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Featured Plant

Telanthophora grandifolia


Scientific Name: Telanthophora grandifolia

Common Names: Giant Groundsel

Family: Asteraceae

Plant Type: Perennial shrub

Environment: Semi-shade inland, full sun near the coast. Moderate water.

Bloom: Blooms repeatedly throughout the year

Uses: Large screening plant with a tropical look. Attracts bees and butterflies.

Other: Big Leaves for Exotic Effects, Stephen Griffith, Sterling 2003
The range of Telanthophora species in Central America
Mesoamerican Plant Diversity and Conservation


Telanthophora grandifolia is located southern edge of the great meadow in the Meso-American Cloud Forest Garden (Bed 14).



Telanthophora grandifolia

In Guatemala and north to the neighboring province of Chiapas in Mexico, are tropical forests on 3000-5000-foot mountain tops, where elevation, high humidity, long days of daylight and mild temperatures combine to create a unique ecosystem. There, certain plants in their struggle for sunlight are transformed from small herbs to tree-like specimens, developing huge leaves, large flowers and woody trunks.

Giant Groundsel, in the Mesoamerican Cloud Forest at the southern edge of the great meadow, is an example of the effects of this environment. The dinner-plate-sized golden flower clusters, 15 inch oval–shaped leaves, and 12–foot trunks are a remarkable alteration of a familiar if inconspicuous wildflower. The common groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) is found in sunny meadows worldwide, and grows 12 inches high at the most, with yellow flower heads and small leaves.

We have created our own cloud forests in the Botanical Garden. With the help of fog and our mild Bay Area climate, we are able to approximate conditions for plants far away from their native homes.


Joanne Taylor and Kathy McNeil, Profile Contributor: Fred Bové, Additional photos provided by SFBG visitor Eric Hunt.


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