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Hoary Ragwort

Senecio erucifolius

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, 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, 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:
120 centimetres tall
Gardens, grassland, hedgerows, roadsides.

Yellow, many petals
Open clusters of daisy-like yellow flowerheads. Paler in colour than Common Ragwort. Individual flowers up to 2cm.
An achene.
Heavily divided, alternate leaves with linear segments.
Scented leaves resembling the smell of Chrysanthemum.
Other Names:
Hoary Groundsel, Ragged Robin.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Senecio erucifolius, also known as ragged robin or hoary ragwort, is a perennial flowering plant in the Asteraceae family. It is native to Europe and is known for its yellow flowers that bloom in the summer and early fall. It typically grows to a height of around 60-90 cm and has lobed leaves that resemble those of a cress. The plant prefers moist, well-drained soils in full sun or partial shade. It is not commonly cultivated as an ornamental plant but it is known to be used in traditional medicine as a treatment for skin conditions.


Hoary ragwort, or Senecio erucifolius, is a flowering plant native to Europe and Western Asia. It is a member of the Asteraceae family and is commonly found in open grasslands, meadows, and along roadsides. Despite being considered a weed in some regions, hoary ragwort has been traditionally used for medicinal purposes and has also been found to have some ecological benefits.

Physical Characteristics of Hoary Ragwort

Hoary ragwort is a perennial plant that can grow up to 1.2 meters in height. It has a long, slender stem that is covered in a thick layer of white or gray hairs, which give the plant a hoary appearance. The leaves are deeply lobed and can be up to 15 cm in length. The flowers are yellow and are arranged in clusters at the top of the stem. Each flower head is composed of many small flowers, which are surrounded by ray flowers.

Ecological Benefits of Hoary Ragwort

Hoary ragwort is a valuable source of food for a number of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and moths. Its flowers produce nectar and pollen, which are essential for the survival of these insects. Hoary ragwort also plays an important role in soil stabilization. Its long roots help to anchor the soil and prevent erosion, which is particularly important in areas with steep slopes or heavy rainfall.

Medicinal Uses of Hoary Ragwort

Hoary ragwort has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. It is said to have diuretic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-rheumatic properties. In traditional medicine, hoary ragwort was used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems, fever, and skin conditions. However, it should be noted that hoary ragwort can be toxic in large doses and should be used with caution.

Management of Hoary Ragwort

Hoary ragwort can be a problematic weed in some regions, particularly in areas where it has been introduced as an invasive species. It can quickly colonize open areas and outcompete native plant species. In order to manage hoary ragwort, it is important to prevent its spread by removing it before it goes to seed. This can be done by hand-pulling or using herbicides. However, it is important to take care when handling hoary ragwort, as it can cause skin irritation in some people.

Hoary ragwort is a fascinating plant with a rich history of traditional use and ecological importance. While it can be considered a weed in some regions, it also provides important benefits to pollinators and plays a crucial role in soil stabilization. As with any plant, it is important to manage hoary ragwort carefully in order to prevent its spread and minimize its potential negative impacts.

More Information

Hoary ragwort has a number of other common names, including hoary groundsel, hoary senecio, and hoary ragweed. It is a hardy plant that can thrive in a variety of soil types and climatic conditions. In addition to its traditional medicinal uses, hoary ragwort has been studied for its potential anti-cancer properties. Researchers have identified a number of compounds in hoary ragwort that may have anti-tumor activity, although more research is needed to fully understand its potential as a cancer treatment.

Hoary ragwort is also an important plant in traditional folklore. In some cultures, it was believed to have magical properties and was used in spells and rituals. For example, in the Scottish Highlands, hoary ragwort was used to protect against witches and evil spirits. It was also believed to have the power to increase fertility and bring good luck.

Despite its many positive qualities, hoary ragwort can be a problematic plant in some regions. It has been introduced as an invasive species in some areas of North America, where it can quickly colonize open areas and outcompete native plant species. In order to prevent its spread, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with hoary ragwort and take steps to control its growth.

Hoary ragwort is a fascinating and complex plant with a rich history of use and importance. Its value as a source of food for pollinators, its potential medicinal properties, and its cultural significance make it an important plant for study and conservation.

Hoary ragwort is a plant that is often confused with other ragwort species, particularly common ragwort (Senecio jacobaea). While these two plants are similar in appearance, there are some key differences. One of the main differences is that hoary ragwort has a more branched stem, whereas common ragwort tends to have a single, unbranched stem. Additionally, hoary ragwort has leaves that are more deeply lobed than those of common ragwort.

In terms of its cultivation, hoary ragwort is a relatively easy plant to grow. It can be propagated by seed, which can be sown directly in the ground in the spring. Hoary ragwort prefers full sun and well-drained soil, although it can tolerate a range of soil types and conditions. It is a relatively low-maintenance plant and does not require regular watering or fertilization.

In terms of its potential uses, hoary ragwort has a number of applications beyond its traditional medicinal and ecological uses. For example, the plant has been studied for its potential use as a biofuel, as it contains high levels of oil. Additionally, the plant has been used in the production of natural dyes, particularly yellow and green dyes.

Overall, hoary ragwort is a fascinating and multi-faceted plant that has played an important role in a variety of contexts. Its unique physical characteristics, ecological benefits, and potential medicinal properties make it a plant worthy of further study and exploration.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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