Q What is it:
A yellow flowered weed which grows on pasture, rough ground and disturbed land.
Q What are the concerns about Ragwort:
It is poisonous to animals that may eat it, including horses, and can cause them illness and death.
Q Is it illegal to have Ragwort on your land:
It is one of five "injurious weeds" and is included in the Weeds Act 1959 and Ragwort Control Act 2003. See the link to the DEFRA web site where the legal position is explained, and recommendations made for its management.
Q Is it always poisonous:
Yes. Whether Ragwort is growing in a field, or has been cut and left to dry, or if it becomes included in hay, it remains poisonous.
Q What should anyone with Ragwort on their land do about it:
Ragwort spreads easily by wind-borne seeds to nearby land, and therefore has the potential to spread, and cause illness or death to nearby animals. It is therefore important to keep an eye out for it during it's flowering period of June to August. If plants are found which could spread to grazing land, it must be eradicated.
Q What can I do to eradicate it from my land:
The link to the DEFRA web site above gives advice on this. It can be dug out (it has a tap root), pulled out when in flower, or weed killed. There is one weed killer (Citorella Oil) which does not come under the Pesticide Regulations, and may be applied without the need for a Pesticide Certificate. Please remember that any leaves etc left on a field are potentially poisonous, and gloves should be worn when handling the weed.
Q Why is it a special problem now:
Poor land management, and overgrazing of small fields is leading to an increase in ragwort.