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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Canary Creeper (Senecio tamoides)

Family Asteraceae
 Description

A vigorous fast-growing climber with semi-succulent stems and leaves that has a spread of 4 x 2 m. It is mostly evergreen, but during severe winters or in areas that suffer from frost, it will react deciduously, dying back and then recovering beautifully again in the spring.

The light green, shiny, fleshy leaves resemble those of ivy in that they are roughly triangle-shaped with unequal lobes and are attractive all year round. The wonderfully bright canary yellow daisy flowers are borne massed in clusters during late summer and autumn (March to July), making a lovely show; they also have a delightful aromatic scent. The seeds are typical of the daisy family-fluffy and creamy white.

 Distribution and Habitat

The canary creeper occurs naturally on our indigenous forest margins from the Eastern Cape to Zimbabwe , as well as in patches of forest in KwaZulu-Natal and in scattered localities along the escarpment. In its natural habitat, it scrambles up on shrubs and climbs into trees, twining from the shady forest floor to reach the sunlit tree-tops where it can then flower successfully.

 Ecology

The flowers attract butterflies and the larvae of the Tricoloured Tiger and Delegorgue's Prince moth feed on Senecio species. Seeds are wind dispersed.

  Uses and cultural aspects Used widely in gardens as a popular, cheerful, colourful, easy-to-grow climber. In traditional medicine it is used to treat anthrax in cattle and flatulence.