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Electronic Flora of South Australia
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Electronic Flora of South Australia species Fact Sheet

Family: Compositae
Senecio lautus

Citation: Forster f. ex Willd., Sp. Pl. 3:1981 (1803), sensu lato.

Synonymy: Not Applicable

Common name: Variable groundsel, fireweed.

Herb or subshrub, erect or sprawling, little- or much-branched, 10-80 cm high; leaves extremely variable, linear, narrowly lanceolate, pinnatifid or pinnatisect, 1-7 cm long, in some forms very fleshy and nearly terete, entire, toothed or lobed; mid-stem leaves often clasping.

Inflorescence a loose terminal corymb or corymbose panicle of usually 10-25 capitula, peduncles 0.5-3 cm long; involucre campanulate, 4.5-6 x 4-5 mm; bracts 12-21; calyculus of 6-11 lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate usually black-tipped bracteoles; ray florets 5-8, rarely 12 or 14; ligules 8-12 x 2-3 mm, widely spreading at first, then more or less rolled; disk florets 55-80.

Achenes subcylindrical, c. 2.5-3 mm long, red-brown, grey or olive-green, pilose, rarely subglabrous; pappus dimorphic, deciduous.

Published illustration: Cunningham et al. (1982) Plants of western New South Wales, p. 676.

Distribution:  In its several forms nearly ubiquitous, in a diversity of habitats from salt-sprayed coastal dunes to forest.

  W.Aust.; N.T.; Qld; N.S.W.; Vic.; Tas.

Conservation status: native

Flowering time: mainly Sept. — Feb.

SA Distribution Map based
on current data relating to
specimens held in the
State Herbarium of South Australia

Biology: No text

Taxonomic notes: This species complex well deserves its common name. The present authors are not satisfied with previous taxonomic treatments of this group. The 4 subspecies listed in some floras are not clearly defined, and require re-examination by conventional taxonomic methods. Examination of a limited set of specimens from New Zealand, the type locality of S. lautus, has suggested that the complex is even more variable there than indicated by the treatment of Ornduff (1960) Trans. & Proc. R. Soc. New Zealand 88:63-77. Comparison of these specimens with a much larger number of specimens from across Australia, however, has failed to date to reveal reliable criteria by which to determine whether or not the New Zealand and Australian specimens are conspecific. Black's var. pilosus is known only from the holotype and isotype from Franklin Island, and one collection from Flinders Island. It is unmatched by any other Australian specimens yet seen in its dense pubescence of crisped multicellular hairs over all parts except the capitula. A number of specimens determined as S. lautus from New Zealand, however, closely approach Black's specimen in pubescence.

Author: Not yet available

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