more or less elliptic, lower surface usually purplish, tapering into a distinct petiole-like base; involucral bracts 5.5–7 mm long
                       Back to 13
17
15Leaves more than 8 mm wide, base auriculateSenecio minimus
Leaves less than 8 mm wide, base not prominently auriculate
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16
16Plants mostly whitish, densely hairy; hairs on the leaves and stems without a multicellular base, long and slender, closely appressed to the surface; achenes slender, 2.5–4 mm long, beakedSenecio quadridentatus
Plants usually green, more or less hairy; hairs on leaves and stems with a multicellular base, the long slender apices not appressed; achenes plump, 2.2–2.5 mm long, not beaked
                       Back to 15
Senecio tenuiflorus
17Middle and lower leaves 10–25 mm wide; chiefly in alpine and subalpine regionsSenecio gunnii
Leaves mostly 2–10 mm wide, sometimes basal leaves to 15 mm wide; widespread from the coast to the Western Slopes
                       Back to 14
Senecio prenanthoides
18Leaves with upper surface sparsely cobwebby to glabrescent; involucre usually cobwebbySenecio glomeratus
Leaves with upper surface more or less scabrous, hairs mainly short and tuberculate; involucre glabrous or glabrescent
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19
19Inflorescence corymbose with more than 50 heads, at first compact; involucral bracts 4–5 mm long; common and widespread speciesSenecio hispidulus
Inflorescence an open racemose cyme of 4–16 heads; involucral bracts 8–9 mm long; not common, confined to the southern tablelands
                       Back to 18
Senecio sp. N sensu Harden (1992)
20Ligules of ray florets bright pink to purpleSenecio elegans
Ligules of ray florets yellow or whitish
                       Back to 1
21
21Involucral bracts 5–14, rarely more in some heads22
Involucral bracts more than 14, rarely some heads with 12–14
                       Back to 20
38
22Involucral bracts less than 1023
Involucral bracts 10–14, rarely more in some heads
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24
23Leaves more or less circular or broad-ovate, palmately lobed and veined; ligules 8–10 mm longSenecio tamoides
Leaves lanceolate to broad-lanceolate, margins entire, toothed or pinnately lobed, venation pinnate; ligules 1–2 mm long
                       Back to 22
Senecio glossanthus
24Middle stem leaves sessile, stem-clasping, not tapered into a petiole-like base, more or less cordate with distinct auricles25
At least middle stem leaves petiolate or with petiole-like base, auricles absent or if present not broad
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28
25Lower surface of leaves and stems silvery-woollySenecio garlandii
Lower surface of leaves and stems glabrous
                       Back to 24
26
26Involucral bracts 5–7 mm long; ligules 5–8 mm long; achenes 2–4 mm long; coastal, tablelands and Western Slopes species27
Involucral bracts 7–10 mm long; ligules 8–15 mm long; achenes 5–6 mm long; western plains species
                       Back to 25
Senecio magnificus
27Bracteoles usually not present at base of involucreSenecio velleioides
Bracteoles present at base of involucre, usually 6–10 (subsp. lanceolatus)
                       Back to 26
Senecio lautus
28Involucral bracts 3–6 mm long; ligules 3–7 mm long or rarely to 9 mm long and then leaves lyrate-pinnatifid or bipinnatisect29
Involucral bracts 6–10 mm long; ligules mostly 10–20 mm long, occasionally 8–10 mm long and then leaves neither lyrate-pinnatifid nor bipinnatisect
                       Back to 24
33
29Inflorescence of solitary heads; leaves 2–3 cm long and 1–2 mm wideSenecio behrianus
Inflorescence corymbose, heads few to numerous; leaves mostly more than 3 cm long and more than 2 mm wide or with at least some leaves pinnatifid or pinnatisect
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30
30Leaves lyrate-pinnatifid or bipinnatisectSenecio jacobaea
Leaves neither lyrate-pinnatifid nor bipinnatisect
                       Back to 29
31
31Disc florets more than 12; leaves either linear to spathulate or obovate or more or less lanceolate or elliptic and 1–25 mm wide, or pinnatifid or pinnatisect, mostly less than 7 cm longSenecio lautus
Disc florets 8–12; leaves linear to lanceolate and elliptic or obovate, 5–40 mm wide and usually more than 7 cm long
                       Back to 30
32
32Lower surface of leaves glabrous and usually strongly glaucous; ray florets 7–9Senecio linearifolius var. dangarensis
Lower surface of leaves either cobwebby or glabrous and then not glaucous; ray florets usually 4–6, rarely more
                       Back to 31
Senecio linearifolius
33Involucral bracts fused except at apices; ligules 15–20 mm long; leaves linear, entireSenecio gregorii
Involucral bracts free for most of their length; ligules 8–13 mm long; leaves with margins toothed to more or less pinnatifid or pinnatisect
                       Back to 28
34
34Perennial herbs or shrubs, erect, mostly 60–150 cm high; leaves more or less ovate to elliptic, not more or less fleshy35
Rhizomatous perennial or annual herbs, stems prostrate, decumbent or more or less erect, 10–50 cm high; leaves pinnatifid or more or less oblanceolate to spathulate, more or less fleshy
                       Back to 33
36
35Leaves regularly toothed; petiole distinct; ligules 10–13 mm longSenecio amygdalifolius
Leaves irregularly toothed or lobed, base tapered and more or less petiole-like; ligules c. 10 mm long
                       Back to 34
Senecio vagus
36Leaves mostly crowded at base of stem; heads 2–5 on scape up to 25 cm longSenecio leptocarpus
Leaves scattered along stems; heads usually 1–20 in corymbs, peduncles mostly 2–10 cm long
                       Back to 34
37
37Leaves 4–8 cm long, pinnatifid; species of western plainsSenecio platylepis
Leaves 1–3 cm long, margins toothed to entire; species of seashores
                       Back to 36
Senecio spathulatus var. attenuatus
38Involucral bracts less than 7 mm long39
Involucral bracts more than 7 mm long
                       Back to 21
42
39Lower surface of leaves whitish, densely cobwebby; bracteoles at base of involucre 12–18Senecio pterophorus
Lower surface of leaves green, more or less glabrous; bracteoles at base of involucre 3–11
                       Back to 38
40
40Achenes 5–6 mm long, papillose, prominently beaked and often curved; pappus persistent, about same length as acheneSenecio tuberculatus
Achenes 1.5–2.7 mm long, glabrous or hairy, neither beaked nor curved; pappus not persistent, at least twice as long as achene
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41
41Involucral bracts usually 20 or 21; leaves narrow-lanceolate to oblanceolate with margins entire, variously toothed or rarely more or less pinnatifid; chiefly coastal divisions, also to Western SlopesSenecio madagascariensis
Involucral bracts usually 15–18; leaves linear and entire or more commonly variously pinnatisect; mostly in inland divisions (subsp. dissectifolius)
                       Back to 40
Senecio lautus
42Plants silvery-woollySenecio crassiflorus
Plants glabrous to sparsely hairy
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43
43Ligules 15–25 mm longSenecio macranthus
Ligules 6–15 mm long
                       Back to 42
44
44Leaves glaucous, more or less oblanceolate with margins toothed to entire, stem-clasping with base more or less cordate and auriculateSenecio magnificus
Leaves not glaucous, more or less linear to oblanceolate with margins entire or rarely toothed, or pinnatifid or pinnatisect, base not as above
                       Back to 43
45
45Leaves more or less oblanceolate to linear, margins entire or rarely irregularly toothedSenecio daltonii
Leaves either pinnatifid to pinnatisect or margins irregularly toothed or lobed
                       Back to 44
46
46Herbs 10–50 cm high; most leaves regularly pinnatifid47
Herb or shrub 60–120 cm high; upper leaves more or less toothed, lower leaves pinnatisect with 1–6 irregular lobes
                       Back to 45
Senecio vagus
47Leaves scattered up stem; heads usually 3–20 in a leafy corymb; arid and semi-arid regionsSenecio platylepis
Leaves mostly in a basal rosette; heads solitary on scape to 25 cm long; confined to alpine areas
                       Back to 46
Senecio pectinatus

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