Senecio quadridentatus


Senecio: From the Latin senex 'old man' (probably referring to the bearded seeds)

Common Name(s)

cotton fireweed, white fireweed, pahokoraka

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Senecio quadridentatus Labill.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs - Composites


Erechtites quadridentata (Labill.) DC.


Indigenous. Three Kings, North, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands. Present in Australia


Throughout from coastal to subalpine habitats. Always in recently distrubed ground


Short-lived, usually much branched, perennial herb up to 1 m tall. Stems erect, moderately to densely covered in appressed-cottony hairs. Mid stem leaves more or less evenly spaced and sized., linear to narrow linear, 80-220 mm long, length:width ratio (l:w) 15-40 (or 7-10 if lobes present), mostly entire, rarely dissected or lobed, sometimes coarsely dentate to lobate; segments remote 1-3 per side and mainly in proximal half, spreading, triangular, base attenuate or occasionaly with small entire auricles, not amplexicaul; margin entire or with frequentminute denticulations, appearing entire due to revolute margin; upper surface hairs appressed-cobwebby becoming glabrescent; lower surface green or purple-green, moderately to densely woolly. Upper stem leaves similar; auricles more frequent. Unit Inflorescence usually of many capitula; total number of capitula per stem often 50-200; overtopping variable; mature lateral peduncles mostly 5-25 mm long. Calycular bracteoles of capitula 4-8, 1.0-3.0 mm long peduncle and margin of bracteoles cobwebby to woolly at anthesis, or glabrate; involucre 6.0-10.0 x 1.2-2.0 mm; involucral bracts 8-14, basally cobwebby or glabrate, with apex erect; stereomes (in dried material) more or less flat, green or partially purple, sometimes minutely black-tipped or purple in a zone 1 mm long below tip. Florets 18-50, c. 80% female; corolla-lobes triangular, not or hardly thickened apically; corolla of bisexual florets 6-9 mm long, 4-lobed; corolla-lobes of female florets 3, 0.1 mm long. Cypsela 2.2-3.5 mm long, subcylindric, narrow to and constricted below apex, usually with 2-3 rows of hairs in narrow grooves between broad ribs, sometimes glabrous.

Similar Taxa

Seencio dunedinensis Belcher is similar and could be confused. Generally it is a smaller less heavily branched plant, with much wider dark green to purple-green glabrescent leaves. The involucral bracts are 4-6 mm rather than 6-10 mm long. Senecio quadridentatus tends to grow at lower altitudes than S. dunedinensis but at times the two species are sympatric and some of the variation seen between both species may be due to hybridism.


October - March

Flower Colours



December - May

Propagation Technique

Easy from fresh seed. The silvery white foliage can be quite attractive but this species is invasive. Prefers full sun.


Not Threatened

Chromosome No.

2n = 40

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available.

Taxonomic notes

Unpublished Molecular evidence (nrDNA ITS sequences) held by University of Auckland place this species as sister to S. marotiri and S. dunedinensis.



Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange (12 July 2005). Description based on Thompson (2004).

References and further reading

Thompson, I.R. 2004: Taxonomic studies of Australian Senecio (Asteraceae): 1. The disciform species. Muelleria 19: 101-214.

This page last updated on 11 Aug 2014