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Ragwort (Seneciojacobaea) is not usually a cause for concern in gardens, but like Giant Hogweed, its poisonous qualities can make it a serious problem. It is an invasive plant that can grow in paddocks and gardens, especially when these areas back onto fields grazed by horses or cattle; it is in this situation that the weed becomes an issue.

Ragworts are poisonous weeds, and of all the variations of Ragwort that can be found, Seneciojacobaea is the most common. It is a tall, erect plant that can grow to 90cm (3ft), and bears large, flat-topped clusters of yellow daisy-like flowers between July and October. It has finely divided leaves with a basal rosette of deeply-cut, toothed leaves, making it very distinguishable. Common Ragwort produces large numbers of seeds which are dispersed by the wind.

This distinct type of invasive plant is a biennial, meaning that it only lives two years, and flowers in its second year. However, damage to the base of the plant can make the plant behave in a perennial way, meaning it lives indefinitely, even as new rosettes are formed.

Ragwort isn’t usually a problem in gardens, but it may grow in pony paddocks, on railway embankments, and areas of unimproved pasture. Cattle and horses are particularly susceptible to poisoning. Cutting, wilting, and treatment with herbicides will only make Ragwort more palatable to livestock. Poisoning mainly arises from livestock eating contaminated hay.

The Weeds Act specifies five injurious weeds: Common Ragwort, Spear Thistle, Creeping or Field Thistle, Broad-leaved Dock and Curled Dock. The Ragwort Control Act 2003 says that landowners have a duty of responsibility to effectively control the Seneciojacobaea type of Ragwort, to prevent its spread onto nearby grazing land.

If you suspect you have Ragwort on your property, call Weedtecof Greater Manchester on 0800 195 8625. Weedtec specialise in the removal of invasive plants like Japanese Knotweed, dangerous plants like Giant Hogweed, and weeds that can be both, like particular types of Ragwort. It’s vital to rid your land of this type of Ragwort before its seeds can spread; if you believe that you may have Ragwort growing on your property, call for a free survey as soon as possible.

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