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For years, ragwort was used without concern in seed for greening roadsides, railway tracks and fallow land. Due to the warmer climate of recent years and areas without closed turf, the herb, which is poisonous to humans and animals, has been spreading more and more in recent years.

Ragwort is not notifiable in Germany

Toxicity of Ragwort

Ragwort contains highly toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids that accumulate in the liver. If the animals regularly eat from the plant, these substances gradually lead to an agonizing death. There are currently no treatment options. The toxins also enter the food chain via milk and honey. Experts blame the spread of ragwort for the increasing number of liver diseases in humans.

No obligation to report

The plant is already notifiable in Ireland, Austria and Switzerland. In Germany, however, there is currently no obligation to report, even if this is expressly requested by many animal owners. Because of the toxicity to humans and animals and the increasing spread of ragwort, every landowner in these countries is required to actively combat ragwort.

The Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection views the increasing spread with concern. At the same time, the federal government points out that ragwort is a native plant that must not be controlled in some areas.

No more ragweed in the seed

Since 2009, German seed manufacturers have only offered ragweed-free mixtures. Up to this point, the mixtures contained up to 4 percent ragweed seeds. This is very welcome in order to contain the stocks.

Recommended control measures

To prevent further spread, the following measures are recommended:

  • Prevent ragwort seed formation by mowing in good time.
  • Cut out individual plants. There must be no root residue left in the soil from which a new plant would form.
  • Avoid excessive grazing.
  • Maintain a dense turf by overseeding.
  • In case of heavy infestation, fight chemically as soon as the rosette has reached a growth height of 15 centimetres.


For your own safety, wear gloves for all work. The active ingredients of ragweed can also be absorbed through the skin in small amounts. Since they accumulate in the liver, there is a risk of insidious poisoning.

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