Perennial, often tufted. Stems: slender, woolly at the base and in the axils of the lower leaves. Leaves: basal ones slender-petioled, oblong, very obtuse, crenate; stem-leaves pinnatifid, sessile, small. Flowers: in corymbose many-flowered heads of both tubular and ray-flowers.
This is a very common plant in the mountains. It has bright yellow flowers, which when in seed resemble small thistles. The rich loose clusters of the Golden Ragwort grow to an average height of eighteen inches. The basal leaves have long stalks and are rounded or oblong, with scalloped edges, while the stem-leaves are long, narrow, and slender, and very deeply cut. The name Senecio is from senex, ' an old man," and refers to the hoary-headed appearance of the plant when in seed, which is supposed to resemble the silky while hair of the patriarch.
Different species of Ragworts are quite numerous at high altitudes. They all have yellow flowers of various hues, shading from primrose to amber and orange; but the Golden Ragwort is the most abundant of them all. It is principally by their widely diverse foliage that the Senecios must be distinguished.
So bright and gay are these flowers, and all their fellows of golden mean, that we are compelled to wonder what caused Wordsworth, gentlest of poets and truest of Nature lovers, to write: "Ill befall the yellow flowers, Children of the flaring hours."
What would the meadows be without the Dandelions, the Sunflowers, the Golden-rods, and the Arnicas? The land would lose much of its charm in Autumn did not these brilliant blossoms blazon back the beams of the declining sun.
Senecio triangularis, or Giant Ragwort, is a large coarse species with closely set flower-heads and numerous long triangular leaves, strongly veined, and sharply toothed at the edges.
Senecio canns, or Silvery Groundsel, is exactly described by its name, for it has white silky stems and leaves and pale yellow flowers. It is a small plant and grows on the dry open meadows. The basal leaves are oblong and have even margins, while the tiny stem-leaves are slightly toothed.
Senecio lugens, or Black-tipped Groundsel, is so called on account of the conspicuous little black tips distinguishing the bracts of its involucres, or green cups, which hold up the deep amber-coloured flowers. The basal leaves are very long and toothed; the upper leaves cling closely to the stem, and are small,' bract-like, and smooth.
Senecio pseudanreus, or Canada Ragwort, grows from one to two feet high from a creeping rootstock. The basal leaves are broadly ovate, somewhat cordate and serrate, and have long stalks, while the lower stem leaves are more or less lobed and the upper stem leaves are sessile. The rays are orange-yellow.
Senecio discoideus, or Northern Squaw-weed, is smooth except for small tufts of wool in the axils of the lower leaves. The stem is stout and the basal leaves are oval obtuse, thin, sharply toothed and abruptly narrowed into stalks longer than the blade; the stem leaves are few, small and more or less cut into narrow lobes. The flower heads grow in a loose flat-topped cluster and the rays are very short or none.
Senecio flavovirens, or Western Balsam Groundsel, is a slender pale yellow-green plant with tufts of wool at the base of the leaves, which are broadly oval, obtuse, crenate and taper into the stalks. The lower stem leaves are lanceolate in outline and the upper ones linear sessile and deeply pinnatifid. The flower heads have linear acute bracts with brownish tips and the rays are pale yellow or often lacking.