Senecio

Family: Asteraceae
Habitat: Widespread worldwide.
Cultivation: It’s actually impossible to give instructions common to all species due to the heterogeneity of the genus. However, full sun, non-acidic soil and moderate watering are usually recommended.
Curiosity: The name “Senecio” comes from the latin word “senex”, which means “old man”. That’s because of the tuft of white hair (pappus), sprouting off the achenes (the tiny fruits of Asteraceae, similar to seeds). The name first appeared in a writing by Pliny.

KEY FEATURES

The genus Senecio includes more than 1,500 species, spread all over the world. Among these, only a few have the characteristics of succulents: usually the fleshy parts are the stems and leaves.

Senecios can have various dimensions: ranging from 20-30 cm to over one and a half metres in height. The succulent stems can have different thicknesses and forms, and the shape of the leaves is also extremely variable.
Species such as S. macroglossus can be reminiscent of an ivy with slightly more fleshy leaves, while other species such as S. stapeliformis, with its ribbed stems, is almost reminiscent of a small cactus with a particularly fine trunk: it has also a crested form.

Flowering occurs usually in Autumn.

The fruits are always achenes (dry fruits with a hardened outer part which look like seeds) surmounted by a tuft of white hairs.

VARIETY AND TYPES

Here below we list the main succulent species of Senecio.

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  • S. angulatus
  • S. anteuphorbium
  • S. articulatus
  • S. barbetonicus
  • S. cephalophorus
  • S. citriformis
  • S. crassissimus
  • S. cuneatus
  • S. cylindricus
  • S. deflersii
  • S. fulgens
  • S. galpinii
  • S. haworthii
  • S. herreanus
  • S. kleinia
  • S. longiflorus
  • S. macroglossus
  • S. mandraliscae
  • S. oxyriifolius
  • S. pendulus
  • S. pinguifolius
  • S. pyramidatus
  • S. radicans
  • S. rowleyanus
  • S. scaposus
  • S. sempervivus ssp. grantii
  • S. serpens
  • S. stapeliiformis
  • S. tropaeolifolius

TIPS FOR GROWING

Senecios are tough plants and need very little attention. Here are a few tips for growing them.

  • They usually appreciate direct sunlight.
  • Some species don’t tolerate temperatures below 10°C, and others that can withstand temperatures even below zero: it depends on the species.
  • In general, scarce watering is recommended.
  • The needs are different depending on the species. In general, non-acidic, quite fertile and very draining soil is recommended.
  • They usually appreciate poor soils, but check out the needs of each species!
  • Repotting needs depend on the species.
  • Branch or leaf cuttings are the most common way of propagation of Senecios.

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