Ragwort

Senecio jacobaea

About

The daisy-like, yellow flower heads of Common Ragwort may be pretty enough to the casual observer, but they belie the poisonous nature of this plant. Renowned as a weed of paddocks and pastures where it can be harmful to livestock, it is not usually such an issue in gardens or waste grounds. In fact, it is the foodplant of the black and red Cinnabar Moth: sometimes its black- and yellow-barred caterpillars cover the plant, totally stripping the leaves. Common Ragwort flowers from June to November.

How to identify

Common Ragwort is a biennial, flowering in its second year. It has clusters of yellow, flattened flower heads, and leaves that are much divided, almost looking feathery.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • Novermber

How can people help

Many of our so-called 'weeds' are beneficial to wildlife, providing food for nectar-loving insects and shelter for minibeasts. Try leaving wilder areas in your garden, such as patches of Common Ragwort and longer grasses in your lawn and Stinging Nettles near the compost heap, and see who comes to visit... To find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Ragwort
Latin name
Senecio jacobaea
Category
Wildflowers
Statistics
Height: up to 1m
Conservation status
Common.