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Products > Senecio kleinia
Senecio kleinia - Canary Islands Candle Plant
Image of Senecio kleinia
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Succulent
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflowers)
Origin: Canary Islands (Atlantic Ocean)
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Fragrant Flowers: Yes
Synonyms: [Kleinia nerifolia]
Height: 4-8 feet
Width: 6-8 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Seaside: Yes
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
Senecio kleinia (Canary Islands Candle Plant) - A succulent sparingly branched winter growing shrub with gray bark on thick articulated (with constrictions like a sausage) stems that can grow to 6 to 10 feet tall and wide but usually seen in cultivation in the 4-to-5-foot range. It has narrow 3- to 5-inch-long gray-green leaves near the branch tips that come directly on the stems without a petiole. Small whitish yellow fragrant flowers appear in later spring to summer on terminal short, branched corymbs at branch tips followed by white fluffy seed heads.

Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate infrequently if at all in California coastal gardens, though some irrigation and feeding will keep foliage lush on this dry season dormant plant. It is frost hardy to around 28 °F. A strange and attractive plant that needs little care and is great when used with other dry growing succulents or winter growing shrubs.

Senecio kleinia was introduced into cultivation prior to being scientifically described by James Garret of England in 1593. It was then called the African Tree Groundsel, though it actually originated from the Canary Islands, where it grows on rocky coastal slopes and ravines. The Danish botanist Johannes Eugenius Bülow Warming, whose work on the relations between living plants and their surroundings made him a founder of plant ecology, noted in his 1895 landmark work Oecology of Plants that "..these plants almost seem to live on air, yet they attain a considerable size; filled with sap they hang down in all their beauty from jagged rock, at first sight seeming to be purely superficial, but in reality sending their roots into crevices, and abstracting the water retained there by capillarity."

The name for the genus comes from the Latin word 'senex' meaning "old" or "old man" in reference to its downy head of seeds and the specific epithet is from the pre-Linnean name for plants in the genus Mesembryanthemum, which this plant superficially resembles and the specific epithet honors the German botanist Dr. Jacob Theodor Klein, but the most recent taxonomical treatment of this species has it reclassified as a Kleinia neriifolia, a name it was first used to scientifically described the plant by Adrian Hardy Haworth (for whom the genus Haworthia is named) in his Synopsis Plantarum Succulentarum in 1812, but was later described as Senecio kleinia by German botanist and Asteraceae specialist Christian Friedrich Lessing in 1831 with this specific epithet referring to the narrow leaves of the plant. Other common names include Canary Islands Candle Plant, Candle Plant, Mountain Grass and the Spanish Berode or Verode.

Though current treatment has this plant's valid name as Kleinia neriifolia, there remains some disagreement with this treatment, and we continue to list this plant as a Senecio so not to add to any confusion since many would still look for this plant as a Senecio species. Our plants are all cuttings from seedlings of plants we originally grew from seed collected from a shrubby specimen growing at Santa Barbara City College. 

This information about Senecio kleinia displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.