[Groundsels and Butterweeds of the Columbia River Gorge of Oregon and Washington]

Lambstongue Groundsel, Tall Western Groundsel, Western Groundsel

Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus

Synonyms: Senecio integerrimus var. vaseyi, Senecio vaseyi

Lambstongue Groundsel, Tall Western Groundsel, Western Groundsel: Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus (Synonyms: Senecio integerrimus var. vaseyi, Senecio vaseyi)

Western groundsel as seen from the Columbia Hills, north of Dallesport, WA.......May 1, 2005.

Lambstongue Groundsel, Tall Western Groundsel, Western Groundsel: Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus (Synonyms: Senecio integerrimus var. vaseyi, Senecio vaseyi)The photo at right shows a close-up of the black-tipped involucral bracts of Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus from the Columbia Hills, north of Dallesport, WA.......May 1, 2005. Note the loose white hairs on the bracts.
Characteristics:

Western groundsel is a stout, solitary stemmed perennial from a fibrous-rooted crown which grows from 20-70 cm tall. The stems may be branched slightly. The herbage is cobwebby-hairy when young, and tends to become smooth or glabrous with age. The basal leaves are petiolate with entire to irregularly toothed leaf margins. The basal leaves are commonly from 6-25 cm long and 1-6 cm wide. The stem leaves become reduced upwards, and become sessile.

The several to numerous flower heads often form a congested inflorescence. The involucre is usually 5-10 mm tall with the bracts in one row, each having a pointed, black tip (see upper photo). The flower heads usually have both disk and ray flowers. The rays are usually 6-15 mm long.


Varieties:

Senecio integerrimus var. vaseyi: Flower heads discoid. It may be found from the Cascade and Wenatchee Mts. of central Washington and possibly south through the Cascades to California.

Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus: Flower heads yellow with both disk and ray flowers. The basal leaves tend to oblanceolate or elliptic in shape. It may be found east of the Cascade crest in dry woodlands and prairies from northern Washington south to the Columbia River gorge and possibly south to California. It is found eastward through Washington and Oregon to northern Idaho and Montana.

Senecio integerrimus var. ochroleucus: Flower heads white or creamy colored. The basal leaves tend to be deltoid or subcordate. (See lower photo.) It may be found in open areas across the range of the species.


Habitat:

Western groundsel is found from the lowlands to well into the mountains on open ground or open woods which are moist in spring and dry during the summer.


Range:

Western groundsel is found from southern British Columbia south to California, and east to Saskatchewan and Minnesota.

In the Columbia River Gorge, variety exaltatus is found from 200'-4400' in elevation from between approximately Multnomah Falls and the Columbia Hills. Variety ochroleucus is found between 100'-4200' in elevation from approximately the Wind River to about the Major Creek Plateau.


Importance/ Uses:

Western groundsel concentrates alkaloids from the soil, and so is poisonous to livestock. Early in the season, this hasn't become a problem yet, so it might be grazed by sheep, elk, and cattle. It is an indicator of overgrazing on rangeland.


Lambstongue Groundsel, Tall Western Groundsel, Western Groundsel: Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus (Synonyms: Senecio integerrimus var. vaseyi, Senecio vaseyi) - Lambstongue Groundsel, Tall Western Groundsel, Western Groundsel: Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus (Synonyms: Senecio integerrimus var. vaseyi, Senecio vaseyi) - Inflorescence of Lambstongue Groundsel, Tall Western Groundsel, Western Groundsel: Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus (Synonyms: Senecio integerrimus var. vaseyi, Senecio vaseyi)

Western groundsel (left) as seen in bloom on the southeastern slopes of Sevenmile Hill several miles northwest of The Dalles, Oregon..........April 12, 2015.The photo at center shows basal leaves of western groundsel as seen from the same location..........March 8, 2015. Young leaves of this species tend to have a purple cast to them (especially on the underside) when they've just emerged from the ground. The photo at right shows a close-up of the inflorescence as seen on the southeastern slopes of Sevenmile Hill several miles to the northwest of The Dalles, Oregon.........March 30, 2015.

Basal leaves of Lambstongue Groundsel, Tall Western Groundsel, Western Groundsel: Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus (Synonyms: Senecio integerrimus var. vaseyi, Senecio vaseyi)

Basal leaves of western groundsel as seen along the Memaloose Trail between Chatfield and Marsh Hills, Columbia River Gorge........March 2, 2016.

Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus from the Columbia Hills, north of Dallesport, WA.......6-1-97.

The photo above shows Senecio integerrimus var. exaltatus as seen from the Columbia Hills, north of Dallesport, WA.......6-1-97.

Paul Slichter