As the specific name vulgaris implies, there is nothing unusual about Groundsel; but even for this opportunistic bloomer, there is something unusual about seeing flowers and ripe seeds in early February. Groundsel can take advantage of a very brief break in the weather to bloom, and the warm winter this year has given it the chance to burst into bloom all over.
Gray describes the genus and the species—but we should not take what he says about the blooming season too seriously.
SENECIO [Tourn.] L. Groundsel. Ragwort. Squaw-weed. Heads many-flowered; rays pistillate or none; involucre cylindrical to bellshaped, simple or with a few bractlets at the base, the bracts erect-connivent. Receptacle flat, naked. Pappus of numerous very soft and capillary bristles.— Ours herbs, with alternate leaves and solitary or corymbed heads. Flowers chiefly yellow. (Name from senex, an old man, alluding to the hoariness of many species, or to the white hairs of the pappus.)
Annuals (rarely becoming biennial); stems leafy to the Inflorescence; heads medium-sized, 1 сш. or less high during anthesis.
S. vulgàris L. (Common Groundsel.) Low annual, 1-6 dm. high. corymbosely branched, glabrate, leafy to the inflorescence; leaves pinnatifid and toothed, 1-8 cm. long, 0.6-3 cm. broad; calyculate bracts (bracteoles) of the involucre distinctly black-tipped; rays none; achenes hirtellous. — Waste grounds, common. July-Sept. (Nat. from Eu.)