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Shaggy Soldier

Galinsoga quadriradiata

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, 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, 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:
60 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, lawns, roadsides, towns, wasteland.

White, 5 petals
In branched clusters. Each flower has 5 small and well spaced white petals which are 3-lobed at the tips. Flower centres are golden yellow. Similar looking is Gallant Soldier but Shaggy Soldier has slightly longer petals.
The fruit is an achene white white pappus (tuft of hairs) at one end.
Very hairy all over, including the leaves. Gallant Soldier is similar but less hairy and unkempt. The pale green leaves are arranged in opposite pairs. Their shape is linear to oval and they have pointed tips. Pinnately divided and deep veined. The leaf margins are large-toothed.
Other Names:
Common Quickweed, Four-rayed Galinsoga, Fringed Quickweed, Hairy Galinsoga, Peruvian Daisy.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Galinsoga quadriradiata, also known as Shaggy Soldier or Four-rayed Galinsoga, is a species of annual herb in the Asteraceae family. It is native to Central America and Mexico, but can be found throughout the world as an invasive weed. The plant grows to a height of 20-60 cm. The leaves are lanceolate, and the flowers are small and yellow, arranged in terminal clusters. It blooms from late spring to early fall. The plant is considered a weed due to its ability to grow quickly, outcompete other plants, and produce large numbers of seeds. It is also known to have medicinal properties.


Shaggy Soldier (Galinsoga quadriradiata) is a plant species that belongs to the Asteraceae family, commonly known as the daisy family. It is a weedy annual herb that is native to South America, but has spread widely and can now be found throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

The plant has small, white, daisy-like flowers that bloom from summer to fall, and can grow up to 60 cm tall. Its leaves are triangular or heart-shaped, with serrated edges, and are covered with long, shaggy hairs. The stems are also covered with these long hairs, giving the plant a shaggy appearance.

Despite its weedy status, Shaggy Soldier has several uses. It is edible and has a slightly sweet and tangy taste, making it a popular addition to salads and soups. It has also been used for medicinal purposes, as it contains high levels of antioxidants and is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.

In addition to its uses, Shaggy Soldier has also been the subject of scientific study. Researchers have investigated the plant's genetics and identified its potential as a biofuel crop due to its high oil content. It has also been studied for its potential as a natural herbicide, as its leaves contain chemicals that are toxic to other plants.

However, despite its potential benefits, Shaggy Soldier is considered an invasive weed in many areas, and its ability to quickly spread and take over habitats can have negative impacts on native plant species. Its long hairs can also cause skin irritation in some people.

Overall, Shaggy Soldier is an interesting and versatile plant with both positive and negative attributes. As with many things in nature, it is a reminder of the complex and sometimes conflicting relationships that exist between humans and the natural world.

One of the reasons that Shaggy Soldier is so successful as an invasive species is its ability to reproduce rapidly. The plant produces numerous small, black seeds that can remain dormant in the soil for years, waiting for the right conditions to germinate. When the soil is disturbed, as often happens in areas where human activity is high, such as gardens and disturbed areas, these seeds can quickly germinate and grow, forming dense colonies.

Another factor contributing to the plant's success is its adaptability. Shaggy Soldier can grow in a variety of soil types, from rich loam to poor, sandy soils. It is also tolerant of a range of environmental conditions, including high temperatures and drought, which enables it to thrive in many different regions.

Despite the negative impacts that Shaggy Soldier can have on native plant communities, it is often admired for its beauty and hardiness. Its small, white flowers are delicate and attractive, and the shaggy hairs on the leaves and stems give it a unique, almost whimsical appearance. It is also a valuable food source for pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, which are important for maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Shaggy Soldier is a plant with many interesting characteristics and potential benefits, but it is also a plant that can be harmful to natural ecosystems when it is introduced to new areas. Its ability to rapidly spread and reproduce highlights the importance of being mindful of our impact on the environment and taking steps to minimize the spread of invasive species. By understanding and respecting the complexities of the natural world, we can work towards a more harmonious and sustainable relationship with the environment.

One of the interesting aspects of Shaggy Soldier is its cultural significance. In some areas where the plant is found, it has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. For example, in Peru, the plant is used to treat stomachaches, colds, and respiratory infections. In other parts of the world, it has been used to treat ailments such as arthritis, rheumatism, and skin conditions. The plant's medicinal properties are believed to be due to its high levels of antioxidants, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting effects.

Shaggy Soldier is also a popular subject in art and literature. Its delicate flowers and unique appearance have inspired artists and writers for centuries. For example, the famous French writer Marcel Proust wrote about the plant in his novel "In Search of Lost Time," where he described its beauty and fragility.

In some regions, Shaggy Soldier is also considered an important part of local cuisine. In parts of South America, the leaves and young shoots are used in soups, stews, and other dishes, while in other regions, the plant is used to make tea or eaten as a salad green.

Shaggy Soldier is a fascinating plant that has captured the attention of people across cultures and disciplines. Its ability to adapt to new environments, its medicinal properties, and its cultural significance make it a valuable and intriguing plant species. However, it is important to be aware of the potential negative impacts of invasive species on the environment, and to take steps to prevent the spread of Shaggy Soldier and other invasive plants.

Shaggy Soldier is also known to have allelopathic effects on other plants. Allelopathy is a process by which a plant produces chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants in its vicinity. Shaggy Soldier produces a chemical compound called guaianolides, which has been shown to have inhibitory effects on the germination and growth of other plant species. This makes Shaggy Soldier a potential candidate for natural weed control in agricultural and horticultural settings, as it may help to reduce the use of synthetic herbicides.

In addition, Shaggy Soldier has also been shown to have some potential as a biocontrol agent. In laboratory studies, it was found to be effective in reducing the population of certain insect pests, such as aphids and whiteflies. This makes it a potential alternative to synthetic insecticides, which can have negative impacts on the environment and human health.

Shaggy Soldier's ability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions, as well as its potential uses in agriculture, medicine, and pest control, make it a plant with a lot of potential. However, its invasive nature means that it must be carefully managed to prevent its negative impacts on native plant communities. By understanding and respecting the complex interactions between different plant species, we can work towards a more sustainable and harmonious relationship with the natural world.


Shaggy Soldier filmed at Morecambe, Lancashire on the 23rd October 2022.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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