Senecio’s are a group of plants that belong to the Daisy (Asteraceae) family. Locally one member of the family Senecio Jacobaea (Ragwort) is well known as a serious pest to landholders and its impact was one of the contributing reasons that many farms in the Strzelecki Ranges were abandoned. There are however a good number of Senecio’s that are native plants and are an important part of the local environment, particularly as colonisers of disturbed sites, and thus providing ground cover to reduce erosion and keep out introduced weeds.
Rough Fireweed (Senecio hispidulus) grows up to 1 metre tall and has green shiny leaves that have toothed lobes. They are covered in tiny hairs that make them feel a bit like sandpaper to touch. At the base of the leaves where they attach to the stem there are a pair of lobes with teeth (auricles). The underside of the leaves are covered in longer white hairs. Like all of the four species described in this post the flower heads are surrounded by green bracts, without any of the yellow ray florets that look like petals.
Hairy underside of a leaf.
Base of the leaves, where they attach to the stem with a toothed lobe (auricle) on either side.
Flowerhead surrounded by green bracts.
The common name relates to the rough textured lobed leaves.
Fluffy seedheads, ready to disperse in the wind.
Annual Fireweed (Senecio glomeratus) Annual Fireweed has some features in common with Rough Fireweed, it also has toothed lobes at the base of the leaves and the flowerbuds look similar. It is without the roughly textured leaves, it is usually covered in soft cobwebby type hairs.
Clusters of flower heads.
Underside of the leaves have a fine cottony texture.
Also has a pair of toothed lobes (auricles) where the leaves attach to the stem.
Slender Fireweed (Senecio tenuiflorus) as its common name suggests, Slender Fireweed is a more delicate looking plant. Its lower leaves are crowded with toothed margins, while the leaves further up the plant become narrower and more slender. The upper-side of the leaves are slightly cobwebby, while the back of the leaves are quite hairy, at the base of the plant they are usually purple.
Senecio tenuiflorus – Slender Fireweed
Where the leave connects to the stem, does not have the toothed lobes like the previous 2 species.
Flower heads are narrow and usually wider at the base.
Leaves towards the base of the plant.
Fluffy seed-heads ready to disperse.
Underside of the basal leaves, hairy and purple.
Cotton Fireweed (Senecio quadridentatus) – Cotton Fireweed often grows in the same locations as Slender Fireweed and is also quite slender. It is a widespread species and will come up in disturbed areas where little other native vegetation exists, it can withstand dry conditions. It is covered with dense cottony hairs, which can help with its identification, they give the plant its somewhat grey appearance.
Narrow clusters of flowerheads, also covered in grey cobwebby hairs.
When you are putting in the effort of planting you would naturally be intending that what you plant (as well as their descendents) will persist for many years. Research and experience have shown that there are many reasons why aiming to restore the original mix of species, that would have grown on the site prior to it being cleared is the best strategy. These plants are more likely to survive in the long term as they will be well adapted to the local soil and climate. The food and shelter that they provide will suit local wildlife and the risk of introducing plants that can become serious weeds will be minimised. eg. Cootamundra Wattle. Therefore it is an important part of any revegetation project to carefully select the species you with to plant.
In our focus area it is highly likely that the original vegetation of your planting site would be one of three vegetation types. Modelling of the landscape has been done across the region and tools have been produce to enable anyone to identify the what the likely original vegetation type or Ecological Vegetation Class (EVC) of any project site would have been. These tools are available online at sites such as http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/about-dse/interactive-maps or you can find this information by other means such as contacting the local Landcare Network or agencies such as the DSE. The following map shows a wide scale view of the original vegetation distribution for this area.
Once you have identified your EVC you can then download the corresponding list from the links below. These lists have been developed from local species records, to help you choose the most suitable species for re-vegetation on your site.
*Note that not all species listed are commercially available and/or not robust enough to be used in new plantings. But they have been included to provide more information about the original flora.