Perennials, (20-)40-80(-120) cm (caudices fibrous-rooted). Herbage usually floccose-tomentose to glabrescent, sometimes glabrous. Stems single or loosely clustered. Leaves progressively reduced distally; petiolate (proximal); blades ovate to lanceolate, 7-15 × (1-)2-5 cm, bases contracted or tapered, margins subentire or serrate to dentate (mid and distal leaves similar, sessile, bractlike, often clasping). Heads nodding (especially when young), (1-)3-12(-20) in racemiform or paniculiform arrays (terminal heads often largest). Calyculi of 4-10 linear bractlets (lengths mostly 1 / 3 - 1 / 2 phyllaries, sometimes 1 or 2 equaling phyllaries). Phyllaries ± 13 or ± 21, 6-12 mm, tips green. Ray florets 0. Cypselae glabrous. 2n = 40.
The two varieties of Senecio bigelovii are distinguished by morphologic tendencies and by geography.
FNA 2006, Kearney and Peebles 1969, McDougall 1973
Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Forb/Herb General: Herbaceous to shrubby perennials to 1 m tall, stems slender to stout, singular or loosely clustered, the herbage glabrous to sparsely hispid or floccose-tomentose, plants uniformly leafy, the woody persistent base with fibrous roots. Leaves: Alternate or basal, 3-13 cm long and up to 25 mm wide, ovate, lanceolate, oblong, or linear, margins serrate with gland-tipped teeth, the basal leaves petiolate, the upper ones reduced and sessile, bract-like, and clasping. Flowers: Heads discoid, nodding, disk flowers yellow, involucres 8-10 mm high and 10-15 mm wide, cylindrical to hemispherical, row of outer bracts of 4-10 linear bractlets, irregularly arranged, these sometimes turning purple with age, phyllaries equal, broadly linear, sub-herbaceous with scarious margins and acute apices, occurring in a single series, heads borne on peduncles up to 6 cm long in upper axils and at stem tips, forming clusters of raceme-like or paniculiform arrays. Fruits: Achenes terete, ribbed glabrous. Pappus of numerous, soft, white, capillary bristles with green tips, 6-12 mm long. Ecology: Found in rich, moist soils, in coniferous forests and grassy hillsides, from 6,500-11,000 ft (1981-3353 m); flowering July-September. Distribution: Arizona, New Mexico. Notes: Good identifiers for this species are the alternate, petiolate or sessile leaves and the yellow, discoid, nodding heads. Ethnobotany: Unknown Etymology: Senecio is from senex, old man, which refers to the gray hairs on the seeds, while bigelovii is named for Dr. John Milton Bigelow (1804-1878) who collected under Whipple on the Pacific Railroad Survey of 1853-1854. Synonyms: Ligularia bigelovii Editor: LCrumbacher 2011