What is ragwort?

(Senecio jacobaea)                           Print PDF image
Ragwort rosette, Photo D. ElliottGeneric Weed Distribution Map
  • Ragwort is a serious pasture weed.
  • Ragwort is a declared weed under the Tasmanian Weed Management Act 1999. The importation, sale and distribution of ragwort are prohibited in Tasmania.

How to identify ragwort

  • Ragwort lives for two years if left undisturbed. Most seed germination occurs in autumn, and the plant forms a rosette (in its first year a cluster of leaves close to the ground), and in its second year an erect plant up to 1.5 m in height with convoluted dark green leaves and bright yellow flowers. The flowers are formed at the end of small branchlets resulting in a characteristic flat-topped flower arrangement.
  • When growing in pasture, ragwort often lives for more than 2 years due to damage to the plant from stock hooves, grazing and cutting. When plants are damaged, new shoots are produced from the original stem or from larger roots left in the ground. These damaged plants can produce large bushes of many flowering stems, and flower multiple times over several years.
  • For help in identifying ragwort, search the Dennis Morris Weeds and Endemic Flora database. If you are still in doubt about the weed you are dealing with, contact your Regional Weed Management Officer on 1300 368 550 for help.
Paddock infested with ragwort, photo S. LeightonFlowering ragwort, Photo T. Rudman
Image top: Ragwort rosette, photo: D. Elliott.
Images above, left to right: Paddock infested with ragwort, photo: S. Leighton; Flowering ragwort, photo: T. Rudman.

Ragwort in Tasmania

  • Ragwort is widely distributed throughout the grazing areas of Tasmania, with the exception of the Midlands where it occurs only in small patches (see map). Ragwort also occurs on the shores of several lakes on the Central Plateau, and along roadsides in many areas of the state. The heaviest infestations occur on poorly managed pastures.
  • Ragwort is a serious pasture weed in Tasmania. Ragwort plants are extremely competitive, and competition from ragwort causes a significant reduction in pasture production. Ragwort is also poisonous to most types of livestock. Stock losses due to ragwort poisoning can occur where stock are forced to graze ragwort due to food shortages.

What is the legal status of ragwort in your area?

Detailed management and control guidelines for ragwort can be found in the Ragwort Control Guide. Refer also to Herbicides for Ragwort Control. For further information see DPIPWE's Useful Resources: Weeds.

See also
Ragwort Control Guide
Herbicides for Ragwort Control
Statutory Management Plan for Ragwort
Weed links and resources

Other useful links
Pest Genie

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