Reddish Vale Country Park
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Ragwort is a native biennial to perennial, common throughout Britain on waste ground and roadsides and as a weed of grazing land.
Ragwort is one of the most frequent causes of plant poisoning of livestock in Britain, Ragwort is also harmful to humans.
Each plant can produce up to 150,000 seeds with a 70% germination rate and the seeds can remain dormant in the ground for up to 20 years.
Grows to a height of 1.5m,
flowers June to October.
Ragwort contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids which are poisonous to horses and other farm animals such as sheep and cattle and also to wild animals such as hare and deer.
Ragwort has a bitter taste which often deters horses from eating it, however, if grass becomes sparse (e.g. following a period of hot dry weather) horses may resort to eating plants they wouldn't normally eat, including Ragwort if present.
Some horses develop a liking for the bitter taste and may choose to eat it even when there is sufficiant palatable grass available to graze on.
Symptoms of poisoning may include: loss of weight and condition; jaundice; photosensitive dermatitis; behavioural abnormalities; staggering gait; impaired vision; abdominal pain and convulsions.