DixPix Photographs





The ASTER or SUNFLOWER FAMILY is known either as ASTERACEAE, or by the older and more descriptive name COMPOSITAE.  It is a huge family, something like 23,000 species globally.  Although the orchid family has more species, the asters are more prominent, especially in temperate climates.  The family is renown both for its variety of garden flowers and for its variety of widespread weeds.

There have been a very great number of Asteraceae species described in the Southern Cordillera, and much confusion.  For purposes of this web site, the family has been rather roughly divided into six pages, namely Cluster Flowers, Daisy Like, Dandelion Like, Senecios and Kin. Sunflower Like, and finally Thistles and Vines.  This does not follow more formal and complex methods of dividing the family.


The Senecio genus is the largest in Asteraceae, and some might say the dullest.  There is a bewildering number of species recorded in the southern Cordillera, over 260 in Chile alone, some very localized.  Many species look rather pinched and constipated, as if they would like to put out petals but can't. Click to see big picture (418x480 pixels; 89 KB)
Other Senecio are well adorned with petals.  This example from the Teno valley of Chile is likely S. poeppigii.  From photos it is often difficult to identify the genus, let alone the species, especially if clues such as the sepals are not showing. Click to see big picture (640x448 pixels; 103 KB)
And this one from south of Coyhaique in patagonian Chile appears to be one of the four varieties of Senecio patagonicus.
Another species with white foliage from higher in the central Andes. Click to see big picture (562x480 pixels; 140 KB)
There are a great number of Senecio species in the high andes,  This handsome species from the head of the Maule River doesn't quite look like any I can find, even with the red sepals.
From above timberline of Volcan Lonquimay, Senecio neaei, which may be found on the high Andes of the southern Cordillera.
As if there weren't enough types of Senecio in the southern Cordillera, this is a European invasive known as Wood Groundsel (S. sylvaticus).  Likely arriving with agricultural materials, it has appeared in central Chile and Argentina. Click to see big picture (317x480 pixels; 54 KB)
A fairly distinctive appearance with square, flanged stems sets this Chilean example apart, possibly a senecio. Click to see big picture (408x480 pixels; 125 KB)
Endemic to the lowlands of central Chile, Senecio murorum stands out by its reddish foliage, which has given it the local name Monte Azulillo. monte azulillo
From the steppes of southern Argentina, Senecio gilliesii approx. Click to see big picture (548x480 pixels; 139 KB)
Similar blue tinged, crinkled leaves from a rocky area in central Rio Negro Province, perhaps the same species.
An Autumn Senecio from high in the central Andes, apparently the widespread Senecio linariifolius-- a messy taxon.. Click to see big picture (460x480 pixels; 101 KB)
It is unusual to find a species with succulent leaves on boggy ground, but here is one from high in the mountains of Peru. succulent senecio
A large leaved species from La Rioja Province of Argentina, Senecio cf. fistulosus is native to both sides of the Cordillera, and this has many of its characteristics. Click to see big picture (532x480 pixels; 136 KB)
This mountain species with succulent leaves has been posted as Senecio hollermayeri, but that is a troubled taxon. Click to see big picture (640x476 pixels; 152 KB)
Again, succulent leaves, but this is Senecio larahuinensis, from 4000 meters in the dry Chilca Range of southern Peru.  The red flowers are a relief from all those yellow Senecios.
From the mountains of Central Peru, here is a species with similar flowers, but a white foliage.
An unusual example from Salta Province of Argentina. Click to see big picture (588x480 pixels; 162 KB)
And from the same area,  a shrub species. Click to see big picture (499x480 pixels; 96 KB)
S. eruciformis has leaves divided like this example from near Los Vilos, but so do several other members of the aster family.
Senecio subdiscoideus, is a mat plant  found in the mountains of south and central Chilean and Argentine Andes. Click to see big picture (640x390 pixels; 135 KB)
There are many species of mat forming Senecio-like plants.  This one is from over 4000 meters altitude in the Cordillera Yauyos of west central Peru. senecio mat
Or how about this aster mat from over 5000 meters in the Chila Range of southern Chile.  It would appear to to Senecio vegetus.
A hairy and sticky example from near the coast at Los Vilos, Chile. Click to see big picture (640x342 pixels; 83 KB)
A white foliage example from the alpine of Peru.   This looks a lot like Senecio rufescens, although there are many white-leaved senecios, even at altitude. Click to see big picture (365x480 pixels; 112 KB)
Another contender for Senecio rufescens, from 4500 meters in the Aija sector of Peru.  (Rufescens inhabits the high ground from Ecuador to northwestern Argentina.)  This specimen is sticky enough to be called a tar-weed.
And an unusually beautiful Senecio-like species from the highlands of Bolivia.  On the other hand, this appears to be Tagetes multiflora, locally known as Chinchi. Click to see big picture (640x453 pixels; 85 KB)
Here is a mystery.  A very tall and very woody example from the high mountains of the central Andes.  May well not be a Senecio. Click to see big picture (640x382 pixels; 76 KB)
This bush in the Chilean hills appears to be Senecio cymosus. Click to see big picture (607x480 pixels; 133 KB)
Ameghinoa patagonica, which despite its name is endemic to both south and central Argentina. Click to see big picture (640x336 pixels; 82 KB)
Sencio smithii is a handsome species, as senecios go.  It is native to Patagonia, but has been introduced into Europe. 
Senecio smithii again; a view of the full plant on the beach at Caleta Tortel in Chilean Patagonia.
So it turns out not to be a Senecio.  You have your pick between Gnaphalium americanum and Gamochaeta americana, synonyms.  Widely scattered weeds on the world stage.  Here in central Chile. Click to see big picture (375x480 pixels; 75 KB)
This one doesn't look like a Senecio, or anything else for that matter, but it is.  In the high paramos from Columbia to Peru, this hairy giant is Senecio canescens.
A frontal view at least makes Senecio Canescens look a bit more like something out of the aster family, it could even pass for a hoary sunflower.  In Peru it is known as Wira-wira.