Common Groundsel

Common GroundselThis large family (Asteraceae), commonly called the Aster Family, consists of 1,314 genera and 21,000 species of herbs, shrubs, climbers and a few trees is found chiefly in temperate and subtropical regions.  The plants are of value to man as ornamentals; a few are insecticides and fish poisons. The name Groundsel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon “groundewelge”, meaning “ground swallower” and referring to the rapid way the weed spreads.  In Scotland and the north of England it is still called Grundy Swallow.  The name “Birdseed” was used because the seeds are fed to caged birds. Although Groundsel contains alkaloids that are potentially hepatotoxic, there have been no reports of death due to Common Groundsel poisoning in the United States.  Groundsel however,  contributed to severe loss of life in livestock in the Western United States.  Groundsel poisoning of humans is important in Africa where seeds of the plant occur as contaminants in grain crops.  There it is called bread poisoning. Native Americans named the plant Squaw Weed because it was used as a remedy for “female complaints” and an ointment for wounds and to stop bleeding.

OtherCommonName:

Ragwort, Birdseed, Chickenweed, Fleawort, Grinsel, Pigflower

ScientificName:

Senecio vulgaris

Community:

Edge

PlantStatus:

Naturalized. Native of Europe

LifeSpan:

Annual

PlantHeight:

4 to 16 inches

FruitingTime:

Late May to late September

Distribution:

Throughout North America ~ Statewide in NJ

FloweringTime:

Early May to late September

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Leaves are pinnate and irregularly toothed,  Small yellow flower goes to seed with a downy head like the dandelion.  Taproot