Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Originally native to South Africa, African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus) is a short-lived perennial herb to shrub 1-1.5 m high, with green leaves, and wings on stem, with yellow flowers.
  • An aggressive pioneer species that readily invades disturbed sites.
  • In natural ecosystems the African Daisy is strongly competitive, and can form dense thickets that exclude native species.
  • In agricultural areas, it can greatly reduce productivity rates.
  • Larger populations can be controlled by cultivation and grazing, slashing, and herbicide.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus) is an erect, tufted, perennial shrub 1-1.5 metres high, with several stems per plant, young stems usually white-cobwebbed, finally smooth without hairs, greyish-green and ribbed length-wise. The lower parts of the stems develop distinctive wings which extend down from the bases of the leaves. The leaves are unstacked or very shortly stalked, leathery, lanceolate (lance-shaped, about 4 times as long as broad, broadest in the lower half and tapering to the tip) to oblanceolate (lance-shaped, about 4 times as long as broad, broadest in the  upper-half and tapering to the base) 50–120 mm long, 3–20 mm wide, at least the lower ones usually with 2–8 forward-directed teeth, and the upper leaves are generally without teeth, margins often recurved. The upper leaf-surface is glossy-green often shining, and the lower leaf is white or grey with a cobweb like appearance.

The flower-heads (capitula) are bright yellow, daisy-like, with may flower-heads grouped in inflorescence (the group or arrangement of flowers on a plant) on stems at the top of the plant to about 100 – 200 mm across, in diameter, with about 40–200 flower heads per stem. Each flower-head is about 4.5 – 6  mm in diameter with up to about 108 yellow florets (flowers), including 8 to 13 ray florets on the outer edge bearing petal-like ligules 4–7 mm long. and the 40–95 disc inner florets, without a petal like structure. Surrounding the flowers are involucre bracts (small leaf like structures) that is cup-shaped 4.5–6 mm long, sparsely cobwebbed at base. There are 18–22, green bracts.

The fruits or 'seeds' (cypselas) are ribbed, 1.5–1.8 mm long, brown or reddish-brown, with minute hairs in rows which are pressed to the surface of the seed, and topped with a ring of slender, deciduous, white pappus hairs to 5 mm long (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992; Walsh & Entwisle 1999; Navie 2004).

For further information and assistance with identification of African Daisy contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)

Shrub or Herb

Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

In South Africa, African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus) grows in areas of moderate to high rainfall (500-1500 mm) (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992). In Spain, it forms dense infestations in riverbeds (Thorp & Wilson 1998 – ).

In Australia, it tolerates a wide range of soil types (VicFlora 2016; eFlora 2021). In Australia it often invades roadsides and railway lines, cleared paddocks, denuded grazing land, newly sown pastures, and native vegetation (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992; National Herbarium of Victoria 2007). It grows in a variety of situations from well-drained hillsides to semi-waterlogged areas (Faithfull 2007),

Native vegetation invaded by the African Daisy include lowland grassland, grassy-woodland, heathy-woodland and dry sclerophyll forest, usually following disturbance, particularly fire (Carr et al. 1992; National Herbarium of Victoria 2007; Stajsic 2007, pers. comm.).

Are there similar species?

Senecio is an enormous genus of about 1500 species throughout the world. In Australia, there are 97 representatives, 87 which are native and 10 that are introduced. Among the radiate (with petal-like flower segments) species, African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus) may be confused with Various varieties of Senecio linearifolius.

The following combination of characters will distinguish African Daisy from all other species in Australia:

Stems usually winged (not winged in S. linearifolius).

Leaves not clasping the stems, at least the lower leaves with several deeply incised forward-pointing teeth, glossy green on upper surface, and white woolly on lower surface (hairless in most varieties of S. linearifolius).

Flower heads are bell-shaped (cylindric in S. linearifolius), consisting of the outer, bright-yellow 'petals' of which there are 8-13 (4-8 in S. linearifolius), and the inner tubular 'petals' 4-7 mm long (Thompson 2004; Thompson 2006).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus) is an aggressive, pioneer species, which invades sites that have undergone some sort of disturbance such as clearing, soil degradation or fire (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992; National Herbarium of Victoria 2007). It can out-compete other plants and become dominant. A weed of disturbed sites occurring in native woodlands and grasslands, pastures, crops, unimproved land, denuded areas, roadsides, waste areas and forest margins in temperate and sub-tropical regions.

Agriculture: It contains toxic alkaloids but is rarely eaten by grazing livestock and competes aggressively with developing pastures and crops, often becoming dominant in the early years rendering infested lands unproductive ( Agriculture Victoria 2021). In agricultural areas heavy losses in productivity can result (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992). African Daisy contains the toxic alkaloids senecionine and seneciphylline but is apparently rarely eaten by grazing livestock (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992). No stock deaths have been reported in Australia. However during feeding tests in South Africa sheep suffered severe jaundice and died (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992).

Native ecosystems: African daisy is a strong competitor in natural environments and forms dense thickets that exclude native plant species, resulting in a reduction in habitat. In natural areas the plant is a strong competitor, forming dense thickets that exclude native species (Faithfull 2007). Grows vigorously on burnt areas, displacing native plants.

Urban areas: A weed of roadsides. Although a weed of disturbed sites, not normally a weed of urban areas or gardens.

How does it spread?

The seed of African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus) are adapted for spread by wind, but because the outer shell is shed easily most of the seeds fall close to the parent plant (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992). Most dispersal is by wind, water, animals and vehicles. However, some spread may also occur in contaminated soil and agricultural produce (Navie 2004).

What is its history in Australia?

African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus) is believed to have been introduced to South Australia in ship ballast at Port Lincoln in about 1930 (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992). From there it spread to the Adelaide Hills and occupied much of the southern Eyre Peninsula and south-east South Australia in areas with over 500 mm annual rainfall (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992).

The first record of the species in Victoria is from Coode Island in 1908, but it did not become invasive in Victoria until about 1972 and current infestations are believed to be a result of spread from South Australia (Walsh & Entwisle 1999; National Herbarium of Victoria 2007).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus) can be controlled by herbicides, physical and mechanical means with competition and best practice management.

Chemical control: Isolated plants can be spot sprayed before flowering (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992). Specialist application by high volume misting is effective on large infestations and steeper ground (Faithfull 2007). A number of herbicides provide good control in various situations. High volume misting is often used in difficult areas Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au 

Non-chemical control: Physical control: Isolated plants and small infestations can be physically hand pulled. Flowering heads should be removed to prevent the dissemination of seeds, and placed in plastic bags for disposal. Manually remove isolated plants and their roots to a depth of 200 mm but follow up may be required to remove subsequent years germinations , Larger plants should be cut close to ground level and the stem-bases painted with herbicide (Faithfull 2007).

Mechanical control: Larger populations can also be repeatedly slashed to minimise flowering and seeding (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992; Faithfull 2007).

Competition and management: In pasture situations, the area can be cultivated, followed by the establishment of a competitive pasture with a legume component.  Slash as necessary to allow pasture to establish. In areas unsuitable for cultivation, such as steep hillsides, seedlings can be heavily grazed by sheep or goats, neither of which has yet shown any ill effects in Australia (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992). However, if the site is overgrazed to create bare ground, this will favour the re-establishment of African Daisy seedlings (Faithfull 2007).

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Flowering of African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus) occurs from November through until autumn (VicFlora 2016). The seeds usually germinate with the early April and May rains. A mature plant produces about 50,000 seeds per annum and plants can live for as long as 7 to 10 years (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus) is naturalised in south-eastern South Australia, from the southern tip of Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, around Adelaide to the northern Adelaide hills to east past Murray Bridge and throughout Fleurieu Peninsula to the west end of the Coorong, Kangaroo Island, and in the lower  south-east near the Victoria border (AVH 2021).

In Victoria it occurs in scattered populations, from the South Australian border, east to Garfield in south-central part of the State and around Melbourne (AVH 2021).

In New South Wales it occurs in central-eastern New South Wales from Newcastle, south-west to the Blue Mountains (AVH 2021)

There is a single collection from the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ACT) in 1972 but it is not clear whether this represents a naturalisation or a casual introduction that did not persist.(Australian National Herbarium 2007; Lepschi pers. comm. 2007)

Where does it originate?

African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus) is native to South Africa (Parsons & Cuthbertson 1992; Thompson 2006).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Senecio pterophorus

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

  • Senecio pterophorus var. apterus Harv.
  • Senecio pterophorus var. verus Harv.
  • Senecio pterophorus DC. var. pterophorus

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Rough Senecio, Winged Groundsel

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