Ragwort – Beautiful or Scourge

One of the things I noticed when I first moved up to Fife, was the lack of the very common flower/weed. ragwort!

Personally I don’t mind the plant, it supports a reasonable amount of wildlife, but to farmers. it is a nightmare, as it is poisonous to horses and cattle – however, most horses and cows realise this and don’t eat it! They only end up suffering if the farmer cuts a field with ragwort in it, and gives the hay to the cattle as winter feed!

Back to my post, ragwort is definitely getting more common up here, the cinnabar moth is loving it!



Ragwort in hedgerow


Cinnabar Moth


7 thoughts on “Ragwort – Beautiful or Scourge

  1. Both the ragwort and the cinnabar moth are really pretty!! So it is a shame that the plant is poisonous to farm animals. But the wild animals were there first. It appears there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that if an animal survives ingesting a small amount of toxic natural substance, like say the Ragwort or a poisonous toad, it will learn and pass this information, epigenetically, via its DnA to it’s offspring so that the said offspring will naturally be averse to eating such plants. Nature is awesome!

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  2. Yes I thought it was illegal to have it growing on your land but whether it is now I really don;t know. The tiny islands off the south west coast and Wales used to give a summer holiday job to students to pull it u each year, but, as you say there is a lot of it about and it is interesting that horses and cattle avoid eating it but it attracts certain moths. There are two horses near us who are surrounded by ragwort and I was wondering what would happen when it goes to seed. They didn’t look happy!

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    • I’m sorry it has taken me so long to reply to you Diana. I’m not sure about it being illegal to have ragwort growing on your land, it is a very prolific wild flower/weed, and is certainly hard to get rid off once you get it! There are certainly some other pest plants around, that certainly should be made illegal, such as Japanese Knotweed, and the now dreaded Giant Hogweed.
      I think islands would be one of the few places where you might be able to get shot of it – it’s fascinating to know that they have employed students to do just that!

      Liked by 1 person

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