Has anyone else noticed the quantity of ragwort around this year?

It’s not just the rate it’s growing in the fields, and the eternity it seems to take field owners and horse owners to remove the stuff, but it’s the growing number of the weed I am seeing in people’s gardens.

Perhaps the everyday people of Berkshire don’t know the name of the tall, yellow flower that decorates their garden, but surely the acrid smell of the plant should put you off encouraging it’s growth. Personally I’ve never found the narrow leaved plant very attractive …

Did you know that there is actually a Weeds Act int the UK which meantions ragwort specifically? Landowners, if ordered, must manage the ragwort on their land, and prevent the spread of the weed. I previously thought, before researching for this, that it was an automatic assumption that everyone was responsible for preventing the spread of ragwort otherwise they could be found to be breaking the law, but the Act actually only gives power to the Big Wigs to order people to remove ragwort from their land.

So perhaps there needs to be more education to everybody about harmful weeds and controlling them. Japanese knotweed and bindweed could be included as well as ragwort (the man who lived in my house before us liked the pretty white flowers of bindweed so planted them in the gardens … I’m still pulling the stuff out by the armful!). Not only do the general public need to be more aware of the risk of ragwort to horses and indeed humans and other animals, so that they do no let ragwort grow at the back of their garden, against a paddock fence, or offer it to a horse, but perhaps authorities should be more proactive in enforcing the Weeds Act, or even removing ragwort from their land – I’m sure you’ve all seen ragwort along the central reservation of motorways.

The BHS run annual ragwort surveys, and the results are not that pleasant – however they are biased in that their target audience are prejudiced against ragwort, and perhaps more aware of its presence than the average Briton, but results still say that many people do not know how to report the presence of ragwort on land that is not their own, which results in nothing being done to combat the weed.

It would be quite interesting to see how the results would differ if a sample of the whole population were included in the survey. Here is the link to their website – http://www.bhs.org.uk/ragwort

Really, I guess we should look at the equestrian population to educate the rest of Britain, and to be more proactive in telling their neighbour that the two cluster of yellow plants at the back of their garden are actually toxic and should be controlled. On a larger scale, perhaps we should have more confidence in reporting the presence of ragwort to the authorities so that the Weed Act is enforced – but who do you contact? I don’t know. But I will find out.

But then we can be just as much to blame because we walk past the little rosette of ragwort daily, yet don’t pull it up for three weeks, which gives it plenty of time to grow strong roots and spread. Or we see that little clump of yellow flowers on the fence line, let don’t go and get out our ragwort forks until it is shoulder high and the circumference of a barrel. So surely we should set a better example and ensure our fields are free from the weed before becoming a Moaning Myrtle and getting on our high horses about the townsfolk with a plant in their front garden.  It’s a lengthy and arduous process, but like anything, keeping on top of it makes the job much more manageable and means we can rest in peace that our horses’ livers are safe.

If, on the other hand you wish to read about the positive effects that ragwort has on British wildlife and the country side, then try this site – The Society of Ragwort Fanatics 



8 thoughts on “Ragwort

  1. Sue Bebbington July 20, 2015 / 8:44 pm

    The Ragwort Code of Practice outlines legal aspects and landowner/occupier responsibilities. Also outlines how to assess where ragwort poses a risk and where it can be left for invertebrates.Quite a long document but interesting bedtime reading! https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/69264/pb9840-cop-ragwort.pdf
    BHS website also has information on who to contact if ragwort is causing problems – varies depending on where in the UK you live.

  2. firnhyde July 21, 2015 / 6:51 am

    Amazingly enough, we have this annoying stuff down here in South Africa, too. Hate it. It is extremely toxic to cattle and goats – even more so than to horses – and we lost a couple before we learned our lesson. Interestingly enough, while calves and goats are stupid enough to eat the stuff, cows will only touch it if they don’t have a choice.

    • Sue Bebbington July 21, 2015 / 7:34 am

      Toxicity of ragwort to different species does vary and even within ‘resistant’ species younger animals can still be susceptible. Most animals will leave it when it’s a growing mature plant but it can be eaten as smaller seedlings especially if it’s in lush grass – some animals simply get a taste for it. Best to keep it well away from grazing and hay.

    • therubbercurrycomb July 24, 2015 / 5:50 pm

      ooh I didn`t know it was toxic to goats. Our goats are stupid enough to eat it.
      That nanny goat I blogged about a month or so ago was stupid enough to take her twins back to the field with the ponies a week later and unfortunately I wasn`t there to play Heidi and there`s now only one kid 😦

      • firnhyde July 24, 2015 / 5:53 pm

        Oh no! Daft goat 😦 So sad 😦

      • therubbercurrycomb July 24, 2015 / 5:54 pm

        I was actually gutted 😦 I wanted to take the other kid away as at least I knew it would be safe in my house with my kitten 🙂

      • firnhyde July 24, 2015 / 5:54 pm

        We dosed them with charcoal and some kind of copper compound, which worked well on the mild cases.

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