Senecio viscosus (Sticky Ragwort)

Plant Info
Also known as: Sticky Groundsel
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:annual
  • Weedy
Habitat:sun; disturbed soil; waste places, roadsides, railroads, rocky shores and headlands
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:6 to 24 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers and phyllaries] Flower clusters are open and branching, appearing as single flowers at branch tips and upper leaf axils, often few opened at any given time. The flower heads are yellow, long stalked, ¼ to 1/3 inch across, the center disk bright yellow surrounded by 11 to 20 ray flowers (petals). The barrel-shaped base cupping the flower head is formed from 13 to 21 linear bracts (phyllaries), green with obscurely reddish tips, the surfaces densely glandular hairy. Flowers develop continuously over the season, a plant typically displaying a mix of new flowers, mature and spent seedheads.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are simple and alternate, oblong or nearly spatulate in outline, 1 to 4½ inches long, 1/3 to 2 inches wide, deeply pinnately lobed, the primary lobes shallowly lobed or with large, coarse teeth. Lower leaves are largest and stalked, becoming smaller and stalkless as they ascend the stem. Stems are heavily branched especially in the upper plant. Leaves and stems are densely glandular hairy throughout, sticky and strongly scented. 

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of fruit] Flowers become a dandelion-like plume of dark brown seeds (achenes), each with a tuft of white hairs (pappus) to carry it off in the wind.


Sticky Ragwort is a newcomer to Minnesota, first collected in 1994 near Duluth. Like too many non-natives introduced through that port, it thrives in the cool, rocky and sandy but moist soils along Lake Superior's north shore, and with a wind disseminated seed, has spread rapidly up the shore to Cook County. Also like other introductions, it can be expected to make its way both inland along roads in the Arrowhead and south towards the metro over the near coming years. It is similar to another weedy introduction, Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris), which has rayless flowers with longer phyllaries, and is not glandular.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Flood Bay State Wayside, Lake County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Cook and Lake counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Joe L - Brighton Beach, Lake Superior shore, Duluth
on: 2017-09-11 00:30:57

Came across this one today, excited at having found something new and quite lovely, then disappointed to learn that it is a recently introduced invasive. Please, though, can you tell me, what exactly is meant by the phrase "glandular hairy."

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-09-11 06:47:26

Joe, glandular = has glands, so there is a gland at the tip of a hair. The glands should be visible, especially when held up to the light. They hold a sticky fluid.

Posted by: gary - Duluth
on: 2020-09-07 18:26:05

If people want to see this plant a good place to go and look is Canal Park. It shows up here and there along the edges of parking lots and bare ground near buildings.

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