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The brightly coloured yellow flowers of the Annual Yellowtop (Senecio gregorii) is a welcoming sight, especially in spring when they carpet the arid regions of Central Australia, although this is usually when there has been good autumn or winter rains. Although they are an annual plant, they may not appear during periods of drought.

The Senecio gregorii is a species described by Ferdinand von Mueller, his full title Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller. He is a German-Australian physician, geographer, and botanist, been appointed government botanist for the then colony of Victoria (Australia) by Governor Charles La Trobe in 1853. He was also the Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, founding the National Herbarium of Victoria.

The yellowtop can reach a height of 30 cm with a yellow centre surrounded by 7-8 petals. The flower centre can be up to 1 cm in diameter with petals spaced apart in a star like formation and up to 2 cm in length.

The photographs of this Annual Yellowtop does appear to show some difference to others of the same species, as a result of different soil profile and nutrient values. At Rainbow Valley S. gregorii appear to be more succulent in appearance then those growing in other areas of Central Australia. The purplish colour of the leaves and stem in the Rainbow Valley specie are sugars reacting to the cold weather (something that many plants do).1

Also known as Fleshy Groundsel and Yellow Tops, when the flower set seed it changes into a head of densely white silky bristles. The seeds are spread by wind.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Class: Equisetopsida
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Genus: Senecio
  • Species: S. gregorii
  • Binomial name: Senecio gregorii

Footnote & References

  1. Senecio Gregorii – Many thanks to Karlee Foster for identification and additional information, Australian Indigenous Plant Identification
  2. Annual Yellowtop, Ausemade, https://ausemade.com.au/flora-fauna/flora/annual-yellowtop-senecio-gregorii/