Senecio scaposus

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Botanical Name
Senecio scaposus
Asteraceae - The daisy family.
sen-ek-ee-o ska-POH-sus
Common Name(s)
English: Woolly senecio
Afrikaans: Klein-tontelbos
USA: Silver Spider ; Silver coral
Plant Group
  • Succulent A plant having fleshy stems or leaves often adapted to dry conditions.
Plant Size
  • Small to Medium
    Tree8m to 15m
    Shrub75cm to 1m
    Perennial/ground cover20cm to 40cm
    Bulb30cm to 40cm
    Succulent20cm to 40cm
  • Light or Dappled Shade Found below trees with sparse, open foliage. Ideal for the protection of herbaceous plants.
  • Partial Shade The area is in shade for part of the day and in full sun for part of the day.
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Drought Tolerance: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • Frost: Half-hardy The plant is able to survive low temperatures and some frost but requires protection against severe frost.
  • Frost: Hardy The plant can withstand freezing temperatures or frost without artificial protection.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
Specific Information

Senecio scaposus is a short stemmed succulent shrublet which branches from the base to form a cluster of heads, which may grow close to the ground or with short, upright, cylindrical stems. The plant spreads to a width and height of up to 30 cm.

The cylindrical, inwardly curving leaves of 5-10 cm long, have pointed or blunt tips and grow in a tight rosette. In Senecio scaposus var. addoensis the tips are often spoon-shaped or lobed.  The young leaves have a white to silvery felted coating which may be shed as they get older. This felted covering is an adaptation to the dry conditions under which the plant grows and serves to reflect the sunlight, preventing over-heating or burning.

It is grown in Mediterranean-type gardens in Europe and California (USA) where frost is not severe.

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flower stalks are branched, 300 – 450 mm long, with 2 to 6 daisy-like yellow flowers up to 35 mm in diameter, on the end of thin stems

  • Spring to Summer Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • yellow
Growth Rate
  • Slow to Moderate Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Container Trees, shrubs and ornamental species that can adapt to growing in a restricted environment.
  • Edging A low growing plant that provides softness or definition to the edges of a bed or walkway.
  • Filler Either a fast growing tree or shrub used temporarily to fill in an area while the permanent plants grow to a desired size, or a plant used to fill gaps in borders or beds.
  • Foliage Plant Plants grown because their foliage is colorful or unique. Many of these plants have insignificant flowers.
  • Ground Cover Low-lying plants that spread fast, require minimal maintenance, and cover large expanses or bare areas between bulbs or shrubs. They provide protection from erosion and drought and improve the visual appearance of the garden.
  • Pot Plant A plant that needs a protected environment on a patio or indoors.
  • Retaining Walls Shallow rooted plants for cascading over dry stone walls or planting in hollow spots in retaining blocks.
  • Rock Garden An area constructed of larger rocks, arranged naturally, to emphasise the use of stones as a main element. Generally plants used do not need a lot of care.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat

Senecio scaposus var. scaposus: from the Little Karoo in the Western Cape to the Kei River in the Eastern Cape, on ledges of sandstone cliffs, on steep slopes of rocky hills, and along dry river valleys in Albany Thicket and Eastern Valley Bushveld biomes, in sandy, mineral poor and acidic soil.

Senecio scaposus var. addoensis: in the Eastern Cape, in the Addo Elephant National Park and near Port Elizabeth, in Albany Thicket where it is  widespread in its habitat but, due to its restricted distribution, degradation of the veld and urban expansion, has been classified as Endangered.

Planting Suggestions

Senecio scaposus prefers full sun or the light shade of woody sub-shrubs. When grown in overly shady conditions, the leaves become elongated and greener. Plant in well drained soil, preferably on a sunny slope or in a rockery. Water sparingly and allow the soil to dry between waterings. Keep dry as possible in winter, watering only to prevent the leaves from withering. In very well drained soil the plant can tolerate winter rains. It is reportedly hardy to -7°C, but at this low a temperature I am sure the plant would need the protection of overhanging vegetation.

Senecio scaposus is best propagated from stem cuttings which can be taken at any time of the year, with spring or summer being preferable. Allow the stem cuttings to dry out well for about two weeks before planting in well-drained sandy soil. Rooting should take place in 4 - 6 weeks, after which they can be planted out in the garden. Feed plants cautiously with an organic fertiliser if required - over feeding may result in weak, lanky growth.

Lorraine's Garden Notes

It was intriguing to note that the buds on my plant began to develop at the beginning of November (2014) and the first flower opened in mid-January (2015) - a time period of 9 - 10 weeks!


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Medicinal Uses

Not used medicinally.

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