Common Ragwort - Hebrides Wildflowers
Marsh Ragwort - and common ragwort - are to be seen all over the Western Isles.
Marsh Ragwort (Senecio Aquatics) differs from common ragwort as it is a little bushier and more widely branched with larger flowers and lobes to the leaves.
The leaves of the common ragwort are quite distinctly shape they are finely divided leaves with a basal rosette of deeply-cut, toothed leaves.
It flowers from mid to late summer in damp marshy grassland areas in the Hebrides. This native plant belongs to the family Asteraceae.
Insects - Butterflies - Wildlife
Insects and butterflies simply love these yellow wildflowers
There are at least thirty species of invertebrates which are totally dependent on ragwort as a food source. T
here are many other species which require its nectar and pollen.
Loss of Habitat for Wildlife
Loss of habitat in general is a real problem for wildlife in the UK.
It is recorded that moth numbers have declined by over a third over the last 30 years and a major cause of this is habitat loss.
Ragwort is a well known perennial wildflower - growing to 1m in height - a mass of leafy stems with clusters of yellow daisy like flowers. Each individual flower (15-25mm across) has many spreading ray florets and a centre of disc florets. Behind the corolla are black-tipped, overlapping bracts
Classed as Weeds
It is hard to believe - but these pretty wildflowers - are really weeds - seen all over the Western Isles. It is listed under the Noxious Weeds Act 1936 Ragworts natural habitat is sand dunes - however it is prevalent nowadays on almost any damp grassland. and is often seen at roadsides.
Common Names and Fairies
Ragwort has gathered over the ages plenty of "common names" by which it is known - Bowlocks, Devildrums, Dog-stalk, Stinking Nanny, Stinking-Davies, to name but a few. It has associations with "fairies" - especially in the Scottish Highlands and Islands
Habitat of Ragwort
Ragwort is very common on grassland, wasteland, roadsides and dunes. There are places on the islands where you can see great masses of this wildflower, particularly at Garry, Isle of Lewis on the dunes where you are looking down towards the sea..
Effects on Bats and Birds
This also had an effect on other creatures such as bats and birds which use the insects as food, so it is especially good that we can readily see this plant, the ragwort, growing here in The Western Isles
Poisonous to Horses - Not to Sheep
Birds may eat the ragworts seeds but the seeds are rarely found in bird droppings.
Seeds that are eaten by sheep pass through the digestive system undamaged. Unfortunately this is not so for horses to whom the plant is highly poisonous.
Ragwort is deep rooting and can regenerate from its roots. Seeds from the florets are carried by the wind usually - however in wet weather the seed heads stay closed and the seeds are not shed.
Ragwort seeds may also be dispersed by water. The seeds float to begin with - then sink but float again as they begin to germina
Protected By The Wildlife and Countryside Act
One healthy ragworrt plant (Senecio jacobaea) can produce thousands of seeds borne, like those of the Dandelion clock, on the wind to destinations far and wide.
|Inches and cm sizes are approximate|