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Products > Senecio tomentosa
Senecio tomentosa - Woolly Senecio
Image of Senecio tomentosa
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflowers)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Infrequent
Synonyms: [Caputia tomentosa, S. haworthii]
Height: 1 foot
Width: 1-2 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30 F
Senecio tomentosa (Woolly Senecio) - A perennial succulent dwarf shrub to under 1 foot tall with stunningly attractive upright cylindrical succulent leaves that are pure white due to the fine white hairs covering all surfaces of the leaves. This plant is known to produce bright yellow flowers on a short terminal inflorescence, but we have only rarely seen this species flower in cultivation.

Plant in full sun in an open airy location with well-drained soil and water sparingly, allowing soil to dry between watering - it is an easy plant to rot if given too much water (particularly in winter) or in shade. Best not wet the foliage and should be kept drier in winter months. Cold hardy to at least 22 F. Probably one of the most beautiful of the succulent Senecio that can be grown in a well-drained soil or mounded planting or as a very attractive container plant - great in a terra cotta pot as this shows the foliage well and allows soil to dry. Senecio tomentosa is known from only a few localities in the rugged Little Karoo desert of South Africa between 3000-4000 feet in elevation, where it is considered to be threatened. Though discovered and circulating unnamed at least as early as 1795, this plant was originally described by Adrian Hardy Haworth (for whom the genus Haworthia is named) in his Miscellanea Naturalia: Sive Dissertattiones Variae Ad Historiam Naturalem Spectantes in 1803 from a plant he had received from his friend Benjamin Robertson, who had a private botanic garden at Stockwell in southwest London, England. Haworth placed this plant in the genus Cacalia (Latin for "plant" or "colt's foot") and gave it the specific epithet "tomentosa" for the white hairy leaves. When this plant was merged into Senecio by the German physician and botanist Carl Heinrich 'Bipontinus' Schultz in 1845 (the name Bipontinus being a Latinized reference to his birthplace to distinguish him from another German botanist of the same name) Schultz changed the specific epithet to "haworthii" in honor of Haworth.

The current treatment of this plant based on the DNA evidence shows it is only distantly related to Senecio and the species was reclassified in 2012 in an article by Bertil Nordenstam and Pieter Pelser titled "Caputia, a new genus to accommodate four succulent South African Senecioneae (Compositae) species" in Compositae Newsletter (V50: N59.). In this article the author created the new genus Caputia, making the current name of this plant Caputia tomentosa. The genus name is a reference to the four species in this new genus all coming from around the Cape Region of South Africa. Also joining it in this new genus are two other plants we have long grown as Senecio, Senecio medley-woodii and Senecio scaposus but we continue to list all of these plants as Senecio for convenience until such times as these names get better recognized. 

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