Senecio haworthii

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Botanical Name
Senecio haworthii
Asteraceae - The daisy family.
sen-ek-ee-o hay-WOR-thee-eye
Common Name(s)
English: Woolly Senecio; Cocoon Plant
Afrikaans: Tontelbossie
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
  • 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.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
Specific Information

Senecio haworthii is a most attractive perennial succulent dwarf shrub, the 2 cm long cylindrical leaves being thickly covered with bright silvery-white hairs. The leaves are closely packed together up the stems giving it a column-like aspect. In cultivation the stems may reach 25 cm in height but are smaller in the veld due to the harsh conditions of their natural habitat. The thick hairy covering is an adaptation that allows the plant to survive in temperatures ranging from -6ºC up to, and even above, 40ºC, and is able to tolerate extreme periods of drought.

A reference made in SANBI's PlantZAfrica site in 2002 quotes this plant as being threatened in its natural habitat, and in the 2008 assessment in SANBI's Red List of South African Plants, Senecio haworthii is categorised as being of Least Concern. Hopefully this means that the community has recovered.

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multiple tiny flowers held together in a head much like a paintbrush, at the end of a slender, unbranched stem 8 to 10 cm long

  • Winter 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 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.
  • Pot Plant A plant that needs a protected environment on a patio or indoors.
  • 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.
Distribution and Habitat

endemic to the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape, found in a few localities in the area known as the Nama Karoo biome, on rocky slopes near mountains, in gravelly or stony soil

Planting Suggestions

Senecio Haworthii will survive in a variety of soils,but does best in sandy loam which must drain easily. It is happiest in full sun - shade and over watering will result in over-long, leggy stems with visible spaces between the leaves. This species is especially water shy and will rot if kept too wet. Water only when the soil is completely dry and reduce water to the merest dribble during the winter resting period. Plants are very easy to propagate by cuttings. Use healthy tip cuttings in early spring, allow the cut to dry for 2-3 days, and plant in coarse, sharp, river sand. Rooting will take place in a few weeks.

Medicinal Uses

The white coating on the leaves was peeled off and used for tinder, hence the Afrikaans name 'Tontelbos' meaning 'tinderbush'.

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