THE POISON GARDEN website      Arum maculatum berries on a Cannabis leaf 


This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Wednesday 22nd August 2012

I decided to set myself a long-term project. Just along the road from me there is a small clump of Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort. It stands all alone in the hedge and there are no other plants in sight.

If the sort of things you read on ‘horsey’ forums are correct then these two or three plants should produce between 300,000 and 450,000 seeds that will spread over a wide area with 70% of them germinating. I thought I’d see what happens.

The reason it is a long-term project is that common ragwort is a biennial. When the seeds these plants will produce germinate they will produce a low rosette plant in 2013. Then, in 2014, those rosettes will grow up and flower. I don’t expect to be able to see how prevalent the rosettes are so I’ll have to wait for the flowering stage.

I think it is quite a good test site. Here is the clump of plants

Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort 

And here’s a wider view showing that there is no other ragwort in the area.

Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort 

As well as the grass verges and hedges, with fields on the other side, there is this patch of untended ground that should be ideal for colonisation;

Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort 

Now, all we have to do is sit back until August 2014 when I can take repeat pictures from the same positions to see what has happened.


I remembered that there is a field on the road to the swimming pool where I have regularly seen Jacobaea vulgaris growing and, equally regularly, seen cattle grazing the pasture. I mentioned this field last year 27th July when I said I didn’t think ‘greedy’ farmers would take risks with their cattle if there was a real risk of them grazing on living ragwort.

I knew I’d taken an interest in this field for some years and dug back to find any images. What I found was a poor quality video, shot on 25th July 2008, from which this, even poorer quality, screenshot is taken.

Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort 

It is though good enough to show a cow happily grazing within a few feet of a few ragwort plants. I can’t find anything for 2009 or 2010 but on 27th July 2011 I took this picture of cows lying down close to a few, small ragwort plants;

Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort 

Today, I went back and took some more views of the same field. This one is of exactly the same part of the field as the one above and, though the cows are absent, you can see that the amount of ragwort is unchanged.

Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort 

There is still ragwort in the field and there are still cattle as this picture shows

Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort 

But this more general view indicates that four years after the video was shot that provided the screencap above, that is two complete cycles for this biennial plant, the field still has only a smattering of plants.

Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort 

I think I’m justified in saying that ragwort does not spread nearly as easily as is often claimed and that means my new project is by way of seeing if that is confirmed. 


Full Entries


Tuesday 25th October 2016
Saturday 20th August 2016
Sunday 6th March 2016
Wednesday 3rd February 2016


Saturday 28th November 2015
Friday 27th November 2015
Monday 17th August 2015
Wednesday 15th July 2015
Friday 26th June 2015
Thursday 25th June 2015
Thursday 30th April 2015
Wednesday 29th April 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Tuesday 3rd March 2015
Saturday 28th February 2015
Sunday 22nd February 2015

November 2014

Monday 24th November 2014
Saturday 8th November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

Wednesday 24th September 2014
Monday 1st September 2014

August 2014

Tuesday 26th August 2014
Saturday 16th August 2014
Tuesday 5th August 2014
Friday 1st August 2014

July 2014

Sunday 27th July 2014
Wednesday 23rd July 2014
Sunday 13th July 2014
Sunday 6th July 2014
Tuesday 1st July 2014

June 2014

Wednesday 25th June 2014
Tuesday 24th June 2014
Sunday 22nd June 2014
Monday 9th June 2014
Wednesday 4th June 2014

May 2014

Monday 26th May 2014
Sunday 18th May 2014
Wednesday 14th May 2014

April 2014

Sunday 13th April 2014
Saturday 5th April 2014
Thursday 3rd April 2014
Tuesday 1st April 2014

March 2014

Monday 31st March 2014
Tuesday 25th March 2014
Friday 21st March 2014
Monday 17th March 2014
Sunday 16th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Thursday 6th March 2014
Wednesday 5th March 2014
Saturday 1st March 2014

February 2014

Thursday 27th February 2014
Monday 24th February 2014
Wednesday 19th February 2014
Monday 17th February 2014
Thursday 13th February 2014
Monday 4th February 2014
Monday 3rd February 2014
Saturday 1st February 2014

January 2014

Thursday 28th January 2014
Thursday 23rd January 2014
Friday 17th January 2014
Wednesday 15th January 2014
Monday 13th January 2014
Thursday 9th January 2014
Tuesday 7th January 2014
Wednesday 1st January 2014

December 2013

Monday 23rd December 2013
Friday 20th December 2013
Tuesday 17th December 2013
Friday 14th December 2013
Thursday 12th December 2013
Sunday 8th December 2013
Wednesday 4th December 2013
Sunday 1st December 2013

November 2013

Friday 29th November 2013
Wednesday 27th November 2013
Tuesday 26th November 2013
Friday 22nd November 2013
Monday 18th November 2013
Friday 15th November 2013
Thursday 14th November 2013
Sunday 10th November 2013
Thursday 7th November 2013
Wednesday 6th November 2013
Friday 1st November 2013

October 2013

Thursday 31st October 2013
Sunday 27th October 2013
Wednesday 23rd October 2013
Monday 21st October 2013
Friday 18th October 2013
Friday 11th October 2013
Wednesday 9th October 2013
Tuesday 8th October 2013
Monday 7th October 2013
Tuesday 1st October 2013

September 2013

Monday 30th September 2013
Saturday 28th September 2013
Friday 27th September 2013
Monday 23rd September 2013
Sunday 15th September 2013
Monday 9th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

August 2013

Sunday 8th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

Tuesday 27th August 2013
Sunday 25th August 2013
Monday 19th August 2013
Friday 16th August 2013
Tuesday 13th August 2013
Friday 9th August 2013
Friday 2nd August 2013
Thursday 1st August 2013

July 2013

Saturday 27th July 2013
Sunday 21st July 2013
Wednesday 17th July 2013
Monday 15th July 2013
Saturday 13th July 2013
Friday 12th July 2013
Thursday 11th July 2013
Wednesday 10th July 2013
Tuesday 9th July 2013
Saturday 6th July 2013

June 2013

Friday 28th June 2013
Tuesday 25th June 2013
Friday 21st June 2013
Thursday 20th June 2013
Wednesday 19th June 2013
Saturday 15th June 2013
Sunday 9th June 2013
Saturday 8th June 2013
Saturday 1st June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012 blog

June 2012 blog

May 2012 blog

April 2012 blog

March 2012 blog

February 2012 blog

January 2012 blog

December 2011 blog

November 2011 blog

October 2011 blog

September 2011 blog

August 2011 blog

July 2011 blog

June 2011 blog


The POISON GARDEN website is not connected with Alnwick Garden Enterprises Ltd and/or The Alnwick Garden Trust.