Senecio angulatus

Senecio angulatus, also known as creeping groundsel[5] and Cape ivy,[6][7] is a succulent flowering plant in the family Asteraceae that is native to South Africa. Cape ivy is a scrambling and a twining herb[8] that can become an aggressive weed once established, making it an invasive species.[3][9] It has been naturalised in the Mediterranean Basin, where it is grown as an ornamental plant for its satiny foliage and sweet-scented flowers.[10] Other names include climbing groundsel,[5] Algerian senecio,[11] and scrambling groundsel.[12]

Senecio angulatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Senecio
S. angulatus
Binomial name
Senecio angulatus
L.f. (1781)
Native range of S. angulatus
  • Senecio macropodus DC.
  • Cineraria laevis A.Spreng.

Sources: IPNI,[1] GRIN,[2] NZPND,[3] The Plant List[4]

Cape ivy can be distinguished vegetatively from Delairea odorata (German ivy) by the lack of lobes at the leaf stalk base, the fleshy leaf surface, the outwardly curved leaf teeth, stiff stems, a more rambling habit, and the ray florets with petal-like ligules.[3][13] In Australia, Senecio tamoides (Canary creeper) may usually be misapplied and is considered to be Senecio angulatus.[14]


Leaves and stems


Its form is a dense tangled shrub 2 metres (6.6 ft) tall[15] or a climber that can reach 6 metres (20 ft) high, if suitable support is available.[8] The leaves are rhombic to ovate, 3 to 5 centimetres (1.2 to 2.0 in) long and 1 to 5 centimetres (0.39 to 1.97 in) wide and occur in 1-4 pairs. They are thick, glossy, fleshy and coarsely toothed, with one to three teeth each side[3] and bluntly lobed,[15] with upper leaves becoming smaller with fewer teeth or none at all.[3] They have a frosted look from a powdery coating on the lower side.

Leaf stalks are 1 to 4 centimetres (0.39 to 1.57 in) long.[13]

The stems are succulent, pale green, and are often variegated with pale yellow green and purple. They are slightly angular (not upright) and usually sparingly branched.[3] Neither stems nor leaves are hairy.[3][13]



Senecio angulatus produces numerous flowers in open clusters at the end of its branches or stems.[3] The honey-scented flowers are on an elongated stem and open in succession from the base up as the stem continues to grow. The flower clusters are more flat at the top than pyramid-like, and are 4 to 8 centimetres (1.6 to 3.1 in) in diameter.[13] Often the cluster droops with the flower heads at the end of the cluster turning upwards.

Flower stalks are mostly hairless or with some short hairs, 6.5 to 10.5 millimetres (0.26 to 0.41 in) long. Attached to flower stalks are 8-11 fine pointed bracts 5 to 6 millimetres (0.20 to 0.24 in)[3] which are surrounded by 4-7 pale green and sometimes purple tinged supplementary bracts at the base, 1.5 to 2.5 millimetres (0.059 to 0.098 in) which make a cup shape around the base of the involucre.

Individual flower-heads are radiate and urn-shaped.[13] The corolla has a disc[3] comprising 10-15 dull golden yellow disc florets.[13] Each disc floret is a hairless tube with a slight expansion below the middle and lobes 1.3 to 2 millimetres (0.051 to 0.079 in) wide. 4-6 ray florets surround the disc florets and have yellow[3]ligules (that look like petals) 5.5 to 9.5 millimetres (0.22 to 0.37 in) long that make the flowers look daisy-like.[15]

An autumn-winter bloomer, the plant flowers from April to May in Southern Africa[8] and May to July in Australia and New Zealand.[13] In the northern hemisphere, particularly in Italy and Spain, it flowers from November to the end of January.[16][17]

Fruits and reproduction

Cape ivy is easily dispersed by wind-blown seed, stem fragments, dumped garden waste and by the expansion of the plant through runners.[15] Achenes are 3 to 4 millimetres (0.12 to 0.16 in) long,[3] ribbed or grooved with short hairs in the grooves[3] and a tapering cylindrical shape.[3][13] The parachute-like hairs, the pappus, are 5 to 7 millimetres (0.20 to 0.28 in) long.[3][13]



Grown towards a picket fence in Tel Aviv.

Cape ivy is cultivated in parts of North Africa, Southern Europe[18] and the Levant, where it was introduced in Malta in the 15th century as an ornamental plant.[19] In Queensland, cape ivy may have increased in popularity following the Boer War, as there were anecdotal accounts that it was introduced from South Africa by the soldiers who returned to Australia after 1902. Moreover, it was displayed in garden pillars in Brisbane newspapers between 1906 and 1910, praising the plant for the beauty of both its foliage and its yellow clusters of blooms. Though these reports may have falsely applied the S. angulatus name to Senecio tamoides, which was a weed at that time on the east coast.[20]

The plant was collected as a weed in Melbourne's southern suburb of Mornington in 1936, and was displayed in newspaper column submissions in areas between Bendigo and Swan Hill in the 1940s and 1950s. In Melbourne metropolitan area, it became prevalent on coastal banks and on decomposed rock gullies of suburban creeks.[20] It was introduced in New Zealand in 1940 as an ornamental.[9]


Cape ivy grows in USDA hardiness zones 9a through 11b and is medium to fast-growing. Very drought tolerant, it would flourish better with some water in the summer and would bloom more often in full sun. It can grow indoors as a houseplant, provided it gets some sunlight. Pruning is necessary as the plant can become limp when it gets taller.[21]

Propagation can be done by cuttings (as the plant easily roots from the branch tips), and this is to be conducted between spring and fall.[22][23] Seeds prefer consistent moisture and warm temperatures to germinate. Although some sources indicate that its seeds are unviable.[24] Annual fertilisation is necessary, though not mandatory. Pests include aphids.


Phytochemical profiling showed antioxidant and anti-acetylcholinesterase activities in extracts from Algerian Senecio angulatus. The hydro-methanolic and the acetate extracts have exhibited antioxidant potential of acetate for FRAP and phenanthroline methods. Furthermore, a high amount of cynarin and trans-ferulic acid was found in the extract whereas butanolic infusion had recorded the highest amount of chlorogenic acid. Though phenolic compounds tend to have hydroxyl in their composition, contributing to the antioxidant activity.[11]


Naturalisation at a scrubland in Jordan
Cultivated at an apartment complex in Jerusalem

It is native to the Cape Province in South Africa, hence its name. Cape ivy has been naturalized in parts of South Italy, France, Portugal and some coastal areas in southeastern Australia.[13] It is invasive in New Zealand and an environmental weed in Victoria, Australia.[9] Because it is aggressive, it can smother the existing native vegetation both in the ground layer and canopy, thus altering the light climate in the invaded community and sometimes suppress the regeneration of native plants.[15]

East Tropical Africa: Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania
Southern Africa: South Africa (native)
Australia: Western Australia (Esperance Plains, Warren, Swan Coastal Plain),[8] New South Wales (South Coast and Mid North Coast), southern Victoria and Tasmania.
New Zealand: Nelson City, Wairau Bar, Marlborough and Banks Peninsula
Northern Africa: Tunisia, Libya[19] and Algeria[25]
Macaronesia: Canary Islands (Gran Canaria, Hierro, Tenerife), Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Formentera, Mallorca, Menorca)
Southwestern Europe: Corsica, Channel Islands, Spain, France & Monaco, Portugal
Southeastern Europe: Italy, Sardinia, Sicily, Albania, Croatia and surrounding islands[19]

Sources: GRIN,[2] FBAF,[8] NSWF,[13] NZPND,[3] BGB


Cape ivy prefers soils of black calcareous and grey sand, sandy clay and limestone. It finds homes with these soils in coastal areas on cliff faces, mudflats, wet depressions in dunes, near swamps,[8] in landfills, scrubland and near settlements,[13] especially near the sea.[3]

Other names

  • French: Séneçon anguleux (senecio angular)
  • Italian: senecio rampicante (creeping senecio)
  • Spanish: la hiedra del Cabo, senecio hiedra (cape ivy, senecio ivy)
  • Xhosa: inDindilili[6]
  • Arabic: الشيخة القريض, الشيخة الزحف القريض, دعسة القطة, سلك التلفون ,شيخة مضلعة (telephone cord, cat's footprint, climbing groundsel, polygonal sheikh/senecio)
  • Hebrew: סביון מזוות (climbing groundsel)


  1. "Senecio angulatus". International Plant Names Index (IPNI). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; Harvard University Herbaria & Libraries; Australian National Botanic Gardens. 2008-05-29.
  2. "Senecio angulatus". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2008-03-31.
  3. Landcare Research. "Senecio angulatus L.f. Suppl. 369 (1781)". Flora of New Zealand: Taxa. Landcare Research Allan Herbarium and New Zealand Plant Names Database. Retrieved 2021-09-18.
  4. The Plant List. "Cineraria laevis A.Spreng". TICA. The Plant List. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  5. Muyt, Adam (2001). Bush invaders of south-east Australia: a guide to the identification and control of environmental weeds in south-east Australia. R.G. and F.J. Richardson. pp. 304 pages. ISBN 0-9587439-7-5. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
  6. Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). "Page 2456". CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms, and Etymology. CRC Press. ISBN 0-8493-2673-7. Retrieved 2008-04-14.
  7. Cape ivy (mile a minute, climbing groundsel) (Senecio angulatus) State of Victoria (Agriculture Victoria) 1996-2021
  8. Western Australian Herbarium (2007-09-11). "Senecio angulatus L.f." FloraBase. Government of Western Australia. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
  9. "Senecio angulatus". New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
  10. Senecio angulatus, il rampicante fiorito a novembre by
  11. LC-ESI/MS-phytochemical profiling with antioxidant and antiacetylcholinesterase activities of Algerian Senecio angulatus L.f. extracts Ahlem Bousetla, Hatice Banu Keskinkaya, Chawki Bensouici, Mostefa Lefahal, Mehmet Nuri Atalar, Salah Akkal. National Library of Medicine. 21 July 2021.
  12. Climbing groundsel Senecio angulatus Brisbane City Council, Weed Identification Tool. Retrieved 6 November 2022.
  13. National Herbarium of New South Wales. "Senecio angulatus L." New South Wales FloraOnline. Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
  14. Weeds of Australia (Biosecurity Queensland Edition). "Senecio angulatus L. f." Queensland Government. Retrieved 2020-02-08.
  15. Tom Forney, Steve Hurst (2007). "Kudzu Pueraria lobata" (PDF). Government of Oregon. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
  16. Senecio angulatus – Senecio rampicante by Laura Bennet from CASA E GIARDINO
  17. Senecio angulatus, il rampicante fiorito a novembre by Giovanna Rio from Cose di Casa
  18. Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem. "Details for: Senecio angulatus". Euro+Med PlantBase. Freie Universität Berlin. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
  19. Senecio angulatus (Creeping Groundsel) by Stephen Mifsud
  20. Climbing Groundsel (Senecio angulatus) by Weeds of Melbourne, July 10, 2019
  21. Climbing Groundsel (Senecio angulatus) by Weeds of Melbourne, July 10, 2019
  22. Senecio angulatus (Climbing Groundsel) by World of Succulents, August 30, 2013
  23. Creeping or climbing groundsel (Senecio angulatus) by Eurobodalla Shire Council
  24. Options for restoration of Cape ivy (Senecio angulatus) – dominated sites using native coastal species, Glinks Gully, Northland David Bergin, Envirolink, 2006
  25. Apparition de Senecio angulatus (Asteraceae) en Algérie by M. D. Miara, L. Boutabia, S. Telaïlia & E. Vela, 3 September 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2020
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