For those of us familiar with the feathery, strikingly silver foliage of dusty millers, or Jacobaea maritima, this is not it! Please take a look at this coarse-textured relative, Senecio candicans 'Senaw' (PP28,830). Confused? I would not blame you. One of the most commonly found silver foliage species found in nurseries is Senecio cineraria, also known as dusty miller. However, S. cineraria has indeed changed names, and when that occurs, it takes a long time for nurseries (and designers alike) to accept the change. While Senecio cineraria is now Jacobaea maritima, it is unclear if our winged angel will be subject to the same revision.
I have little personal information to share about this species, as this is the first time I encountered it and adopted a specimen for my garden. Like its sibling dusty miller, Angel Wings® Senecio is great for container gardens, apparently maxing out at no more then two fee high and wide. Both species are grown for their foliage, which contrasts wonderfully with other plants, however they both bloom with yellow flowers that may or may not be desirable. When I have grown dusty miller, I would cut off the flowers to promote more dense foliage. Due to their foliage color, designers might use these in night gardens, or what others refer to as moon gardens. Paired with purple, black or dark green foliage would make a statement on its own!
The specimen shown above was planted adjacent to our native Asclepias californica, which has a long dormancy. Since the Asclepias has gray foliage, the idea is to use our angel as a filler, and the combination in summer should also be attractive. I will add a photo of the combination should this planting scheme work. Currently, as it is late spring, the Asclepias is just barely coming out of its slumber.
If the above two species are not confusing enough, take a look at this North Carolina State University presentation by Laura Barth introducing viewers to a broader spectrum. Many will grow here in California, depending on where the plant will be located, other outdoors or indoors/protected area.
Botanical Name: Senecio candicans 'Senaw' (PP28,830)
Senecio: Latin, senex, for old man for the bristles surrounding the white fruit (I can identify). However, we should take a look at a lengthier description of this particular plant's name referenced by San Marcos Growers for a little more context.
Common Name: Angel Wings® Senecio
Family Name: Asteraceae
Garden Themes: Cottage, rock, Mediterranean/dry
Uses: Border, specimen, accent, mass, edging
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Form: Round, mound
Size: 18" tall and 18" wide
Outstanding Feature(s): Foliage
Stem: Silver becoming dull gray with age, fleshy
Color: Silver gray, white
Flower: Unremarkable yellow clusters, appearing as the center of a daisy without ray petals
Fruit: Gray achene, usually removed before maturing
cultural requirements, tolerances & problems
Sunset Zones: 4-24
USDA Zones: 8-11
Light: Sun to partial shade
WUCOLS SF Bay Area Hydro Zone: Not listed, however, low water use
Texture: Sand, loam
Moisture Retention: Dry between watering, well-drained
pH: Unknown at time of posting
Tolerances: Drought, salt, wind
Problems: North Carolina State University Extension notes problem for dogs, cats, and horses but does not state reasoning. The video above mentions the plants toxicity. Slugs, snails
Branch Strength: Pliable when young
Insects: Unknown at time of posting
citations & attributions
Bayton, R. (2019). The Royal Horticultural Society's the Gardener's Botanical: An Encyclopedia of Latin Plant Names. London: Mitchell Beazley.
Extension Gardener: "Senecio candicans 'Angel Wings'." North Carolina State University, Raleigh. Accessed on April 25, 2022, from https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/senecio-candicans-angel-wings/.
With plant label: "190908 034 Chicago Botanic Gdn - Crescent Garden, Euphorbia graminea 'Glitz', Senecio candicans Angel Wings® Dusty Miller, Pentas Butterfly™ White, Verbena Aztec™ White" by cultivar413 is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).
Feature photo by TELCS.