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Illustration Senecio vulgaris0.jpg
Senecio vulgaris, an illustration from 1885.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Subfamily: Asteroideae
Tribe: Senecioneae
Subtribe: Senecioninae
Genus: Senecio
Type species
Senecio vulgaris L.

Some 1500, see text


Jacobaea L.
Vendredia Baill.
Culcitium Humb. & Bonpl

Senecio /sˈnʃi./[2] is a genus of the daisy family (Asteraceae) that includes ragworts and groundsels. The Latin name means "old man".

Variously circumscribed, the genus Senecio is one of the largest genera of flowering plants, cleaved or not of species belonging to other genera. The 'traditional' circumscription of Senecio is artificial, being polyphyletic, even in its new circumscription which is based on genetic data.[3][4] Despite the separation of many species into other genera the genus still contains c. 1250 species and is one of the largest genera of flowering plants.[5] As no morphological synapomorphies are known to determine which species belong to the genus or not no exact species numbers are known. The genus is nearly worldwide distributed[3] and evolved in the mid to late Miocene.[6]

Some species produce natural biocides (especially alkaloids) to deter or even kill animals that would eat them.

Senecio species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species — see list of Lepidoptera that feed on Senecio. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids have been found in Senecio nemorensis[7] and in Senecio cannabifolius var. integrilifolius[8]


The flower heads are normally rayed, completely yellow, and the heads are borne in branched clusters, but green, purple, white and blue flowers are known as well. In its current circumscription, the genus contains species that are annual or perennial herbs, shrubs, small trees, aquatics and climbers. The only species which are trees are the species formerly belonging to Robinsonia occurring on the Juan Fernández Islands.[9]


The genus is nearly worldwide distributed.[3] Senecio is one of the few genera occurring in all five regions with Mediterranean climate. Furthermore, species are found in mountainous regions, including tropical alpine-like areas.


Many genera and the whole tribe are in need of revision. Many species actually being placed in the genus need to be transferred to other or new genera, others have been retransferred to Senecio. In its new delimitation the genus is still not monophyletic.[3]

Genera that have been included are the following:[3]


The following genera contain species that are or have been included within Senecio.[3]

Selected species[edit]

Formerly in Senecio

See also[edit]

Ragwort Control Act 2003


  1. ^ a b c Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) (2007-05-04). "Genus: Senecio L.". Taxonomy for Plants. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program, National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  3. ^ a b c d e f Pelser, Pieter B.; Nordenstam, Bertil; Kadereit, Joachim W.; Watson, Linda E. (2007). "An ITS Phylogeny of Tribe Senecioneae (Asteraceae) and a New Delimitation of Senecio L". Taxon 56 (4): 1077. doi:10.2307/25065905. JSTOR 25065905. 
  4. ^ Passalacqua, Nicodemo G.; Peruzzi, Lorenzo; Pellegrino, Giuseppe (August 2008). "A Biosystematic Study of the Jacobaea maritima Group (Asteraceae, Senecioneae) in the Central Mediterranean Area". Taxon 57 (3): 893–906. JSTOR 27756716. 
  5. ^ Frodin, David G. (2004). "History and concepts of big plant genera". Taxon 53 (3): 753–76. doi:10.2307/4135449. JSTOR 4135449. 
  6. ^ Pelser, Pieter B.; Kennedy, Aaron H.; Tepe, Eric J.; Shidler, Jacob B.; Nordenstam, Bertil; Kadereit, Joachim W.; Watson, Linda E. (2010-05-01). "Patterns and causes of incongruence between plastid and nuclear Senecioneae (Asteraceae) phylogenies". American Journal of Botany 97 (5): 856–873. doi:10.3732/ajb.0900287. ISSN 0002-9122. PMID 21622451. 
  7. ^ Shi, Bao-Jun; Xiong, Ai-Zhen; Zheng, Shan-Song; Chou, Gui-Xin; Wang, Zheng-Tao (2010). "Two new pyrrolizidine alkaloids from Senecio nemorensis". Natural Product Research 24 (20): 1897. doi:10.1080/14786419.2010.482058. PMID 21128163. 
  8. ^ Ma, H; Yang, L; Wang, C; Wang, Z (2011). "Pyrrolizidine alkaloids of Senecio cannabifolius var. Integrilifolius". Zhongguo Zhong yao za zhi = Zhongguo zhongyao zazhi = China journal of Chinese materia medica 36 (2): 166–8. PMID 21506416. 
  9. ^ Pelser, Pieter B.; Tepe, Eric J.; Kennedy, Aaron H.; Watson, Linda E. (2013-06-10). "The fate of Robinsonia (Asteraceae): sunk in Senecio , but still monophyletic?". Phytotaxa 5 (1): 31–46. doi:10.11646/phytotaxa.5.1.2. ISSN 1179-3163. 
  10. ^ Norton, D.A. (1986). "Recent changes in the names of New Zealand tree and shrub species" (PDF). New Zealand Journal of Forestry 31: 39–40. 
  11. ^ Sean Claes (2007-04-16). "Proceed With Caution". Kyle, Texas Daily Photo. Retrieved 2008-04-10. 
  12. ^ Connecticut Botanical Society (November 13, 2005). "Golden Ragwort". Connecticut Wildflowers. Retrieved 2008-02-09. Golden Ragwort is one of three species of ragwort in Connecticut, all with similar flowers. 
  13. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "German Ivy". Encyclopedia Americana. 
  14. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "German Ivy". The American Cyclopædia. 1879. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Senecio at Wikimedia Commons