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groundsel

groundsel ground´səl [key], any plant of the very large genus Senecio, widely distributed herbs and (in the tropics) shrubs or trees of the family Asteraceae ( aster family). Many grow as vines. Most North American species have small, yellow, daisylike flowers; they are especially abundant in the plains region. Some species of the genus are better known as ragworts. The golden ragwort, or squawweed ( S. aureus ), was used as an emmenagogue and a vulnerary by Native Americans and settlers. Other species have also been used medicinally. A few have been found to be poisonous to livestock, although others are useful for grazing. The common groundsel ( S. vulgaris ), naturalized from Europe, is one of the species that is sometimes cultivated. The fruits of groundsels usually have a conspicuous white down (pappus), a characteristic shared by Baccharis halmifolia, the groundsel tree, which is a related shrub of the E United States. Groundsel is classified in the division Magnoliophyta , class Magnoliopsida, order Asterales, family Asteraceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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