Fairly strong words about a plant that produces pretty yellow flowers but ragwort (Senecio lacobaea) is extremely dangerous to humans and animals.
The toxic properties in ragwort are made up of several different pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are all poisonous to horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, dogs and human beings and there is no known treatment for ragwort poisoning.
Ragwort is easy to recognise when growing. The plant produces a rosette of green ragged edge leaves in May, then grows into a 3′ upright plant with woody slightly red stems. It produces a large head of bright yellow flowers with a daisy like petal in late July/August.
We can prevent the risks of poisoning of our animals, if we all work together to clear ragwort from our beautiful county. Before ragwort flowers it responds well to spraying with a herbicide. Once it flowers all plants must then be pulled up and put into sacks and incinerated before it is allowed to seed. ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES WHEN HANDLING RAGWORT.
The British Horse Society is organising a major ragwort clearance programme across Oxfordshire this summer. This is a project that any one can help with, whether it is advising us of areas where you have found ragwort growing or simply pulling up the plants as you find them while out walking. To do that all you will need is your gloves and a bag to put the plant into, it’s as simple as that!