Senecio haworthii (Sweet) Sch.Bip.

Family: Asteraceae
Common names: tontelbossie (Afrik.); woolly senecio (Eng.)

Senecio haworthii


There are many forms of succulent senecios. Amongst the most beautiful is Senecio haworthii known from a few localities in the Little Karoo. The beautiful silver-white, cylindrical, succulent leaves are its crowning glory. The plant is considered threatened in its native habitat.

No one knows exactly when the plant was first discovered but it made its appearance in ornamental horticulture in 1795. The plant was originally described by esteemed plantsman-botanist, Adrian Haworth in 1803 as Cacalia tomentosa, the specific epithet tomentosa referring to the hairy, fleshy, cylindrical leaves. The name was later changed to Senecio haworthii in honour of Haworth.

Growing in the gardenThe plants attain heights of nearly 250 mm in cultivation, but are likely to be somewhat smaller in their natural environment. Flowers are bright yellow to butter yellow. The inflorescence (flower) is terminal, unbranched and 80-11 mm long.

The plants occur on rocky slopes near mountains in the Little Karoo. They are able to withstand extreme drought and tolerate a fair degree of cold (- 6ºC). Heat is not a problem either, the plants can comfortably tolerate temperatures of (+ 40ºC)

Growing Senecio haworthii

Senecio haworthii hardly ever produces viable seed, thus propagation by cuttings is the answer. In actual fact it is advisable to prune the plants back as they become very leggy and unsightly. Plants are very easy to propagate by asexual means (cuttings). Plump, healthy tip cuttings are the ideal material to use. The cuttings can be struck in coarse, sharp, river sand. Take cuttings at the onset of spring. The plants will root under ideal conditions in a matter of weeks. S. haworthii is opportunistic and will survive in a variety of soils, but does best in sandy loams.

Senecio haworthii is an ideal container plant. Use natural terra cotta (clay) pots to really show this plant off to its full beauty. It is a water wise plant and can be planted in the garden or a rockery.

Reference

ROWLEY, G.D. 1994. Succulent Compositae. Strawberry Press, California.

Ian B. Oliver
Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden
August, 2002


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