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Fen Ragwort

Senecio paludosus

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, Alpine Fleabane, Alpine Saw-wort, Annual Ragweed, Annual Sunflower, Argentine Fleabane, Autumn Hawkbit, Autumn Oxeye, Beaked Hawksbeard, Beggarticks, Bilbao Fleabane, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad-leaved Cudweed, Broad-leaved Ragwort, Brown Knapweed, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Cabbage Thistle, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Chamois Ragwort, Changing Michaelmas Daisy, Chicory, Chinese Mugwort, Chinese Ragwort, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Cudweed, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Common Wormwood, Coneflower, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Cotton Thistle, Cottonweed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy Bush, Dwarf Cudweed, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Eastern Groundsel, Eastern Leopardsbane, Elecampane, English Hawkweed, Feverfew, Field Fleawort, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, French Tarragon, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Giant Butterbur, Glabrous-headed Hawkweed, Glandular Globe-thistle, Glaucous Michaelmas Daisy, Globe Artichoke, Globe-thistle, Goat's Beard, Golden Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Goldilocks Aster, Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Great Lettuce, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Guernsey Fleabane, Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, Hairless Leptinella, Hairy Michaelmas Daisy, Harpur Crewe's Leopardsbane, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Heath Cudweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Highland Cudweed, Hoary Mugwort, Hoary Ragwort, Hybrid Knapweed, Intermediate Burdock, Irish Fleabane, Jersey Cudweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lance-leaved Hawkweed, Lavender-cotton, Leafless Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Leopardplant, Leopardsbane, Leptinella, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Lesser Sunflower, London Bur-marigold, Magellan Ragwort, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Thistle, Meadow Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Milk Thistle, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, New Zealand Holly, Nipplewort, Nodding Bur-marigold, Northern Hawksbeard, Norwegian Mugwort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pearly Everlasting, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Ragweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Perennial Sunflower, Pineapple Mayweed, Plantain-leaved Leopardsbane, Ploughman's Spikenard, Plymouth Thistle, Pontic Blue Sow-thistle, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Coltsfoot, Rayed Tansy, Red Star Thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Red-tipped Cudweed, Robin's Plantain, Roman Chamomile, Rough Cocklebur, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Russian Lettuce, Safflower, Salsify, Saw-wort, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shrub Ragwort, Sicilian Chamomile, Silver Ragwort, Slender Mugwort, Slender Thistle, Small Cudweed, Small Fleabane, Smooth Cat's-ear, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Spotted Hawkweed, Sticky Groundsel, Stinking Chamomile, Stinking Hawksbeard, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Tansy, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White Butterbur, White Buttons, Willdenow's Leopardsbane, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Wood Ragwort, Woody Fleabane, Woolly Thistle, Yarrow, Yellow Chamomile, Yellow Fox and Cubs, Yellow Oxeye, Yellow Star Thistle, Yellow Thistle, York Groundsel
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
80 centimetres tall
Ditches, fens, floodplains, marshes, meadows, riversides, roadsides, waterside, wetland.

Yellow, many petals
Flowers appear in clusters and are bright yellow and daisy-like. The flower have between 12 and 20 petals and measure about 3cm across.
The fruit is an achene with a pappus at one end.
This is a Ragwort with very distinctive leaves. They are stalkless, long and linear with slightly serrated or saw-toothed margins. The leaves are downy white beneath and clasp their stems. Erect stems. Perennial.
Other Names:
Bird's Tongue, Marsh Groundsel.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Senecio paludosus, also known as Marsh groundsel, is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family (Asteraceae). It is native to North America, typically found in wetland habitats, like marshes, fens and wet meadows, and along stream banks and ditches. It has small yellow flowers that bloom in late summer and fall, and leaves which are basal and lobed, with a smooth texture. It is a perennial herb that forms colonies and can be invasive in some regions, it can be found in many parts of North America, including Canada and the United States, and some parts of Mexico.


Fen Ragwort, also known as Senecio paludosus, is a species of flowering plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. It is native to North America and is commonly found in wetlands, meadows, and along the edges of streams and ponds. This plant is known for its unique physical characteristics, medicinal properties, and ecological importance.

Physical Characteristics

Fen Ragwort is a perennial herb that can grow up to 80 cm in height. Its leaves are green, oblong, and have toothed edges. The plant's stems are also green and hairy, and its flowers are bright yellow and bloom from May to August. The flowers are composed of numerous small, tubular flowers that form a large, flat-topped cluster at the top of the stem. The plant's seeds are small, brown, and have a pappus, a fluffy structure that aids in seed dispersal.

Medicinal Properties

Fen Ragwort has been traditionally used by Native Americans for medicinal purposes. It is believed to have diuretic, emetic, and expectorant properties. The plant contains alkaloids, flavonoids, and terpenoids that are responsible for its medicinal properties. It has been used to treat various ailments, including urinary tract infections, bronchitis, and digestive disorders.

Ecological Importance

Fen Ragwort is an important plant for wetland ecosystems. It helps stabilize the soil and prevent erosion. The plant's roots also help to filter pollutants from the water and improve water quality. Fen Ragwort provides habitat and food for various insects and animals, including bees, butterflies, and birds.

Conservation Status

Fen Ragwort is considered a species of special concern in some states, including Indiana and Wisconsin, due to habitat loss and degradation. Wetland destruction and conversion to agriculture and urban development are the main threats to this plant's survival. Conservation efforts are needed to protect and restore the wetland habitats where Fen Ragwort thrives.

Fen Ragwort is a unique and valuable plant species that provides numerous benefits to wetland ecosystems and has been traditionally used for medicinal purposes. Its preservation and conservation are crucial to maintain the ecological integrity of wetland habitats and ensure that future generations can benefit from its ecological and medicinal properties.

Geographic Distribution

Fen Ragwort is found in various regions of North America, including the United States and Canada. It is commonly found in wetlands and marshes in the eastern and central regions of the United States, from Maine to Florida and as far west as Texas. It is also found in parts of Canada, including Ontario and Quebec.


Fen Ragwort is typically found in wetland habitats such as marshes, swamps, and fens, where it thrives in moist soils. It can also be found in meadows and along the edges of streams and ponds. The plant is well-adapted to wetland environments and can tolerate occasional flooding.


Fen Ragwort can be propagated by seed or by division of mature plants. The plant produces numerous seeds, which can be collected in the fall and sown in the spring. The seeds should be stratified in a cold, moist environment before planting. Fen Ragwort can also be propagated by dividing the root system of mature plants, which can be done in the spring or fall.


The main threats to Fen Ragwort are habitat loss and degradation due to wetland destruction and conversion to agriculture and urban development. Invasive plant species can also compete with Fen Ragwort for resources and space, which can reduce its ability to thrive in its natural habitat. Climate change can also pose a threat to the plant, as changes in temperature and precipitation patterns can affect its growth and survival.

Fen Ragwort is a unique and valuable plant species that is an important part of wetland ecosystems. Its physical characteristics, medicinal properties, and ecological importance make it a plant worth preserving and protecting. Through conservation efforts and habitat restoration, we can ensure that Fen Ragwort continues to thrive in its natural environment and provide important benefits to the ecosystem and to human health.

Relationship with other species

Fen Ragwort is an important host plant for a variety of insect species, including butterflies and moths. The plant's flowers provide nectar for bees and other pollinators, and its seeds provide food for birds and small mammals. In addition, the plant's roots and stems can provide shelter for small animals such as frogs and salamanders.

Cultural significance

Fen Ragwort has been used by Native Americans for centuries for various medicinal purposes, including treating digestive disorders, respiratory ailments, and skin conditions. The plant was also used in traditional ceremonies and rituals, and was believed to have spiritual and protective properties. Today, the plant is still used in some alternative and herbal medicine practices.

Legal status

Fen Ragwort is listed as a species of special concern in some states, including Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. It is also listed as endangered in Michigan. The plant is protected by state and federal laws, which regulate its collection, propagation, and sale.


Research on Fen Ragwort is ongoing, particularly in the areas of medicinal and ecological applications. Studies have found that the plant's extracts have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and may have potential therapeutic benefits for conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes. In addition, researchers are studying the plant's role in wetland restoration and its ability to filter pollutants from water.


Fen Ragwort is a plant species with a rich history and important ecological and medicinal properties. As a valuable part of wetland ecosystems, it is crucial to protect and preserve this plant and its habitat. Continued research into its medicinal and ecological applications can help us better understand and appreciate its importance and potential benefits.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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