a somewhat occasional blog

In Praise of Ragwort – a bumblebee fest

Ragwort – perhaps it’s name is partly responsible – is a much maligned plant. I was once contacted by a manager of a building asking whether he should remove the plant from a green roof. He was concerned that it might poison someone. Someone!!! Considering only a few people every visit the roof – this is an extreme reaction if ever there was one.


Bumblebee on Ragwort

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I encountered this bee foraging in a frenzy on a Ragwort flower on Point Hill, Blackheath the other day. I see Ragwort everyday during the summer. And it is always I have known ragwort since I was a very small child – and I am am still here to tell the tale – though I have touched it, smelt it and watched it and the wildlife that flocks to it for over 40 years.

There seems to have been a wave of alarm about Ragwort this summer. How it needs to be totally eradicated? I am not going to go into the whys, whats and whatevers. You can find out what the current government advice is on the subject, which is not some rabid eradication policy, which some would have use believe:

Ragwort may need to be controlled when its presence and the likelihood of it spreading to neighbouring land poses a risk to horses and other grazing animals or land used for the production of forage. (my bold).

I would rather celebrate. I am not sure how my species of insects I have watched this summer feeding on ragwort in and around Balckheath – I have seen numerous solitary bees, Bumblebees, Honey bees and butterflies. These include Meadow brown, Gatekeeper and at least one Copper. The colonies of Cinnabar moth larvae on the butterfly bank at Hyde value had a fruitful feast on the leaves of the ragwort growing on the bank.

Autumn is slowing falling upon us here in London. The yellow flowers are turning to grey flower heads to distributed on the wind. Next years flowers in the making. And I look forward to rise of the yellow flowers next summer and the life, biodiversity and interest they bring.

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