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Sticky Groundsel

Senecio viscosus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, Alpine Fleabane, Alpine Saw-wort, Annual Ragweed, Annual Sunflower, Argentine Fleabane, Autumn Hawkbit, Autumn Oxeye, Beaked Hawksbeard, Beggarticks, Bilbao Fleabane, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad-leaved Cudweed, Broad-leaved Ragwort, Brown Knapweed, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Cabbage Thistle, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Chamois Ragwort, Changing Michaelmas Daisy, Chicory, Chinese Mugwort, Chinese Ragwort, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Cudweed, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Common Wormwood, Coneflower, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Cotton Thistle, Cottonweed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy Bush, Dwarf Cudweed, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Eastern Groundsel, Eastern Leopardsbane, Elecampane, English Hawkweed, Fen Ragwort, Feverfew, Field Fleawort, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, French Tarragon, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Giant Butterbur, Glabrous-headed Hawkweed, Glandular Globe-thistle, Glaucous Michaelmas Daisy, Globe Artichoke, Globe-thistle, Goat's Beard, Golden Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Goldilocks Aster, Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Great Lettuce, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Guernsey Fleabane, Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, Hairless Leptinella, Hairy Michaelmas Daisy, Harpur Crewe's Leopardsbane, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Heath Cudweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Highland Cudweed, Hoary Mugwort, Hoary Ragwort, Hybrid Knapweed, Intermediate Burdock, Irish Fleabane, Jersey Cudweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lance-leaved Hawkweed, Lavender-cotton, Leafless Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Leopardplant, Leopardsbane, Leptinella, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Lesser Sunflower, London Bur-marigold, Magellan Ragwort, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Thistle, Meadow Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Milk Thistle, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, New Zealand Holly, Nipplewort, Nodding Bur-marigold, Northern Hawksbeard, Norwegian Mugwort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pearly Everlasting, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Ragweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Perennial Sunflower, Pineapple Mayweed, Plantain-leaved Leopardsbane, Ploughman's Spikenard, Plymouth Thistle, Pontic Blue Sow-thistle, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Coltsfoot, Rayed Tansy, Red Star Thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Red-tipped Cudweed, Robin's Plantain, Roman Chamomile, Rough Cocklebur, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Russian Lettuce, Safflower, Salsify, Saw-wort, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shrub Ragwort, Sicilian Chamomile, Silver Ragwort, Slender Mugwort, Slender Thistle, Small Cudweed, Small Fleabane, Smooth Cat's-ear, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Spotted Hawkweed, Stinking Chamomile, Stinking Hawksbeard, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Tansy, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White Butterbur, White Buttons, Willdenow's Leopardsbane, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Wood Ragwort, Woody Fleabane, Woolly Thistle, Yarrow, Yellow Chamomile, Yellow Fox and Cubs, Yellow Oxeye, Yellow Star Thistle, Yellow Thistle, York Groundsel
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Fields, roadsides, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside, towns, walls, wasteland.

Yellow, many petals
Solitary pale yellow flowers, 1cm in length. The flower petals spread outwards when young but later curl backwards. The outer bracts are brown-tipped. Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) is similar in appearance but that species does not have ray florets.
Brown, cylindrical, hairless and ribbed fruit. The seeds mature in August and September.
An annual grey-looking flower covered with sticky glandular hairs. Alternate, deep-lobed leaves. The upper leaves are unstalked and lower leaves, short-stalked.
Strong unpleasant fragrance.
Other Names:
Ashwort, Sticky Ragwort, Sticky Senecio, Stinking Groundsel.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Senecio viscosus, also known as sticky groundsel or sticky senecio, is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family. It is native to South Africa and is found in the southwestern and southern parts of the country, particularly in the fynbos and renosterveld vegetation types. It is a perennial herb that can reach up to 50cm in height. The leaves are sticky and covered in short, stiff hairs, which gives the plant its common name. The flowers are small and yellow, and bloom in the late summer and early fall. The plant is drought-tolerant and can grow in a variety of soils, but prefers well-drained soil.


Sticky Groundsel, also known as Senecio viscosus, is a perennial herbaceous plant that is native to Europe and western Asia. It is a member of the Asteraceae family and is known for its bright yellow flowers and sticky foliage. In this blog post, we will explore the characteristics, habitat, and potential benefits and drawbacks of this fascinating plant.


Sticky Groundsel is a small plant that grows up to 50 cm in height. It has bright yellow flowers that bloom from May to August and is covered in sticky glandular hairs that give the plant its name. The leaves are alternate, dark green, and have a distinct pungent odor when crushed.


Sticky Groundsel is typically found growing in damp or marshy areas, such as along streams, in wet meadows, and in disturbed habitats such as ditches and roadsides. It prefers cool and damp soil, but it can also tolerate dry soil conditions. This plant is a common weed in gardens, lawns, and other disturbed areas, where it can quickly spread and become invasive.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Sticky Groundsel has several potential benefits and drawbacks. On the one hand, it has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, digestive disorders, and skin conditions. The plant contains alkaloids, flavonoids, and other compounds that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties. Some studies suggest that it may have potential as a natural remedy for certain health conditions.

On the other hand, Sticky Groundsel can also be harmful to both humans and animals. The plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are toxic to the liver and can cause serious health problems if ingested. These alkaloids can also be absorbed through the skin, so it is important to handle the plant with care. In addition, Sticky Groundsel can be invasive and can compete with native plant species, reducing biodiversity and altering ecosystems.

Sticky Groundsel is a fascinating plant with a rich history and potential benefits and drawbacks. While it has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, it can also be harmful to both humans and animals if ingested. If you are interested in using Sticky Groundsel for medicinal purposes, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional first. If you encounter Sticky Groundsel in the wild, be sure to handle it with care and avoid ingesting any part of the plant.

More Information about Sticky Groundsel

Sticky Groundsel has also been used in herbal medicine to treat coughs, bronchitis, and asthma due to its expectorant and antispasmodic properties. The plant has been used in traditional medicine for wound healing, as it has been found to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. It has also been used externally as a poultice to treat skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis.

In addition, Sticky Groundsel has been found to have potential as a natural insecticide. The plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are toxic to insects, including some agricultural pests. Some studies have shown that Sticky Groundsel extracts can be effective in controlling pest populations, reducing the need for synthetic pesticides.

However, it is important to note that Sticky Groundsel should not be used without proper knowledge and guidance. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids it contains are hepatotoxic and can cause serious liver damage if ingested in large quantities over time. As such, it should only be used in small doses and under the supervision of a qualified herbalist or healthcare professional.

Sticky Groundsel also has cultural significance in some regions. In Celtic folklore, the plant was believed to have protective properties and was used in spells and rituals to ward off evil spirits. The plant was also associated with the goddess Brigid and was used in offerings and celebrations dedicated to her.

Sticky Groundsel has also been studied for its potential use in phytoremediation, the process of using plants to remove pollutants from the environment. The plant has been found to be effective in removing heavy metals such as cadmium and lead from contaminated soil, making it a potential tool for environmental remediation.

However, as with any plant or natural remedy, it is important to use Sticky Groundsel responsibly and with caution. It is important to properly identify the plant and its potential risks and benefits before using it for medicinal or other purposes. In addition, it is important to avoid introducing Sticky Groundsel to areas where it is not native or where it may become invasive and harmful to local ecosystems.

In terms of cultivation, Sticky Groundsel is a relatively easy plant to grow. It prefers cool, damp soil and partial shade, but can tolerate a range of growing conditions. The plant can be propagated from seeds or cuttings, and can be grown in containers or directly in the ground. However, as mentioned earlier, it is important to avoid introducing Sticky Groundsel to areas where it is not native or where it may become invasive.

Sticky Groundsel is also an important food source for certain insects, including bees and butterflies. The bright yellow flowers provide nectar and pollen for these pollinators, making the plant an important component of pollinator-friendly gardens and habitats.

In conclusion, Sticky Groundsel is a versatile plant with a rich history and a range of potential uses and benefits. While it should be used with caution and under the guidance of a qualified practitioner, it has the potential to be a valuable resource for natural medicine, environmental remediation, and insect control. Its importance as a food source for pollinators also highlights its significance in supporting healthy ecosystems.


Sticky Groundsel at Morecambe, Lancashire on the 23rd October 2022.


Music credits
Cambodian Odyssey by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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