Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Like many serious environmental weeds, Holly Leaved Senecio (Senecio glastifolius) was originally introduced as a garden plant.
  • Holly Leaved Senecio could be confused with Wild Cineraria (Senecio elegans).
  • It is a prolific seeder and its spread is promoted by fire.
  • It has already spread through significant areas of the natural environment near Albany, Western Australia.
  • Any new outbreaks should be reported to local councils or state or territory weed management agencies. Do not attempt control on your own.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Holly Leaved Senecio (Senecio glastifolius) is a member of the daisy family. It is a stout perennial, sometimes annual, with stems 1.0–1.5 m, occasionally to 2 m, tall. The stems, which may branch in older plants, can be 80 mm in diameter at the base of large plants.

All stems produce flowers on widely spaced branches. Leaves are approximately 1.5 times longer than wide and obovate (widest just above the leaf centre). They are serrated and often coarsely toothed near the leaf stalk and 100–150 mm long at the base of the plants, decreasing to 30-50 mm near the top of the stems, where they are less serrate. Flowerheads range from two to three per plant to several hundred. They are 3.0–5.5 mm long, are yellow in the centre, and are surrounded by mauve petals.

The seeds (achenes) are surmounted by a white, fluffy pappus of bristles (CRC 2003).

For further information and assistance with identification of Holly Leaved Senecio contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Holly Leaved Senecio favours open areas, such as open woodland, shrubland, hillsides, coastal dunes, roadsides and near waterways. In South Africa it grows on rocky hillsides, streambanks and marshy ground. It grows well in pastoral areas and is often abundant on old burn sites (Williams et al. 1999; CRC 2003).

Holly Leaved Senecio is particularly invasive in open damp areas, and has the ability to dominate understorey vegetation in these conditions (CRC 2003)

Are there similar species?

Holly Leaved Senecio can be confused with the weed species Senecio elegans (Wild Cineraria) at a distance, but up close the two plants are quite different. Wild Cineraria, also from South Africa, is a much softer plant with more succulent and hairy leaves and stems than Senecio glastifolius (Walt 2002).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Holly Leaved Senecio is on the Alert List for Environmental Weeds, a list of 28 non native plants that threaten biodiversity and cause other environmental damage. Although only in the early stages of establishment, these weeds have the potential to seriously degrade Australia's ecosystem.

Native ecosystems: The prolific seeding capability of Holly Leaved Senecio and its already proven invasiveness in Western Australia and New Zealand indicate that we need to be aware of this plant to prevent its further spread in Australia. It is currently posing a threat to the global biodiversity hotspots of the Stirling and Fitzgerald River National Parks in Western Australia (CRC 2003). Due to the lack of research into this species it is difficult to know what the specific impacts may be however it is already a serious environmental weed in New Zealand (Williams et al. 1999).

How does it spread?

The primary mechanism of spread of holly-leaved senecio is seed dispersal, but it is able to take root from fallen branches and vegetative material. Wind dispersal of the seed allows it to spread some distance from the original infestation, and seeds may remain viable in the soil for extended periods of time. Germination is promoted by fire. Fire followed by good rains has proved to substantially promote its spread throughout its current range in Western Australia. It is believed that slashing fire breaks or disturbing the soil in the vicinity of the plant or its seedbank also assists the spread of seeds (CRC 2003).

What is its history in Australia?

It is uncertain when the plant was introduced into Australia, but it was first recognised as naturalised in 1986 in the Albany district of Western Australia, where it is spreading into Banksia woodland and coastal shrubland.

Planted as an ornamental, its source was from a home garden adjacent to the Mt Adelaide and Mt Clarence nature reserve. Holly Leaved Senecio is now also found 20 km from the original infestation (Williams et al. 1999; CRC 2003).

Holly Leaved Senecio is also naturalised along some coastal areas of New Zealand (Williams et al. 1999).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Chemical and non-chemical control: Holly Leaved Senecio can be controlled using a combination of hand pulling and spraying. Annual follow up is important to control seedlings that have germinated from the soil seedbank, particularly after fire (CRC 2003).

Any new outbreaks should be reported immediately to your state or territory weed management agency or local council. Do not try to control Holly Leaved Senecio without their expert assistance. Control effort that is poorly performed or not followed up can actually help spread the weed and worsen the problem.

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au .

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Holly Leaved Senecio flowers in late spring. After the flower matures it leaves white fluffy balls of seed, which are apparent in summer and early autumn. The plant germinates in wetter conditions from early autumn through winter, and regrowth of existing plants occurs during the same seasons. Holly Leaved Senecio generally does not experience a period of dormancy, although in drought conditions it may not grow at all over summer (CRC 2003).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

In Australia, Holly Leaved Senecio now occurs throughout much of the 260 ha of Jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata), Blackbutt (Eucalyptus pilularis) and Marri (Corymbia haematoxylon) woodlands, and in Allocasuarina open woodlands within the City of Albany, Western Australia. The most affected area is the Mt Adelaide and Mt Clarence nature reserve, where the original infestation was found, but it is also common in the Mt Melville and Lower King reserves.

It was also recorded in 1991 and 1999 on the central coast of New South Wales, at Bundeena and is now considered naturalised in that region (CRC 2003; Weeds of Australia 2016).

Where does it originate?

Holly Leaved Senecio is native to a narrow coastal strip of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Even in its original range it has become a weed of disturbed sites and agricultural land. Holly Leaved Senecio has spread widely throughout New Zealand in the last 20 years (CRC 2003).

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 glastifolius

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Large Senecio, Pink Ragwort, Waterdissel

Other Management Resources

Blackberry – a community-driven approach in Victoria

Blackberry the weed (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) was first introduced to Australia by European settlers in the mid-1800s as a fruit. It was recognised as a weed by mid-1880s. Blackberry is a serious issue across Australia. It is estimated that blackberry infests approximately 8.8 million hectares of land at an estimated cost of $103 million in annual control and production losses.

Read Case Study