Information on Common Ragwort

Common Name: Common Ragwort
Scientific Name: Senecio jacobaea
Irish Name: Buachalán buí
Family Group: Asteraceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Common Ragwort is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


Listed under the Noxious Weeds Act 1936 are several wild plants. Among these is Common Ragwort or Ragweed which is a well-known perennial throughout the country.  It grows in grassland where it gives a superb, if unwelcome, blaze of gold from June to November. The plants can grow to 1m high, bearing dense, flat-topped clusters of bright yellow flowers.  Each individual flower (15-25mm across) has between 12 and 24 spreading ray florets and a centre of disc florets. Behind the corolla are black-tipped, overlapping bracts. The dark-green leaves are deeply pinnatifid with toothed segments.  This plant contains alkaloid poisons which could cause liver damage in cattle and horses, which is the reason for its inclusion on the Noxious Weeds listing.  There is also a variety which grows in coastal districts and which does not have ray florets, pictured on this page being visited by a Six-Spot Burnet. This native plant belongs to the family Asteraceae.   

I first identified this plant in Derrynane, Co Kerry in 1976 and photographed it in Gibletstown, Co Wexford in 2007.  The rayless version was identified and photographed in Kilmore Quay, Co Wexford in 2007. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Ragwort, Common
Ragwort, Common

' The following has been used in our family for at least one hundred years, carried on from generation to generation by the women of the family.  The leaves of the Buachallán are cut up and boiled for an hour, all the others (Fresh butter, hog's lard, Beeswax, Stockholm tar, Resin, Soap) are added to them and the whole boiled until thick and applied as a poultice.' 

 From the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin. NFC 128:231. Co Cork.

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 'Ragwort thou humble flower with tattered leaves
I love to see thee come and litter gold'.

John Clare    c.1835.