Senecio jacobsenii (Trailing Jade) - A succulent creeping groundcover with thick succulent stems that root along the ground with green fleshy 2-3-inch-long egg-shaped leaves that overlap like shingles along the thick stems and blush an interesting purple color in winter. Never in great profusion, or with much regularity, appear the bright orange rayless composite flowers, but when they do appear it is usually in fall or winter. The flowers have that rich cheesey smell that is typical of many species of Senecio - though not really that pleasant, it is not that strong and less malodorous than some other Senecio. If planted next to a wall, or in a container, the stems drape downwards as much as 4 feet. Uniquely, the leaves and the flower stand upright from the stems.
Plant in full sun to light shade and give occasional water. Hardy to 20°F (some say as low as 15°F). Makes a interesting and attractive groundcover, hanging basket or window box specimen. It is a fairly easy plant to grow but resents shady cool moist conditions. In Gordon Rowley's Succulent Compositae he notes (quoting Peter Baily) that "in view of its spreading habit and its high resistance to drought [it] can be recommended for binding soil on steep banks." though Rowley also observed himself that "in succulent collections it is suitable for hanging baskets, but is rather shy blooming."
Senecio jacobsenii comes from the highlands of Tanganyika, Kenya and Tanzania and was originally described in 1909 by German botanist Reinhold (Reno) Conrad Muschler (1883-1957) as Senecio petraeus but the name, determined illegitimate by Klas Robert Elias Fries, was changed in 1928 to Notonia petraea. In 1955 Gordon D. Rowley renamed this plant in honor of Hermann Johannes Heinrich Jacobsen (1898-1978), a German horticulturist and botanist who specialized in succulent plants. This plant has also been called Kleinia petraea and Notoniopsis petraea and the correct name is still in debate today but current nomenclatural databases list it as Kleinia petraea. Because it has long been in the trade under the name Senecio jacobsenii we continue to list this species, as well as most other of the succulent plants once called Senecio, still under this older name for convenience and so not to confuse our customers or our staff.
Information about Senecio jacobsenii displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.