Senecio medley-woodii is a bright yellow succulent daisy with silvery leaves which will add winter colour to any container or rock garden.
Senecio medley-woodii is a branched shrub up to 2 m tall with thick, succulent, white-felted stems. The leaves are white-felted, obovate (egg-shaped) with margins entire to coarsely and irregularly toothed. Flower heads are solitary or with up to four heads, about 15 mm in diameter. Ray florets, and disc florets are bright yellow. Flowering time: June to July.
Senecio medley-woodii is listed as LC (Least Concern) (Raimondo et al. in press), but is a KwaZulu-Natal near-endemic with low abundance and specialized habitat requirements.
Distribution and habitat
Senecio medley-woodii is found in scrubby growth on cliff edges above river gorges and on granite outcrops up to 600 m, from the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal to Swaziland in the north.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
Senecio is the largest genus of flowering plants, with ± 2 000 species globally, and 300 in South Africa. The name Senecio is derived from the Latin word senex, meaning old man, referring to the greyish white hairy pappus, which aids in seed dispersal. The species is named for John Medley Wood (1827–1915), a botanist and the first curator of the Natal Herbarium, who collected and published widely on the Natal flora.
Little information is available on pollinators of this plant, but most daisies have a unspecialized pollination system and are visited by many different insects.
Uses and cultural aspects
Although Senecio medley-woodii has a fairly limited natural distribution in southern Africa, this attractive yellow succulent daisy is widely grown internationally. With its drought-deciduous succulent leaves, it has been widely used by scientists to investigate plant-water relations during increasing drought. Hairy leaves are unusual among succulents and may affect spectral properties.
Growing Senecio medley-woodii
Senecio medley-woodii grows easily from seed or cuttings. As in the case of most daisies, sow seeds as soon as possible after harvesting or store at low temperature and humidity. Cleaning off the pappus or “parachute” helps the seeds to take up water. Sow the seeds in seedling mix and cover with a thin layer of fine mix.
Place stem cuttings in a very well-drained medium such as sand, and water lightly until rooted.
This succulent makes an excellent potplant, underplanted with haworthias and small crassulas, or can be planted in a succulent or rock garden with other plants such as Kleinia fulgens and Kalanchoe thyrsiflora.
References and further reading
- Hilliard, O.M. 1977. Compositae in Natal. University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg.
- Nichols, G. 2005. Growing rare plants, a practical handbook on propagating the treatened plants of southern Africa. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 36. SABONET, Pretoria.
- Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to the wild flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.
- Raimondo, D., Von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. & Manyama, P.A. (eds). In press. Red List of South African plants. Strelitzia.
- Scott-Shaw, C.R. 1999. Rare and threatened plants of KwaZulu-Natal and neighbouring regions. KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service, Pietermaritzburg.
KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden
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