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Broad-leaved Ragwort

Senecio sarracenicus

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, 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, Fen Ragwort, 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, Treasureflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White African Daisy, 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:
150 centimetres tall
Fens, grassland, marshes, riversides, swamps, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Yellow, 8 petals
Clusters of bright yellow, daisy-like flowers. The flowers all have between 6 and 8 petals. The flower bracts and stalks are both downy.
The fruit is an achene with a pappus attached at one end.
The leaves are narrowly oval. The stems are branchless and grooved. Similar to Fen Ragwort (Senecio paludosus) but the leaves are broader and blunt-toothed. Perennial.
Other Names:
Pitcher Plant Groundsel.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Senecio sarracenicus, also known as Pitcher Plant Groundsel, is a species of flowering plant in the daisy family (Asteraceae). It is native to the southeastern United States, specifically, the coastal plain of the states of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. It typically grows in bogs, fens, and wet pine savannas, and is tolerant to acidic soils. The plant has small yellow flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer and its leaves are basal, lobed and covered with fine white hairs. It is considered a herbaceous perennial and is considered a threatened species in some states due to habitat destruction.


Broad-leaved ragwort (Senecio sarracenicus) is a herbaceous perennial plant that is native to North America. It is a member of the aster family (Asteraceae) and is related to other common plants like dandelions and sunflowers. This plant is also commonly known as swamp ragwort, marsh ragwort, or butterweed.

Broad-leaved ragwort can be found in wetlands, bogs, marshes, and other wet habitats throughout its native range. It can grow up to six feet tall and has large, bright yellow flowers that bloom from June to August. The leaves are broad and toothed, and the stems are thick and sturdy.

Despite its beauty, broad-leaved ragwort is considered a weed by many people because it can spread quickly and can be difficult to control. It is also poisonous to livestock, particularly cattle and horses, as well as to humans if ingested in large quantities. The plant contains a toxic compound called senecionine, which can cause liver damage if consumed over a long period of time.

Because of its toxic nature, broad-leaved ragwort has been the subject of much research over the years. Scientists have found that the plant contains a number of compounds that have potential medicinal properties, including anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial activity. However, more research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of these compounds for human use.

In addition to its potential medicinal properties, broad-leaved ragwort also plays an important ecological role in wetland ecosystems. The plant provides habitat for a variety of insects and other small animals, and its nectar-rich flowers are an important food source for bees and other pollinators. Because of its importance to pollinators, broad-leaved ragwort is often included in wildflower seed mixes for wetland restoration projects.

Broad-leaved ragwort is a fascinating and complex plant with a rich history and many potential uses. While it may be considered a weed by some, it is an important part of North America's wetland ecosystems and deserves our respect and attention.

Broad-leaved ragwort has a long history of use in traditional medicine. Native American tribes used the plant to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions, wounds, and respiratory problems. They also used it as a ceremonial herb and a love charm.

In more recent times, broad-leaved ragwort has been studied for its potential anti-cancer properties. Researchers have found that certain compounds in the plant, including senecionine, can inhibit the growth of cancer cells in laboratory studies. However, more research is needed to determine if these compounds are safe and effective for use in humans.

Broad-leaved ragwort is also an important plant for conservationists and ecologists. The plant is a host for the caterpillars of the ragwort flea beetle, a species that feeds exclusively on ragwort plants. This beetle is an important biocontrol agent that helps to keep ragwort populations in check in some areas.

Despite its potential benefits, broad-leaved ragwort can be a challenging plant to manage in some contexts. The best way to control the spread of the plant is to prevent it from establishing in the first place. This can be done by avoiding disturbance of wetland areas, planting native vegetation that outcompetes the plant, and carefully monitoring for new infestations.

Broad-leaved ragwort is a fascinating and complex plant that has many potential uses and benefits. While it can be toxic and invasive in some contexts, it is also an important part of North America's wetland ecosystems and has a long history of use in traditional medicine. As with all plants, it is important to respect and understand the role that broad-leaved ragwort plays in the environment, and to approach its management with care and consideration.

Broad-leaved ragwort is also used as a food source for certain insects, including the caterpillars of the cinnabar moth. These colorful moths have bright red and black wings and feed exclusively on ragwort plants during their caterpillar stage. They are an important pollinator for ragwort plants and help to keep the plant's populations in balance.

In addition, broad-leaved ragwort has also been used as a natural dye. The plant contains a yellow pigment called luteolin, which has been used for centuries to color fabrics and other materials.

Despite its potential benefits, broad-leaved ragwort is still considered a noxious weed in some areas. This is because it can spread quickly and is toxic to livestock, particularly when ingested in large quantities. Ingestion of the plant can cause liver damage, and in severe cases, can be fatal.

To prevent livestock from ingesting broad-leaved ragwort, it is important to control the plant's spread in pastures and other grazing areas. This can be done by manually removing the plant, using herbicides, or introducing grazing animals that do not eat the plant.

Overall, broad-leaved ragwort is a complex and fascinating plant with a rich history and many potential uses. While it can be toxic and invasive in some contexts, it is also an important part of North America's wetland ecosystems and has many potential benefits. By carefully managing its populations and understanding its role in the environment, we can ensure that this plant continues to thrive and provide benefits for generations to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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