Common groundsel

Senecio vulgaris L. Asteraceae (Aster family)

Life cycle

Summer or winter annual capable of multiple generations per year.

Common groundsel plant
Common groundsel plant.


Alternate, sparsely hairy to smooth with variable leaf shape. Young leaf margins may be smooth to slightly wavy; older leaves have deep, irregular lobes and coarsely toothed margins. Lower leaves have short stalks; upper leaves are stalkless.

Common groundsel seedling
Common groundsel seedling.


Smooth, erect and multiple-branched. Usually no taller than 12 inches.

Flowers and fruit

Numerous yellow, cylindrical- to cone-shaped flower heads are produced in clusters at the stem ends. The seed is enclosed in a single-seeded, wind-disseminated fruit that forms in a white, approximately 0.5-inch-wide puffball collection.

Common groundsel flower head
Common groundsel flower head.



Common groundsel puff ball
Mature seedhead of common groundsel.

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The MSU IPM Program maintains this site as an access point to pest management information at MSU. The IPM Program is administered within the Department of Entomology, fueled by research from the AgBioResearch, delivered to citizens through MSU Extension, and proud to be a part of Project GREEEN.