Page authors: Don Knoke, David Giblin
Senecio vulgaris
common groundsel, old man in the spring

Distribution: Occurring on both sides of the Cascades crest in Washington; Alaska to California, east across most of North America to the Atlantic Coast.

Habitat: Roadsides, waste ground, lawns, and other disturbed, open sites.

Flowers: February-September

Origin: Introduced from Europe

Growth Duration: Annual

Conservation Status: Not of concern

Pollination: Bumblebees, bees, butterflies, flies, beetles


Simple or strongly-branched, tap-rooted annual, 1-4 dm. tall.


Leafy throughout, the leaves coarsely and irregularly toothed to pinnatifid, 2-10 cm. long and 5-45 mm. wide, the lower tapering to a petiole, the upper sessile and clasping.


Heads many, strictly rayless, the flowers all tubular and perfect; disk usually 5-10 mm. wide; involucre 5-8 mm. high, the princeple bracts about 21, the bracteoles short but well-developed, black tipped; pappus copious.

Identification Notes:

Separate from the only other annual Senecio in our area by the number of involucre bracts (S. vulgaris has about 21, S. sylvaticus,13), the bracteoles (only S. vulgarisÆ are black-tipped) and the aroma (only S. sylvaticus is malodorous).

Accepted Name:
Senecio vulgaris L.
Publication: Sp. Pl. 2: 867. 1753.

Synonyms & Misapplications:
(none provided)
Additional Resources:

PNW Herbaria: Specimen records of Senecio vulgaris in the Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria database.

WA Flora Checklist: Senecio vulgaris checklist entry.

OregonFlora: Senecio vulgaris information.

E-Flora BC: Senecio vulgaris atlas page.

CalPhotos: Senecio vulgaris photos.

USDA Plants: Senecio vulgaris information.

32 photographs:
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