Characterised by its yellow daisies, the smooth ragwort (Senecio vaginatus) bears its flowers on leafy, yellowish-green stems, which are often hairless and sometimes branched towards the ends. The narrow, oblong-shaped leaves often have strongly rolled edges, and are typically shiny, or covered with a few cottony hairs. Furry white hairs usually cover the base of the upper leaves (2).
The smooth ragwort flowers primarily in the summer months, from November to February (2). Like other species in the Compositae family, the flowers are contained on a specialised head-like inflorescence called a ‘capitulum’. Despite looking like a single flower, each daisy is actually made up of many tiny, individual flowers, called ‘florets’, which are surrounded by larger outer petals (4). Each stem may have several of these composite flowers, each with a narrow base and overlapping petals (2).
Growing in rocky areas between sea level and 305 metres, the smooth ragwort is often associated with places where diddle-dee (Empetrum rubrum), tall fern (Blechnum cordatum) and tall grasses are present (2)(3).
As part of the native flora of the Falkland Islands, the smooth ragwort faces a range of threats. Historically, much of the Falklands' native flora was cleared for agriculture through grazing and burning, meaning that many native species now have restricted distributions across the islands. In addition, introduced and invasive species and increasing levels of tourism are placing further pressure on native species (4)(5).
The smooth ragwort will no doubt benefit from conservation programmes which are currently focusing on protecting the Falkland Islands' plant species and mitigating the threats to their survival (6). Falklands Conservation is working in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, on identifying important plant areas throughout the islands (7), while the Falklands Islands Plant Conservation Project, with assistance from Falklands Conservation, is developing a strategy for the long-term conservation of the islands’ threatened flora, with plans for sustainable land management and protection. Public education projects are also aiming to tackle human disturbances to natural environments (8).
ARKive is supported by OTEP, a joint programme of funding from the UK FCO and DFID which provides support to address priority environmental issues in the Overseas Territories, and Defra
Woods, R.W. (2000) Flowering Plants of the Falkland Islands. Falklands Conservation, The Falkland Islands.
Broughton, D.A. and McAdam, J.H. (2005) A checklist of the native vascular flora of the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas): new information on the species present, their ecology, status and distribution. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, 132: 115-148.
Heywood, V.H. (1978) Flowering Plants of the World. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Broughton, D.A. and McAdam, J.H. (2002) A red data list for the Falkland Island vascular flora. Oryx, 36: 279-287.
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