Common ragwort

Common Ragwort

©Philip Precey

Small Copper butterfly on Common Ragwort

Small Copper on Ragwort ©Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Common ragwort

Scientific name: Senecio jacobaea
A renowned 'weed' of paddocks, pastures and waste ground, the yellow flower heads of common ragwort are actually highly attractive to bees and other insects, including the cinnabar moth.

Species information


Height: up to 1m

Conservation status


When to see

June to November


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 on waste ground. 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 is a biennial, flowering in its second year from June to November.

How to identify

Common ragwort is a relatively tall-growing plant that has clusters of yellow, flattened flower heads, and leaves that look 'feathery' because they are very divided.



Did you know?

Common ragwort is one of the most frequently visited flowers by butterflies in the UK and more than 200 species of invertebrate have been recorded on it.

How people can help

Our gardens are a vital resource for wildlife, providing corridors of green space between open countryside, allowing species to move about. In fact, the UK's gardens provide more space for nature than all the National Nature Reserves put together. So why not try leaving wilder areas in your garden, such as patches of buttercups in your lawn or nettles near your compost heap, to see who comes to visit? To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.