Saturday, 15 November 2008

Senecio mikanioides

Bom Jesus de Braga

A weedy plant that is often classified as invasive. (In Madeira, it is a decided nuisance, but less of a problem in dryer climates.) Relegated from the garden, it is to be found climbing rusty chain-link fences or on rubbish heaps. Nevertheless this little vine lights up many a dull November day. It is not as refined a plant as the related Senecio tamoides - the differences are that mikanioides has more weedy (cucurbit-like) foliage and the flowers are more of a groundsel - somehow it still has its charm. Here as photographed this week at Bom Jesus it is concealing some abhorrant barbed wire!

It is highly recommended by the Belgian L'illustration horticole Vol I 1854, under the name Delairea odorata (recently resurrected see below). "Trop rare dans les jardins" ! Delaire was the head gardener at the Jardin Botanique d'Orléans. It was illustrated in Vol 6 of Horticulteur Universal (Mai 1844). Described as "une plant fort désirable, en raison de son pittoresque port, de son curieux foliage, de ses nombreuses panicles de petites fleurs jaunes, dont l'arôme rappèle tout-à-fait celui de l'Heliotrope du Pérou." Recommended for cold greenhouses, to climb pillars or decorate hanging baskets. Flowering abundantly througfh the winter. Needs frost free conditions, indifferent to soil.

Native of Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

The lady behind, bearing a sturdy-hulled ship, represents Confidence. But that is another story.

Of course as with most Senecios we should again now use the old name (since 2006)

Delairea odorata Lem. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 2006. Magnoliophyta: Asteridae, part 7: Asteraceae, part 2. Fl. N. Amer. 20: i–xxii + 1–666.

Senecio mikanioides Otto ex Walp. Allgemeine Gartenzeitung 13(6): 42. 1845.
Cacalia scandens
Cacalia bryonoides - the foliage is indeed just like bryony
Mikania senecionides
Bryonia palmata - a name used in French nurseries
Ipomaea hederacea - a name used in German nurseries - hence the totally inappropriate common name "German Ivy"!

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