The Complex Variety and Uses of the Senecio Genus

515 WordsJan 31, 20182 Pages
Senecio is a huge genus in the family Asteracea, which in turn is one of the biggest families: meaning “Senecio is one of the most largest genus in the world with up to 3000 species found.” (Voss, 1985) Since then, phylogeny has separated many members of the Senecio genus and reclassified them as Packera. However, Packera spp. are still complex, so much so that Robert Kowal discovered a new species on Isle Royal in Michigan in 2011, and aptly named it Packera insulae-regalis. According to Kowal, “The populations that are currently grouped under the name Packera paupercula do represent a motley lot that should be split into a handful of species.” (personal communication, 8/1/2013) The plant P. paupercula, also known as Life Root or Balsam Ragwort, is a dwarf member of Alvar habitats reaching heights of two feet. The entire plant can be incredibly variable: basal leaves can range from medium to long petioled, and obovate to oblong or oblanceolate in shape. The margins are usually toothed with serrations that vary from lobed to pinnatified, and leaf apexes that are either blunt or tipped. Cauline leaves are individual to many, smaller, deeply serrated and partially to fully clasping the stem. P. paupercula is known for its pubescence, especially at the leaf axils. The golden inflorescence are capitate and more or less flat-topped. As summer comes into full swing, the petals can be seen falling off one by one until “poof” a pappus and achene are all that remains. The

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