Family:
Asteraceae
Toxins:
pyrrolizidine alkaloids
Flower Color:
  • flower color
Type:
herb
Found:
coastal, upland, waste areas, gardens, roadsides, fields

Time of Greatest Risk

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Geographical Distribution

Groundsel distribution - United States

Related Species

Groundsel

Senecio vulgaris

Common Groundsel, Old-man-of-the-spring
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Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) is an erect herbaceous, winter annual that is considered an invasive weed in many regions. It starts to germinate in late autumn through early spring, matures throughout the spring and dies early summer due to the summer heat. When S. vulgaris first emerges, it the first couple leaves may have purple on the underside with shallow teeth, and are attached to the stem with a short petiole. As it matures, the leaves become more deeply lobed and attach directly to the stem. The leaves of the plant alternate on the stem and are usually hairless. S. vulgaris produces open clusters of small bright yellow, cylinder-shaped, rayless flowers that mature into a ball of white-tufted seeds. Flower clusters are surrounded by green bracts with black tips.

Toxic components
All parts of S. vulgaris contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can cause pyrrolizidine alkaloid toxicity in horses, if ingested over a period of time. Previous cases of poisonings usually occur due to the accidentally presence of S. vulgaris in the horses' hay. Symptoms don't begin to present until after damage occurs to the horse's liver, from chronic ingestion of the plant.