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16 Aug 2012
Some say Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) is a pretty plant, a bright splash of colour in our countryside. It is native to the UK and part of our natural history providing a crucial role for biodiversity. More than thirty species of insect such as beetles and moths depend on the plant. The vivid pink cinnabar moth relies solely on Ragwort as a larval food source.
However it is poisonous to grazing animals and fatal to horses. The plant is bitter when alive but when the plant dies it looses its bitter taste but the poison remains. When consumed toxins from the plant damage the liver and can be very harmful to animals.
What to do if you have ragwort
The plant is classified under the Weed Act 1959. Natural England state that it is not an offence to have it growing on your property but action must be taken to prevent the spread of it to agricultural land. Ragwort seeds are very light and fluffy meaning with a little wind they can travel a long way, a single plant can produce 30,000 seeds. Ragwort is great for wildlife in your garden and so the best advice is to leave it alone unless you are near pasture land.