San Marcos GrowersSan Marcos Growers
New User?
Wholesale Login
Enter Password
Home Products Purchase Gardens About Us Resources Contact Us
 Web Site Search
Plant Database
Search by Plant Name
  General Plant Info
Search for any word
  Advanced Search >>
Search by size, origins,
color, cultural needs, etc.
Site Map
Retail Locator
Plant Listings

PLANT TYPE
PLANT GEOGRAPHY
PLANT INDEX
ALL PLANT LIST
PLANT IMAGE INDEX
PLANT INTROS
SPECIALTY CROPS
NEW  2019 PLANTS
PRIME LIST>
  for JULY


 Weather Station

 
Products > Senecio praecox
 
Senecio praecox - Broomstick Tree
   

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflowers)
Origin: Mexico (North America)
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring
Synonyms: [Pittocaulon praecox, Cineraria praecox]
Height: 10-16 feet
Width: 4-6 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
Senecio praecox (Broomstick Tree) - An unusual looking upright deciduous shrub or small tree to 15 feet tall with thick smooth grey-brown stems that bear, crowded at their tips, 3-4 inch long by 2 inch wide bright green slightly 3 lobed leaves. In the spring prior to the new leaves emerging appear clusters (corymbs) of small bright yellow daisy flowers. Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil. Tolerant of fairly dry conditions in summer months though this is its growing season so will grow better with occasional summer irrigation. We believe this plant hardy to around 25 F as it has withstood short duration freezes to this low in several Goleta, California gardens. After flowering two to four new branches appear at the point on the stem of the inflorescence, creating the unusual and gawky looking form that seems better suited to a Doctor Seuss book than real life. These stems, often showing scars from the leaf bases, consist of a thick water storing pith that expands when water is abundant and shrink as the stored water is used through the dry season. This pith is surrounded by a thin cylinder of xylem which is in turn surrounded by a thick, water-storing bark. This plant was long been in cultivation as Senecio praecox. In Gordon Rowley's “Succulent Compositae” he notes that this plant was in cultivated as early as 1829 by the Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle who is credited with naming the plant. in 1973 there was nomenclatural work that removed this plant from the huge Senecio genus (Brettell, R D; Robinson, Harold Ernest, "Studies in the Senecioneae (Asteraceae). I. A new genus, Pittocaulon" Phytologia V. 26 pg 451—453, 1973) and this plant became a species of Pittocaulon, a genus with five species that come from the drier areas of central and southern Mexico and when we listed this plant in our 2009 catalog we used the name Pittocaulon praecox. Most current nomenclatural databases however have gone back to the original name of Senecio praecox and so we have followed this treatment. The name Senecio comes from the Latin word 'senex' meaning "old" or "old man" in reference to its downy head of seeds and Pittocaulon is in reference to the pitch (pitto) that is evident on the stems (caulon). The specific epithet means "very early", "earlier" or "premature" in reference to the flowers coming out before the leaves. The long bare branches without their leaves can look a bit like a broomstick, giving the plant the common name of broomstick tree, though the common names in Mexico are 'palo loco' (crazy tree) or 'palo bolo' (silly tree) because this plants odd structure and flowering that occurs at the end of the dry season in habitat, well before other associated plants. Our thanks go out to our friend John Bleck who has continually supplied cutting wood as we worked to determine how to root this unusual plant.  The information on this page is based on our library and online research, as well as from observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery, in the nursery's garden and in other gardens that we have visited. We have also incorporated comments received from others, and always appreciate getting feedback of any kind from those who have some additional information, particularly if this information is contrary to what we have written or includes additional cultural tips that would aid others in growing Senecio praecox.
 
  [MORE INFO]