Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Senecio vulgaris, Common Groundsel

Common Groundsel has showy yellow disk flowers in loose flat-topped clusters that bloom from February to July. Note Weevil in photograph climbing on and above distinctive Senecio phyllaries. Senecio vulgaris Common Groundsel has green leaves tapered to a stalk (petiole); leaves are ovate to oblanceolate and the margins are lobed as in the photograph. Senecio vulgaris Common Groundsel has 8 to 20 loose flat-topped flower heads, all discoid florets. Plants grow as weeds under general landscape watering needs but particularly in irrigated areas. Senecio vulgaris Common Groundsel is an introduced species from Eurasia, now naturalized throughout all of North America. Although mostly glabrous, young plants are covered with uneven dense soft white hairs (tomentose) as noted in the photograph. Senecio vulgaris

Scientific Name: Senecio vulgaris
Common Name: Common Groundsel
Also Called: Old-Man-in-the-Spring
Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family
Synonyms: ()
Status: Introduced and naturalized from Eurasia.
Duration: Annual, biennial.
Size: Up to 8 inches or more (23").
Growth Form: Forb/herb; plants with 1 or numerous (10) stems; initially glabrous, young plants with uneven tomentose.
Leaves: Green; petiolate; ovate to oblanceolate, tapered to leaf stalk (petiole); margins lobulate to dentate.
Flower Color: Yellow; flower heads 8 to 20 loose flat-topped corymbiform clusters; discoid, florets 30 (55-65); flowers in loose flat-topped clusters; phyllaries usually green or black-tipped; fruit densely hairy.
Flowering Season: February to July.
Elevation: Below 4,000 feet.

Habitat Preferences: Grows as a weed under general landscape watering needs; irrigated areas, farm lands.

Recorded Range: Common Groundsel is a common weed found throughout all of North America, Europe and Asia.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Senecio vulgaris.

U.S. Weed Information: In North America Senecio vulgaris can be weedy or invasive according to the following authoritative sources: Weeds of the Northeast; Invasive exotic pest plants in Tennessee; Weeds of the West; Invasive plant list. Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, Florida; Weeds of Kentucky and adjacent states: a field guide; Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains; Weeds of the United States and Canada; and Weeds of the West. Listed as a weed in Manitoba, Canada. Plants included here may become weedy or invasive.

Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: In North America Senecio vulgaris is listed as a Noxious Weed by the federal government and/or a State: Washington, Common Groundsel, Class C noxious weed. Plants included here are invasive or noxious.

Wetland Indicator: In North America Senecio vulgaris has the following wetland designations: Hawaii, FACU; Alaska, FACU; Arid West, FACU; Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, UPL; Eastern Mountains and Piedmont, FACU; Great Plains, FACU; Midwest, UPL; Northcentral & Northeast, FACU; Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FACU.
FACU = Facultative Upland, usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands
UPL = Obligate Upland, almost never occur in wetlands.

Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Genus Information: In North America there are 70 species for Senecio. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica identify about 1,200 species distributed throughout the world.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 13 species of genus, California has 25 species, Nevada has 15 species, New Mexico has 22 species, Texas has 9 species, Utah has 18 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: Senecio vulgaris is listed under Plants Poisonous to Livestock and other Animals by Cornell University, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Department of Animal Science.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see Lemmon's Ragwort, Senecio lemmonii, Threadleaf Ragwort, Senecio flaccidus var. flaccidus and Smooth Threadleaf Ragwort, Senecio flaccidus var. monoensis.

Date Profile Completed: 05/08/2017, updated format 10/11/2017
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 05/05/2017)
Hosch, William L., Feb 15, 2008; The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica; Access Date: May 05, 2017
Theodore M. Barkley†, FNA| Family List | FNA Vol. 20 | Asteraceae | Senecio; 37. Senecio vulgaris Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 867. 1753.; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
Debra K. Trock 2017.; Senecio vulgaris, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on May 05, 2017.
Cornell University, Animal Science Department - (accessed 05/05/2017).
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information - (accessed 05/05/2017).