Ragworts are poisonous weeds of which Senecio jacobaea is the most common. It can become a major weed of waste or other uncultivated ground.
Ragwort is a tall erect plant to 90cm (3ft) bearing large flat-topped clusters of yellow daisy-like flowers from July to October. It has finely divided leaves with a basal rosette of deeply-cut, toothed leaves.
The plant is usually a biennial (living only two years and flowering in its second year) but damage to the base of the plant can make the plant behave like a perennial (living indefinitely), as new rosettes are formed.
Ragwort is rarely a problem in gardens but may occur in pony paddocks, railway embankments and areas of unimproved pasture. Cattle and horses are particularly susceptible to poisoning. Cutting, wilting and the treatment with herbicides make ragwort more palatable to livestock and poisoning mainly arises from eating contaminated hay.
Common ragwort produces large numbers of seeds which are dispersed by the wind.
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 (which amends the Weeds Act 1959), imposes a duty of responsibility on landowners to effectively control Senecio jacobaea, preventing its spread onto grazing land.
If you suspect you have Ragwort on your property, call Weedtec on 0845 224 9941.