- Jacobaea vulgaris
What’s the problem?
- Common ragwort is one of the five injurious plant species listed under the Weeds Act 1959.
- Contains toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
- Can cause poisoning to livestock if present in hay.
- Each plant can produce thousands of seeds.
- Seeds are dispersed by wind and require bare ground to germinate.
- Plants can spread quickly in areas of bare ground and where land is poorly managed or disturbed.
- Seeds can remain dormant in the soil for several years.
- Common ragwort provides an important food source for a large number of insects, bees, butterflies and moths.
- The plant is a biennial, the first years growth produces dense rosettes close to the ground.
- In the second year, the plant grows to 30 – 100cm in height, producing clusters of daisy like yellow flowers from June to November. Flower stems die back after producing seeds.
- Leaves are dark green in colours and strongly divided.
- If cut or mown, the plant acts as a perennial rather than biennial.
The Weeds Act 1959
- Under the Act, the Secretary of State may serve a notice on an occupier of any land on which the injurious weeds are growing, requiring the occupier to take action to prevent the weeds from spreading.
- The Act permits authorised officials to enter land to inspect whether an enforcement notice has been complied with.
- If an occupier has unreasonably failed to comply with the notice, they shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine.
- If the occupier of the land fails to take action, the Act allows for the weeds can be cleared and the costs recovered from the occupier/ owner, if necessary through the Courts.
The Ragwort Control Act 2003
- The Ragwort Control Act 2003 allowed for the production of the ‘Code of Practice’. This code of practice does not seek to eradicate ragwort but helps to prevent the spread of the plant onto land used for horses, livestock and forage production.
Responsibility to Control the Spread of Ragwort
The responsibility for the control of ragwort rests with the occupier of the land. It is expected that all landowners and occupiers will take responsibility to ensure the effective control of the spread of ragwort.
The code of Practice advises that the most effective way to prevent the spread of ragwort is to preclude its establishment through the strategic management rather than last minute control.
Action should be taken to prevent its spread when ragwort poses a high risk to land used for grazing or forage production. The Code of Practice outlines 3 categories; high, medium or low as guidelines for assessing the risk.
- High Risk – Ragwort is present and flowering/seeding within 50m of land used for grazing or forage production. Immediate action to control the ragwort must be taken.
- Medium Risk – Ragwort is present and flowering/seeding within 50m to 100m of the land used for grazing or for forage production. In this case, the occupier must put together an action plan and control policy.
- Low Risk – Ragwort is present and flowering/seeding from land used 100m from land used for grazing or forage production. Although no immediate action to control the ragwort needs to be taken, the distances above are only used as guidelines for assessing the risk. At JKSL, our surveyors are fully trained at assessing risk and factoring all the relevant circumstances such as topography, natural barriers, vegetation etc.