Description from Flora of China
Senecio japonicus Thunberg in Murray, Syst. Veg., ed. 14, 756. 1784; Cacalia pinnatifida Loureiro; C. segetum Loureiro; Gynura aurita C. Winkler; G. flava Hayata; G. japonica var. flava (Hayata) Kitamura; G. pinnatifida (Loureiro) Candolle; G. segetum (Loureiro) Merrill; G. vaniotii H. Léveillé; Kleinia japonica (Thunberg) Lessing.
Herbs, perennial, high and robust, 60-100 cm or taller. Roots thick, tuberiform, 3-4 cm in diam., with numerous fibrous roots. Stems erect, basally woody, ca. 15 mm in diam., conspicuously canaliculate, crisped-pubescent when young, glabrescent, much branched, branchlets ascending. Basal leaves often withered and shedding by anthesis. Basal and lower leaves smaller, elliptic, simple to lyrate-pinnatilobed, terminal lobe large. Median leaves long or shortly petiolate, large; petiole basally rounded, dentate or pinnatilobate, auriculate, semiamplexicaul; blade abaxially green or becoming purplish, adaxially green, elliptic or oblong-elliptic, 10-30 × 8-15 cm, adpressed pilose or subglabrous, pinnatipartite; terminal lobe large, obovate or oblong to oblong-lanceolate; lateral lobes (4-)6-12-paired, elliptic or oblong to oblong-linear, 1.5-5 × 0.5-2(-2.5) cm, margin unequally coarsely dentate or sharply serrate, incised, rarely entire, apex acute or acuminate. Upper leaves smaller, pinnatilobate, gradually reduced to bractiform leaves upward. Capitula numerous, 1.5-1.8 cm in diam., terminal, corymbose-paniculate; peduncles 1-3(-6) cm, slender, shortly pubescent; bracts 1-3, linear. Involucres narrowly campanulate or campanulate, 10-15 × 8-15 mm; bracts of calyculus 9-11, linear; phyllaries uniseriate, 13, linear-lanceolate, 10-15 × 1-1.5 mm, glabrous or sparsely hairy, margin scarious, apically acuminate. Florets 50-100; corolla yellow or orange, 13-15 mm; tube 10-12 mm, slender, dilated above; lobes ovate, apically acute. Anthers obtuse at base. Style branches with conical papillose appendages. Achenes brownish, cylindric, 4-5 mm, puberulent, 10-ribbed. Pappus white, silky, easily deciduous. Fl. Aug-Oct.
The roots are used in Chinese medicine.
Valleys, grassy slopes, forests, forest margins; 1200-3000 m. Anhui, Fujian, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Japan, Nepal, Thailand].