This common plant with bright yellow flowers was rated in the UK top ten for nectar production and thus plays an important role for Otley pollinators. It has a lengthy flowering period from June to November, and can produce up to 120,000 seeds, though only a tiny proportion are successful. Ragwort has been identified as home and food source to 77 UK insects, 30 of which use it exclusively as their food source. Ten of the latter are rare or threatened – it really is crucial to our ecology. The leaves don’t smell good, giving rise to alternative names such as Stinking Willie and Mare’s Fart, and its bitter taste means that although Ragwort is toxic to horses and cattle, poisonings are rare. We’ve mentioned before the reliance the caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth have on Ragwort, and in some countries the moth is used to control the plant.
Photos by Pixabay and Neil Griffin