RAGWORT (Senecio sp.)

Ragwort near the old Great Central Railway Line

Common Ragwort (S. Jacobaea), with its cheerful yellow daisy flowers, is quite a pretty plant, and it has even been known to be sold as a cut flower under the name of "Summer gold". However, it is lethal to horses - although apparently not to other grazing animals - and much time and trouble is spent in eradicating it from horse pastures. It is found in dry grassy places, and nowadays in set-aside fields, as shown in the photographs. Its near relative, Oxford Ragwort (S. Squalidus), is not a native; it was introduced from southern Italy in the eighteenth century into the Oxford Botanic Garden, from which its fluffy seeds escaped and were carried along the Great Western Railway lines into many areas of southern Britain. It is more likely to be found in urban areas. The most common member of the family to be found in Sulgrave is Groundsel (S. Vulgaris), familiar to all gardeners.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey
and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

Notes by George Metcalfe. Photos by Colin Wootton.