Online Encyclopedia

GROUNDSEL (Ger. Kreuzkraut; Fr. senecon)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 626 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GROUNDSEL (Ger. Kreuzkraut; Fr. senecon), Senecio vulgaris, an annual, glabrous, or more or less woolly plant of the natural order Compositae, having a branched succulent stem 6 to 15 in. in height, pinnatifid irregularly and coarsely-toothed leaves, and small cylindrical heads of yellow tubular florets enveloped in an involucre of numerous narrow bracts; the ribbed fruit bears a soft, feathery, hoary tuft of hairs (pappus). The plant is indigenous to Europe, whence it has been introduced into all temperate climates. It is a troublesome weed, flowering throughout the year, and propagating itself rapidly by means of its light feathery fruits; it has its use, however, as a food for cage-birds. Senecio Jacobaea, ragwort, is a showy plant with heads of bright yellow flowers, common in pastures and by roadsides. The genus Senecio is a very large one, widely distributed in temperate and cold climates. The British species are all herbs, but the genus also includes shrubs and even arborescent forms, which are characteristic features of the vegetation of the higher levels on the mountains of tropical Africa. Many species of the genus are handsome florists' plants. The groundsel tree, Baccharis halimifolia, a native of the North American sea-coast from Massachusetts southward, is a Composite shrub, attaining 6 to 12 ft. in height, and having angular branches, obovate or oblong-cuneate, somewhat scurfy leaves, and flowers larger than but similar to those of common groundsel. The long white pappus of the female plant renders it a conspicuous object in autumn. The groundsel tree has been cultivated in British gardens since 1683. The Old English word, represented by " groundsel," appears in two forms, grundeswylige and gundceswelgice; of the first form the accepted derivation is from grund, ground, and swelgau, to swallow; a weed of such rapid growth would not inaptly be styled a " ground-swallower." If the form without the r be genuine, the word might mean " pus-absorber " (O.E. gund, filth, matter), with reference to its use in poultices for abscesses and the like. GROUND-SQUIRREL, one of the names for a group of (chiefly) North American striped terrestrial squirrel-like rodents, m6re generally known as chipmunks. They are closely allied to squirrels, from which they are distinguished by the possession of cheek-pouches for the storage of food. The sides, or the sides and back, are marked with light stripes bordered by dark bands; the ears are small, and without tufts; and the tail is relatively short. With the exception of one Siberian species (Tamias asialicus), ground-squirrels are confined to North America,where they are represented by a large number of species and races, all referable to the genus Tamias. In North America ground-squirrels are migratory, and may be abundant in a district one year, and absent the next. They feed on nuts, beechmast, corn and roots, and also on grubs. With the assistance of their cheek-pouches they accumulate large supplies of food for the winter, during which season they lie dormant in holes. Although generally keeping to the ground, when hunted they take to trees, which they climb in search of food. One of the longest known American species is T. striates.
End of Article: GROUNDSEL (Ger. Kreuzkraut; Fr. senecon)
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