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Senecio madagascariensis : History , Distinguishing Features , Growth calender and its Control

Senecio madagascariensis is a flowering plant commonly known as Madagascar ragwort or fireweed. It is a genus Senecio plant that belongs to the daisy family Asteraceae.

This plant produces yellow flowers and it is native to the mountainous, rocky area. The plant generally grows in disturbed areas like roadsides, agricultural fields, open woodland, waste areas, and barren land.

This plant becomes famous due to its notoriety as an invasive weed spread in various parts of the world particularly in New Zealand and Australia. Due to its rapid spread characteristics, it is commonly known as fireweed.

Distinguishing Features of Fireweed Senecio madagascariensis

The fireweed Senecio Madagascariensis plant is characterized by its vertical stem which can grow from 10 cm to 60 cm depending on growing conditions.

Fireweed Senecio Madagascariensis produces bright yellow flowers on the vertical stem, each flower head contains various small florets. Flowers have 12-15 yellow color petals that are 5-15 cm long and flower bases are surrounded by a greenish bracket.

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Senecio madagascariensis
Fireweed Senecio madagascariensis flower
Senecio madagascariensis
Fireweed Senecio madagascariensis flowers
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Fireweed Senecio madagascariensis flowers

Senecio madagascariensis plant can have single or multiple stems from the base of the plant. Stem is further divided into sub-branches and can bear a large number of flower heads.

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Senecio madagascariensis
Senecio madagascariensis plants multiple stems along with a flower

It has stalkless leaves having different sizes. Usually, they are narrow and elongated in shape. Some plants have deeply lobed, toothed leaves.

Fireweed Senecio madagascariensis leaves
Fireweed Senecio madagascariensis flowers

Watch a video clips of Senecio madagascariensis for more visual about the plant .

History of Senecio madagascariensis

Despite its name, Madagascariensis is not native to Madagascariensis but it has originated from South Africa. Further, it was introduced to Madagascariensis and then it became an invasive weed in Australia.

Senecio madagascariensis plant first introduce to Madagascariensis in the late 1800s. it came unintentionally through agricultural seeds and soil.

Once it was introduced to Australia, Senecio madagascariensis rapidly spread throughout various regions, especially the eastern and southern parts of the country.

It spread very quickly. Especially in a place like a roadside, a barren garden, or a deserted place. Because of its rapidly spreading nature, it became an invasive weed.

Growth Calendar of Senecio madagascariensis

The journey starts in late spring when the days are getting long and the temperature begins to rise. When the soil warms up and moisture levels are just right is the best time to germination of Senecio madagascariensis seeds .

In the early summer, this plant rapidly grows as this plant thrives in warm weather. In late summer it produces multiple bright yellow flowers. The flower lasts for 5-10 days then it becomes a fluffy seed head.

As the seed head becomes mature, it releases its seed into winds spread across various locations. Seeds remain dormant waiting for a suitable condition for germination. The germination process starts in later spring.

Why Is Senecio Madagascariensis Such a Pesky Weed?

Fireweed is one of the worst weeds in Australia due to its invasive nature, potential to spread, and negative impact on the environment. It is a toxic plant if livestock overgraze, it can damage the liver of livestock

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It can cause a slowdown of the growth, illness, and poor conditioning of the cattle. This plant has pyrrolizidine alkaloids which can cause damage to the liver if livestock over graze it.

How does it spread?

A single plant of Senecio Madagascariensis can produce 10000 seeds every year. Seeds spread through the different areas via animals, wings, birds, and along with agricultural seeds.

This plant has shallow roots which allow the plant to fall on the ground with the small impact of wind. When this happens stem will sprout root wherever it remains touching the ground.

Senecio madagascariensis control

Controlling Senecio madagascariensis is a very difficult task, due to its invasive nature it spreads very fast. We can adopt some procedures to control this plant’s spread.

  • You can remove these plants by pulling or digging out individual plants. This process is very effective in small areas where other methods are not feasible. After pulling the plant dispose of it with proper care so that it does not further spread or you can burn the pulling or digging out the plant.
  • Allow livestock to graze where this plant growing rapidly but avoid overgrazing this plant, overgrazing on this plant can be toxic to livestock.
  • Several herbicides are available in the market to control Madagascar ragwort, the selection of herbicides depends on the surrounding vegetation and potential impact on the environment.
  • Apply the combination of various control methods together to prevent weed growth like manual removal + herbicides +grazing livestock etc.
  • Engage landowners, community groups, and other growers to take effective steps to control the spreading of Senecio Madagascariensis or fireweed.

What herbicide kills Fireweed Senecio madagascariensis

Triclopyr, glyphosate, picloram, 2,4-D, and dicamba are commonly used herbicides to control this weed. Senecio madagascariensis is a highly invasive weed, especially in grassland, roadsides, pasture, and Barron land.

There are no specific herbicides to control this weed. But you can apply above mentioned herbicides to control this weed.

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