Posts Tagged Groundsel

The Christmas (Wild)flower

The Christmas (Wild)flower . . .

Groundsel in bloom before Christmas. (photo taken 12 04 2013)

Groundsel in bloom before Christmas. (photo taken 12 04 2013)

December has, for me, been a busy month filled with moving (more on that story in a future update) as well as traditional holiday activities. That may explain why the theme of Christmas colored my principle wildflower encounter in recent weeks.

This season’s weather has been on average much colder than during the past few years. Most of New York City’s ruderal plants, annual and perennial, have consisted of brown stalks crowned by split seed pods. There was just one species of undomesticated flower consistently in bloom despite the cold. This is the Asteraceae immigrant, Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris).

While the lovely red Poinsettia and the waxy white Mistletoe are most identified with a traditional Christmas, I can’t help point out the evergreen quality of Groundel’s leaves, edged like a snowflake, and the tight golden bauble of its bloom. As far as the region’s established flora is concerned, Groundsel is, to me, the most authentic Christmas (wild)flower.

Christmas Star: Groundsel up close. (photo taken 12 04 2013)

Christmas Star: Groundsel up close. (photo taken 12 04 2013)

– rPs 12 30 2013

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More February Wildflowers

More February Wildflowers . . .

I thought I would take advantage of Leap Day 2012 to squeeze in one more post for the month of February. The past four weeks have remained damp and cool, rather than cold, making the green spaces of the West Village resemble tundra. The park grass is spongy, close cropped, yet green, and along the edges a variety of hardy wildflower species can be found, low to the ground, in bloom . . .

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

(photo taken 02 19 2012)

Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

Feral Croci (Crocus vernus)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

And, in my own courtyard, a few Common Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)

(photo taken 02 23 2012)

– rPs 02 29 2012

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Wildflowers of the Winter Solstice

Wildflowers of the Winter Solstice . . .

Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris, blooms in the West Village on the Winter Solstice and, though wild, often grows in evenly-spaced patterns as if planted by a gardener. (Photo taken 12 22 2011)


The 2011 Winter Solstice arrived like a lamb, to put it mildly. Manhattan enjoyed one of those calm, cool, balmy days that cultivate the impression of an indeterminate time of year; a kind of day that almost shouts for one to take the opportunity – the gift – to enjoy the outdoors before the traditional weather sets in, or roars in, for the season.

I listened to that call.

Outside and above, the sky resembled a portrait painting of multiple cloud types, including cirrus and cumulus, floating by at different levels of altitude, passing by at different rates of speed, forming a variety of picturesque motion patterns that took the sun in an exceptionally sparkling way during this shortest daytime of the calendar year.

Back on the surface, a short walk around the West Village revealed nature was still in an active phase. Gulls, mallard ducks, cormorants, brants, and Canada geese mingled along the Hudson River where several anglers squeezed in one last session of casting for striped bass.

Back on city land, many of the common wildflower species remained unfazed by last week’s first frost of the season. The basal rosettes of Sow Thistle, Dandelion, and Common Plantain were fresh and green, not deflated and gray as they were by this time last year. White Snakeroot, Common Chickweed, and Shepherd’s Purse remained in bloom in several sheltered spots.

Shepherd's Purse blooms beside a tree on a December day. (Photo taken 12 22 2011)

None of these plants could match the vigor and numbers of the winter annual Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris, a diminutive member of the Asteracaeae family. Just as the Dandelion will carpet lawns in spring, the Groundsel can proliferate in late fall. Find it thriving around the bases of trees and within the thinned out spaces of bare shrubs. Individual plants resemble a tiny evergreen bush and look so self contained as to appear planted by a gardener. The yellow inflorescences of this cosmopolitan ruderal never seem to open into full golden blooms like its springtime cousin, but it does go to seed in distinctive white balls that in combination with its sharply-lobed leaves look rather festive in light of the season.

Holiday Ornaments: Groundsel goes to fluffy seed like its other cousins in the Asteraceae family. (Photo taken 12 22 2011)

Happy Holidays . . .

– rPs 12 22 2011

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