Trees

Ragwort (Senecio vulgaris)

The Senecio vulgaris is a shrub that grows very little, approximately 40 centimeters tall and showy flowers are yellowish. It is usually found on roadsides and in cool crops and with a temperate climate, being easily found throughout the Spanish territory.

Pay close attention because in the following paragraphs we will give you all the details about this wonderful plant. Let’s go for it!

characteristics

Its main quality is that it is poisonous, so we must be very careful when we come into contact with it. It can grow in different places and depending on the characteristics of the soil, it has the possibility of growing more or less centimeters, although the differences are not usually very great.

This shrub has alternate leaves on both the top and bottom of the plant and also has numerous flowers that are distributed throughout the structure of the species. The Senecio gives some fruits called achenes, which have a subcylindrical shape and having just about three millimeters long. They are brown with red or green flashes, depending on the time of year.

Although today it can live in many parts of the world, it needs temperate climates and temperatures that do not exceed 20 ° C. For this reason, in Spain we always see it on the edges of roads and near mountainous terrain. These areas have a special climate for them, however they have managed to grow in quite hot territories of South America and Africa.

It probably came to North America mixed with grain brought in by European settlers. The origin of the common name is a derivation of the Anglo-Saxon terrestrial culture, which means “earth swallow”, which refers to the speed with which the weed spreads. It is a fairly inconspicuous little plant that is easily overlooked. It tends to be locally common, but is absent or uncommon in other areas. Planting this shrub in common soil is not very viable, as the flowers never fully open.

The seedlings have long, narrow cotyledons with smooth margins, but the true leaves are lobed. The leaves are alternate and the margins vary considerably from irregular thick teeth to divided pinnate with irregular lobes. It has hollow and slightly fleshy stems, often purple (especially at the base), and produces a superficial fibrous root system, secondary and secondary root.

This plant produces numerous yellow flowers in terminal clusters. The small flower heads look a bit like a dandelion that never opens as the bracts wrap the compound flower heads in a series of narrow scales. The involucre is green with a black tip and the yellow flowers without rays (without “petals”) protrude from the end of the cylindrical structure.

The flowers are pollinated by insects and the plants are  self-fertile. The mature seeds have a fluffy white tuft of cottony material at one end (the pappus) that allows them to float in the air for long-distance wind dispersal.

Origin

This plant is native to the entire European continent and has spread to various African and Asian regions. It likes temperate zones, however it is widely known that it has reached many places with tropical climates such as South America and Africa, however it is very limited specimens. There will always be more of these plants in more humid places and with a lower and more pleasant climate for their characteristics. Many studies have shown that in different sectors of Mexico they have also been found, we speak especially of Baja California, Aguascalientes, Nuevo León, Puebla, etc.

Care

Taking into account all the details that we have given you in the article, it may be advisable to have a plant of these characteristics in your garden or home, of course, provided that care is taken to remove the leaves and branches that grow excessively and leaving the best of this shrub, which are its flowers.

Medicinal properties

This species is widely used to accelerate the menstruation process in women. It can also soothe the sharp pains that happen during this process. One thing is important and that is that it must be consumed with great care, since ingesting it in excess can cause cirrhosis.

Senecio vulgaris cultivation

The seed is the way this plant multiplies and the wind is its main ally. For this to happen, it is necessary for the climate to play in its favor and it is that in order to germinate it is necessary that it does not exceed 25 °, however we can say that between 8 and 12 ° is the ideal. There are places where germination has been seen in a range of 20 °, but everything will depend on the characteristics of the area and the soil.

The truth is that it is a plant that is considered a weed in many regions of the world, causing serious damage to plantations of corn, vegetables, carrots, apple trees, etc. In the territories where these fruits are planted, they are constantly vigilant so that this shrub does not develop, since otherwise it would put the entire planting at great risk. Given all this, a series of mechanisms have been devised to protect the crops of this plant that is so dangerous. Sometimes they opt for plastic padding, which prevents the border between the two floors from crossing. Crop intercropping is another solution that many farmers have tried and that has paid off.

Although it prefers moist, loamy and fertile soils, it will grow on sandy or clay soils and on infertile soils, but it does not grow in the shade. It has a very short life cycle and can grow from seed to mature seed-producing plant in as little as 5 weeks. Plants can bloom from early spring to late fall and people bloom for about 3 to 4 weeks. A single plant can produce a million other plants in a year if it is allowed to produce seeds.

When the plant is uprooted or cut, the seeds of the open flowers can still mature and germinate, so it is best to remove the plants before they bloom and as the seeds are generally only viable for about a year, you should remove the plants before you go to sow, otherwise it will have a dramatic impact on your harvest, as we have already indicated.

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