Texas Groundsel, Texas Squaw-Weed

Senecio ampullaceus


Description

Texas groundsel is a cool-season annual herb. It grows to 12 to 30 inches tall. The plants are often whitish with hair, but can be nearly hairless. The unlobed, clasping leaves gradually reduce in size toward the top of the plant. Showy yellow flowers are produced in the spring. The seedling, or winter rosette, often has a purplish cast to the underside of the leaves, especially on the midrib.


Habitat

Texas groundsel is found in the eastern half of the state. It is abundant in sandy soils and may be a predominant species in freshly cleared forest.


Toxic Agent

The toxic agent of these plants has not been established, nor have experimental feeding trials proven its toxicity. In field cases, cattle consuming Texas groundsel developed clinical signs and lesions typical of pyrrolizidine alkaloid poisoning, as occurs with other Senecio species. Clinical signs appeared several months after it was ingested; the plants were long dead when the animals became ill. The dead animals had classical liver cirrhosis identical to that produced by pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Tests on many normal-appearing herd mates of the dead animals showed that they also had liver damage. Llamas pastured with the plant for months at a time have also succumbed to terminal liver cirrhosis.


Signs of Livestock Ingestion

The clinical signs of poisoned cattle and llamas may include: Anorexia; Depression; Weight loss; Aggression; Death.

These animals die because of liver failure.


Images