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     See Senecio atratus for a discussion of the differences between Senecio, Ligularia, and Packera.

Senecio flaccidus

Senecio flaccidus

Senecio flaccidus

Senecio flaccidus

Senecio flaccidus (Thread-leaf Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Above: Hawkins Preserve, Cortez, September 2, 2016.
Left: Canyon de Chelly, June 10, 2004 and Ojito Wilderness, New Mexico, June 2, 2010.

Senecio flaccidus is common in late spring and early summer at low altitudes of the semi-desert in dry, sandy, rocky, open areas in Sagebrush and Pinyon/Juniper forests. Later in the summer and early fall it will be found in these same habitats at higher elevations of the semi-desert. 

The plant is typically shrub-like, about two feet wide and high.  Foliage and stems are often a conspicuous blue-green. The wiry stems arch outward and upward, the leaves are thin, and the bright flowers seem to float above the stems. 

Senecio flaccidus is often quite conspicuous because it often grows in very open areas, widely spaced from other plants.  

The first specimens of this plant came from Mexico in the early 1800s. Christian Lessing named and described the plant in 1830. "Senecio" is from the Latin, "senes", "old man", and refers to the pappus hairs, the tiny bristle, hair, or awn growth at the apex of the seeds in this and many other Asteraceae. "Flaccus", Latin for "flabby" or "hanging down" combines with ""idus", Latin "becoming" to give us a description of the plant as " "relaxed", "weak", or "soft", perhaps referring to the open, overall shape of the plant and/or to the relaxed, arching stems.

Senecio flaccidus

Senecio flaccidus

Senecio flaccidus (Thread-leaf Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Canyon de Chelly, June 10, 2004 and
Hawkins Preserve, Cortez, September 2, 2016.

Senecio flaccidus
Senecio flaccidus (Thread-leaf Ragwort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert. Shrublands, openings. Spring, summer, fall.
Hawkins Preserve, Cortez, September 2, 2016.

Senecio flaccidus presents an intricate mass of stems and leaves, most of which are covered with a mat of very fine white hairs, giving an overall blue-green cast to the plant. Occasionally, as the thicker stem in the middle of the photograph shows, stems or leaves can be nearly glabrous.

Some leaves are entire, but often leaves are cut into very fine segments up to several inches long.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Range map for Senecio flaccidus