Killing with Kindness

Recently, in the Mt Gibraltar Reserve, protectors of the native environment were distressed to see that a well-meaning soul has mistakenly pulled out a whole spread of the native daisy, Senecio lautus . The mistake almost certainly came about because this Senecio species is very similar in appearance to the rapid spreader, Fire Weed – Senecio madagascariensis.

Let’s define the differences so that the mistake can be avoided in the future. The more of us can pick the difference, the less likely it is that we will lose more native plants.

The height and the flowers of the two plants is roughly similar – too similar to be helpful in identification by amateurs. Both plants grow to about 30cms and cover themselves with bright yellow daisy flowers.

For a quick ident, the thing to look at is the leaves and these are quite distinct.

 

Fire Weed, Senecio madagascariensis

Fire Weed, Senecio madagascariensis

The leaf of this plant is ‘entire’ a lance shaped leaf with tiny serrations, but no little finger-like protrusions coming from the edges. The important bit to look at is the place where the leaf comes off the stem. It has a habit of curling around the stem where the leaf joins the stem.

Native Daisy, Senecio lautus

Pictures of the native Senecio lautus show a complex leaf with little ‘fingers’ coming off a central rib.
It is unlike the leaf of fire weed.

Compare the two plants below

Please don’t pull out any plants in a reserve unless you are trained.

If you would like to know more about the Council Bushcare program, or join a group please click here.

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