Tag Archives: Senecio glastifolius

Senecio glastifolius

I posted this photo Mitch took back in April 2010 under the title “Unidentified Giant Composite.”


Garden designer Kelly Kilpatrick (Floradora Garden Design) helpfully provided its true name.
Annie’s Annuals & Perennials has been an off-and-on source for this giant South African daisy rarely offered elsewhere in the trade.

San Francisco Botanical Garden discusses this daisy’s provenance:

“At the tip of South Africa where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, lies the floral kingdom of the Cape Province, a tiny area of land with a dazzling assortment of endemic plants (plants found nowhere else), twice as many as are found in California! The Cape’s Mediterranean climate, mild and wet winters, dry and hot summers, helps promote this marvelous diversity, together with the Province’s isolated position at the end of the continent.

Senecio glastifolius grows in a narrow stretch along the south coast, and also appears in the fynbos, areas of evergreen shrubs of varying sizes and varieties in company with proteas, heather and restios. It is a tall, semi-woody perennial with a single layer of brilliant lavender petaled ray florets surrounding a central disk of golden florets. Its leaves are lance-shaped and coarsely toothed. It grows densely to three feet or higher. In Afrikaans, it is called, “Waterdissel” (water thistle) for its water-loving habits and thistly leaves.”

Usually a display of daisies this tall and wide comes only in fall, from other members in the asteraceae family, like the New England asters. {I won’t mention any species names because they will have changed again by the time I post this.) So a sight like this in April is quite extraordinary. Plus, I like the fact that those of us in zone 9 and 10 have a big daisy to call our own. SF Botanical Garden does reference the unwanted spread of this daisy in Australia and New Zealand “if it finds water.” So just in case, I’d be careful about planting it where it might spread into native plant communities. But if you are one of the lucky ones with a garden of a size to accommodate a shrubby daisy big enough to hide a Buick, Annie’s Annuals & Perennials is offering it right now.
I’d love to try it in one of my stock tanks and pinch it back mercilessly.

Unidentified Giant Composite

If you saw 8-foot tall daisies planted to the very edges of the geometric template that usually holds a suburban front yard lawn, in an upscale community in San Francisco, wouldn’t you assume the owners of the house were a friendly sort, happy to answer knocks on the door inquiring about their forest of unidentified daisies? If so, like me, you’d be wrong. Gardeners see the world through chlorophyll-tinted glasses and can often make such erroneous assumptions.


These towering daisies with small, tough, leathery leaves were seen in the Glen Park neighborhood of San Francisco on March 24, 2010. The leaves were very stiff, almost succulent-like.


Across the street from the daisy forest house, a friendly gentleman tending an apple tree wanted to show me the tibouchina he just planted, and we chatted for a few moments. He said his friend, the owner of the daisy house, would love to hear from us, to go ahead and knock, which we did. It was difficult to politely excuse myself from this garrulous fellow, which seemed a positive indicator for a friendly reception at the daisy house. But it probably just wasn’t a good time for them. No ID was given, but they wouldn’t mind if we took some photos.


After this brief exchange held from a narrow crack in the doorway, the daisy house did send out a young male to the gate where the driveway meets the house, to watch us photograph the daisies, which I hadn’t noticed until the back of my neck started burning from the glare. I tried chatting him up, too, asking if he knew what kind of daisies they had allowed to fill with such ebullient profusion the entire front yard. “Nope,” was the one-word response. Not very chatty today, I guess. Perhaps they’re just fatigued by endless inquiries over the daisies. Attempting the horticultural equivalent of The Sartorialist was not as easy as I thought. Of course, any time there’s a door involved, the dynamics are much different. Out in the city versus at home in your sanctuary plays into it as well.


But at the end of the street was this lovely planting, with cobalt blue Lithodora diffusa and yucca in the foreground, leucadendron and ceanothus in the back. Only in San Francisco would lithodora look as happy as lobelia, or maybe lithodora just can’t take the alkalinity of SoCal soils. A successful Hortorialist entry. (That just sounds wrong.)


We headed back to our rooms at the Elements Hotel in the Mission district of San Francisco, really a hostel, no frills, but clean and a great (cheap) base of operations, then walked to Regalito for a wonderful meal (Tamales de Puerco for me). Just some tips for travelers to next year’s garden show.

(Edited 4/3/10 to thank Kelly/Floradora for kindly providing the identification of Senecio glastifolius to the UGC.)