Mystery Senecio

Asked September 18, 2020, 3:53 PM EDT

Hi, can you tell me what type of Senecio I've bought? The label only said "Senecio," the people at the garden center didn't know, and it doesn't seem to match any of the pictures I've found online. It almost looks like a "Vertical Leaf" Senecio, but as you can see, mine has somewhat toothed, slightly pointed leaves (and Vertical Leaf Senecio seems to have smooth, oval-ish paddle-shaped leaves). I'd love to know both its Latin and common names, if possible! Also, is it normal for this plant's lower leaves to lay sort of flat while the rest of the plant stands upright, or are its flattened leaves an indication of a problem? Thanks in advance for any information or advice on caring for this plant!

District of Columbia County District of Columbia

1 Response

We don't recognize it outright (this is a very large genus), we do see similar-looking plants online labeled as Senecio obovatus (in one case Senecio obvatus, though this is likely a misspelling). Confusingly, there is a locally native plant relative that used to be classified as a Senecio which is now named Packera obovata. (When it was a Senecio, it was Senecio obovatus.) If you do a web image search with "Senecio obovatus" as the latin name, include "succulent" in the search terms to bring up the right images (you'll still get both plants showing up). No common name seems associated with the succulent species.

It is both natural for some succulents to stretch-out from their basal rosette as they mature, but it can also be a sign of insufficient light triggering lanky growth. We are not familiar with the specifics of how this species grows, so this may simply be its more mature shape. Overall, it looks to be in good condition. As a general rule, give tropical (houseplant) succulents high light when indoors, such as in the sunniest window or supplemented with plant grow lights.