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Monday, 13 August 2012


As seen recently on your television screens during the Olympic road cycling race through Surrey, this pretty daisy flowered plant, Jacobaea vulgaris, is an invasive weed in several parts of the world but is native to the UK where it:

provides a home and food source to at least 77 insect species. Thirty of these species of invertebrate use Ragwort exclusively as their food source and there are another 22 species where Ragwort forms a significant part of their diet.
Furthermore, English Nature identify a further 117 species who use Ragwort as a nectar source whilst travelling between feeding and breeding sites, or between metapopulations. These consist mainly of solitary bees, hoverflies, moths, and butterflies such as the Small Copper.
Of the 30 species that specifically feed on Ragwort alone, seven are officially deemed Nationally Scarce. A further three species are on the IUCN Red List. In short, Ragwort is an exclusive food source for ten rare or threatened insect species, including the Picture Winged Fly (Campiglossa malaris), the Scarse Clouded Knot Horn micro moth (Homocosoma nimbella), and the Sussex Emerald micro moth (Thalera fimbrialis).
Without doubt the most common of those species that are totally reliant on Ragwort for their survival is the Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae). The Cinnabar is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan Species, its status described as common and widespread but rapidly declining. Which gives yet more evidence of Ragwort’s important role in maintaining the country’s biodiversity and a vitally important component of the native flora.

Despite this, ragwort is listed as an injurious weed under the provisions of the Weeds Act 1959, and has a specific act of parliament devoted to it, the Ragwort Control Act 2003 (which provides for a “code of practice” on ragwort). The reason is that the plant is poisonous and poses a danger to horses and other livestock, especially in dried form (e.g. in hay) when they are more likely to ingest it.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has Guidance on the disposal options for common ragwort. Surrey County Council also provides advice to landowners on managing ragwort. It is important to remeber that although ragwort can be a nuisance to horse owners, eradication of the plant is not a desirable option due to its environmental benefits.

See also: ragwort facts and it’s illegal to uproot ragwort in the wild.

Posted by bigblue on 13/08/2012 at 08:28 PM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (1) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share

The local paper has started to get alarmist about ragwort.

Posted by bigblue  on  12/09/2012  at  08:11 PM

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