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Products > Senecio decaryi
Senecio decaryi - Madagascar Senecio
Image of Senecio decaryi
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflowers)
Origin: Africa, East (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Orange
Bloomtime: Summer
Synonyms: [S. amaniensis, Hort.]
Height: 4-5 feet
Width: 4-5 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
Senecio decaryi (Madagascar Senecio) - A upright growing shrubby succulent to 4 to 5 feet tall by at least as wide with fleshy roots and branching ornately marked stems bearing oblanceolate 4 inch long blue-green spoon like leaves that have crimson colored venation and margins when first emerging. In summer on into fall this shrub is topped with a terminal 6- to 8-inch-long branching inflorescence of bright yellow ray flowers and orange yellow disk flowers that, atypical to many in the genus, have a light but sweet aroma.

Plant in full sun to light shade and irrigate occasionally to infrequently. We are not sure on the ultimate hardiness of this plant, though it has never been damaged at our nursery in the years we have grown it, going unscathed during our January 2007 freeze with 3 nights of short-term temperatures down to 25°F and likewise was not damaged in inland north county San Diego gardens during the same freeze with temperatures that were slightly less.

Senecio decaryi grows naturally on rock outcrops in the south-central part of Madagascar. The name for the genus comes from the Latin word 'senex' meaning "old" or "old man" in reference to its downy head of seeds and the specific epithet honors French botanist and ethnologist Raymond Decary (1891-1973). Decary traveled widely throughout Madagascar from 1916 until the beginning of World War II. He reportedly collected 19,700 different specimens, including plants, mosses and reptiles, many of which went to the Paris herbarium at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle and he authored such iconic Aloe suzannae, Aloe swynnertonii and Aloe vaotsanda.

The Senecio decaryi currently circulating in the nursery is plant that was first collected by Myron Kimnach in 1998 from the palace garden of the King of Morocco in Tan-Tan in southwestern Morocco. It was originally mistakenly distributed by the Huntington Botanic Garden as Senecio amaniensis, a plant that is native to the tropical forested Amani region in the Usambara Mountains of Tanzania. We grew it under this incorrect name until 2010 when John Trager, the Huntington Botanic Garden's succulent garden curator, noted that this plant was actually the Malagasy species Senecio decaryi, a plant that comes from Madagascar. The true Senecio amaniensis, which we also now grow, has longer, thinner, and softer less prominently veined leaves and orange ray-less flowers that have a slight fetid aroma. Unfortunately, many nurseries continue to list Senecio decaryi incorrectly as Senecio amaniensis. 

This information about Senecio decaryi displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.