Wildflowers – Common Ragwort

This common yellow coloured wildflower adds colour to fields and paddocks across most of Europe.

Common ragwort
Common ragwort

It’s a relatively tall plant that can grow to 2m in height. It has the unfortunate nickname of Mares Fart due to the unpleasant smell from the leaves.

Their seeds are spread by wind and a single plant is capable of producing 50 – 60 000 seeds.

The seeds are blown by the wind making ragwort a major weed of waste or other uncultivated ground.

Seeds buried deeper than 4 cm in soil can remain dormant for over 16 years. However, seeds in the upper layer of soil die within 4-6 years and seeds in cultivated soil persist for less than 4 years.

Ragwort seeds
Ragwort seeds

The leaves are poisonous however cattle and horses rarely eat them as they have a bitter taste. If the leaves are eaten in large quantities they can cause dangerous liver conditions and can be (but are rarely) fatal.

Removal of the plant by mowing only causes the roots to grow stronger. Pulling the whole plant out by the roots before it sets seeds is much more effective but isn’t practical on a large scale.

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