Wildflowers, Plants and Ferns, Pacific Northwest
Arrow Leaved Groundsel is a lush leafy perennial that can grow up to 1.5 meters tall. You will usually find it growing in damp to very wet open sites. It grows from 300 meters to alpine locations here on the south coast.
The leaves are shaped like arrow heads, hence the name, they are numerous and cover the stem from the ground to the top. They are bigger along the middle area of the stem, they are saw toothed and quite coarse. The flowers are located at the top of the plant, they are yellow and have up to 8 rays the extend out if a flat topped flower that has a bright yellow to orange disc.
The Arrow Leaved Groundsel is also known as the old man flower and the Latin name Senecio means just that in translation. It is also called ragwort by some or spear head senecio by others. The name old man seems to be derived from one of two possible reasons. One is because the receptacle that the flowers are attached to is completed hairless, or bald. The other possible reason is that many of the family members have a type of grey hair that grows on the plants. Either one would give cause for the name “old Man”.
This plant contains poisonous alkaloids and should never be harvested as a food, on the lower areas of its range, it can show up in farmers fields, but animals avoid eating it and it does not seem to cause any problems, wild animals will always avoid eating this plant as it most likely has a bitter taste that burns the mouth.
This plant is quite pleasing to the eye though as you travel the high country and it will grow in large groups of yellow flowers.