Recognize dangerous ragwort

Recognize dangerous ragwort

Ragwort poisonous even when dried

All ragwort species contain highly poisonous pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which can lead to irreversible liver damage and thus death in both humans and animals. The plants are usually recognized quickly due to their bitter, unpleasant taste, but this is lost when dried - in contrast to the toxins that remain fully effective in dried ragwort. Unfortunately, dried ragwort is very difficult to distinguish from other hay components.

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Distinguishing features of the Jacob's ragwort

The dangerous Jacob's ragwort grows to a height of between 30 and 120 centimeters. The bright yellow flower heads have exactly 13 ray florets. The flowers are arranged in upright umbels. The few leaves are located directly on the stem, are narrowly lanceolate and pinnate. They are vaguely reminiscent of rocket leaves, but are significantly smaller and darker. Occasionally, these leaves can be confused with chamomile leaves. Young plants do not yet have pinnate leaves, instead they are indented and arranged in rosettes. The flowers can be seen between June and October.

Differentiate ragwort and St. John's wort

The real St. John's wort and the ragwort appear very similar at first glance and are therefore often confused. In contrast to the poisonous plant, St. John's wort has a flower with exactly five petals and up to 100 very long stamens. The oval-egg-shaped leaves appear like dotted through the numerous oil glands. In addition, the two-edged stem is not hollow, but filled with a soft pulp. St. John's wort blooms from June to August.

Recognize the common ragwort

The common ragwort has a completely different appearance than the ragwort: The plant is only 10 to 30 centimeters high and has more or less hairless, pinnate to pinnate leaves. In addition, the conspicuous ray florets are missing, instead the cups are usually framed by ten very short bracts. All other ragwort species have at least short or rolled back, but mostly well-developed ray florets. Also striking is the infructescence, reminiscent of a dandelion, with the numerous, white little umbrella fliers.


Common ragwort used to be used in folk medicine to stop bleeding. However, this is not recommended today due to the toxicity of the plant.