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Narrow-leaved Ragwort

Senecio inaequidens

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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, 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:
150 centimetres tall
Roadsides, seaside, waterside.

Yellow, many petals
Lemon-coloured flowerheads reaching 2.5cm across, dark-tipped bracts.
The fruits of Ragwort are technically referred to as 'achenes' and are dispersed by the wind. In this species, the achenes are cylindrical, between 2-2.5mm long and are covered in fine hairs between the ribs that are present on the outside surface. The white pappus is 2 to 3 times as long as the achenes.
Bright green, alternate and simple with small auricles present on both sides where they meet the stem. The stalkless leaves can be very variable but are normally long (4-14cm) and slender (from 0.3mm to 1cm wide). The Latin part of the plant name "inaequidens" means "irregular tooth", hence the margins of the leaves being irregularly toothed. However, the leaves are usually without any teeth at all (entire). The long, slender leaves are the main distinguishing feature of this Ragwort species.
Other Names:
African Daisy, Blue Senecio, South African Ragwort.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Senecio inaequidens, also known as African daisy or blue senecio, is a perennial herb or subshrub native to Southern Africa. It is an invasive species that has been introduced to many other parts of the world, and is considered a noxious weed in some areas. It has blue-green, fleshy leaves and small, yellow, daisy-like flowers that bloom year-round. It can grow up to 2m in height and 2m in width. It prefers well-drained soils and full sun. This plant can become invasive if not kept in check, it is toxic to grazing animals and can compete with native plants.


Narrow-leaved Ragwort, also known by its scientific name Senecio inaequidens, is a flowering plant that is native to southern Africa. It belongs to the Asteraceae family and is a member of the Senecio genus, which includes many other species of ragwort. Narrow-leaved Ragwort has become an invasive species in many parts of the world, including Europe, North America, and Australia.

The plant has a long, branching stem that can grow up to 1.5 meters in height. The leaves are narrow and elongated, measuring up to 15 cm in length, with a slightly serrated edge. The flowers are yellow and daisy-like, and they bloom from summer to autumn. The plant spreads by producing numerous seeds that are dispersed by the wind and can also be spread by animals, vehicles, and machinery.

Narrow-leaved Ragwort was first introduced to Europe in the early 20th century as a garden plant. It was later used as a soil stabilizer and erosion control measure on railway tracks and roadsides. However, the plant's ability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions and its fast-growing nature have made it a successful invader in many areas.

Narrow-leaved Ragwort is particularly problematic in areas where it outcompetes native plant species, reducing biodiversity and altering ecosystems. It can also cause economic damage to agriculture, as it is toxic to livestock, particularly horses and cattle. The plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are toxic to the liver and can cause liver damage and even death in animals that consume it.

Efforts are being made to control the spread of Narrow-leaved Ragwort in many areas. Control measures include manual and chemical removal, as well as biological control using natural enemies such as insects or fungi that feed on the plant. Prevention measures, such as monitoring the introduction of new plant species and regulating the transport of soil and plant material, are also being implemented.

Narrow-leaved Ragwort is an invasive species that poses a threat to biodiversity and agriculture. Its toxic nature and ability to spread rapidly make it a challenging plant to control. Awareness and education are essential in preventing the introduction and spread of this species, and the implementation of effective control measures is critical in mitigating its impact on ecosystems and agriculture.

One of the reasons why Narrow-leaved Ragwort is so successful as an invasive species is its ability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions. It can grow in a variety of soil types and tolerate both drought and flooding. The plant is also able to grow in disturbed areas, such as roadsides and railway tracks, where many native plant species may struggle to establish themselves.

Another issue with Narrow-leaved Ragwort is that it has a high reproductive capacity. The plant produces large numbers of seeds, which are dispersed over long distances by the wind. The seeds can remain viable in the soil for many years, which means that even after the plant has been removed, it may continue to spread.

The toxic nature of Narrow-leaved Ragwort is another cause for concern. The pyrrolizidine alkaloids found in the plant can cause liver damage and even death in animals that consume it. Horses and cattle are particularly susceptible to the effects of these alkaloids, which can accumulate in their liver over time. This can result in chronic liver disease and ultimately, liver failure.

There have been cases of human poisoning from the consumption of honey made from bees that have fed on Narrow-leaved Ragwort. This highlights the potential risks associated with the plant and the importance of taking measures to control its spread.

Efforts to control Narrow-leaved Ragwort include a range of methods, from manual removal to the use of herbicides. In some cases, biological control using natural enemies such as insects or fungi that feed on the plant has been successful. However, it is important to carefully consider the potential impacts of any control method on the environment and to ensure that it is effective in reducing the spread of the plant.

Narrow-leaved Ragwort is an invasive species that poses a threat to biodiversity and agriculture. Its ability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions and its toxic nature make it a challenging plant to control. It is important to raise awareness of the risks associated with the plant and to implement effective control measures to mitigate its impact on ecosystems and agriculture.

Narrow-leaved Ragwort can also have indirect impacts on ecosystems by altering the composition of soil microbial communities. The plant produces secondary metabolites that can inhibit the growth of some soil microorganisms, which can affect nutrient cycling and other ecological processes. This can have consequences for the growth and survival of other plant species in the ecosystem.

The economic impact of Narrow-leaved Ragwort is also a cause for concern. The plant can cause significant losses to the agricultural industry, particularly in areas where it is toxic to livestock. The cost of controlling the plant can also be high, particularly in cases where it has become established over large areas.

Prevention is key to avoiding the spread of Narrow-leaved Ragwort. This includes monitoring the introduction of new plant species, particularly those that have the potential to become invasive. Regulating the transport of soil and plant material can also help to prevent the spread of the plant.

Awareness and education are also important in controlling the spread of Narrow-leaved Ragwort. Land managers, gardeners, and members of the public can all play a role in identifying and reporting the presence of the plant. This can help to facilitate early detection and rapid response efforts, which are key to preventing the plant from becoming established over large areas.

Narrow-leaved Ragwort is an invasive species that can have significant impacts on ecosystems and agriculture. Its ability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions and its toxic nature make it a challenging plant to control. Preventing the spread of the plant through early detection and rapid response efforts, as well as raising awareness of the risks associated with the plant, are essential in mitigating its impact on ecosystems and agriculture.

Research is ongoing to better understand the biology and ecology of Narrow-leaved Ragwort, as well as the most effective control methods. This includes studies on the plant's reproductive biology, interactions with soil microorganisms, and the effectiveness of different control measures.

In addition to control efforts, there is also a growing interest in the use of native plant species in ecological restoration. Planting native species can help to restore ecological processes and functions, which can help to prevent the establishment of invasive species such as Narrow-leaved Ragwort.

One example of successful restoration efforts is the case of the Thames Estuary in the United Kingdom, where invasive species, including Narrow-leaved Ragwort, have been removed and replaced with native plant species. This has helped to restore the estuary's ecological processes and functions, as well as providing habitat for a range of native species.

Overall, the management of invasive species such as Narrow-leaved Ragwort requires a multifaceted approach that includes prevention, early detection, and rapid response efforts, as well as effective control methods and the use of native plant species in ecological restoration. By working together to address the threat posed by invasive species, we can help to protect the biodiversity and ecological health of our ecosystems, as well as the economic well-being of our communities.


Narrow-leaved Ragwort filmed in Thorpeness, Suffolk on the 1st July 2022.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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