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Ecology and Management of Tansy Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea L.)

Authors:
  • US Forest Service - Rocky Mountain Research Station

Abstract and Figures

Tansy ragwort, a member of the Asteraceae taxonomic family, is a large biennial or short-lived perennial herb native to and widespread throughout Europe and Asia. Stems can grow to a height of 5.5 feet (1.75 meters), with the lower half simple and the upper half many-branched at the inflorescence. Reproductive stems produce up to 2,500 bright golden-yellow flowers. Capitula (flowerheads) arranged in 20-60 flat-topped, dense corymbs per plant are composed of ray and disc florets; both produce achenes containing a single seed. Rosettes formed of distinctive pinnately-lobed leaves attain a diameter of up to 1.5 feet (0.5 meter). First reported in Montana in 1979 in Mineral County, tansy ragwort has since spread into Flathead, Lincoln, and Sanders Counties. Soils with medium to light textures in areas receiving sufficient rainfall (34 inches or 860 millimeters/year) readily support populations of tansy ragwort. This species is a troublesome weed in decadent pastures, waste areas, clear-cuts and along roadsides. Tansy ragwort produces pyrrolizidine alkaloids - these can be lethal if ingested by cattle, horses and deer, but are less toxic to sheep and goats. Unchecked infestations can result in significant livestock losses, decreased pasture yields and increased management costs (see Figure 1). Auxinic herbicides such as 2,4-D and picloram can provide effective control of tansy ragwort when applied to actively growing immature plants in the spring or fall. Grazing should be deferred at least three to four weeks after herbicide application to prevent livestock poisoning because spraying increases tansy ragwort's palatability. The tansy ragwort flea beetle
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United States Department of Agriculture
NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE
Invasive Species Technical Note No. MT-24
June 2009
Ecology and Management of Tansy Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea L.)
By
Jim Jacobs, Invasive Species Specialist and Plant Materials Specialist
NRCS, Bozeman, Montana
Sharlene Sing, Research Entomologist
USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, Bozeman, Montana
Figure 1. A tansy ragwort infested pasture. Photo by Eric Coombs, Oregon Department of
Agriculture, available from Bugwood.org
Abstract
Tansy ragwort, a member of the Asteraceae taxonomic family, is a large biennial or short-lived
perennial herb native to and widespread throughout Europe and Asia. Stems can grow to a
height of 5.5 feet (1.75 meters), with the lower half simple and the upper half many-branched at
the inflorescence. Reproductive stems produce up to 2,500 bright golden-yellow flowers.
Capitula (flowerheads) arranged in 20-60 flat-topped, dense corymbs per plant are composed of
ray and disc florets; both produce achenes containing a single seed. Rosettes formed of
distinctive pinnately-lobed leaves attain a diameter of up to 1.5 feet (0.5 meter). First reported in
Montana in 1979 in Mineral County, tansy ragwort has since spread into Flathead, Lincoln, and
Sanders Counties. Soils with medium to light textures in areas receiving sufficient rainfall (34
inches or 860 millimeters/year) readily support populations of tansy ragwort. This species is a
troublesome weed in decadent pastures, waste areas, clear-cuts and along roadsides. Tansy
ragwort produces pyrrolizidine alkaloids - these can be lethal if ingested by cattle, horses and
deer, but are less toxic to sheep and goats. Unchecked infestations can result in significant
livestock losses, decreased pasture yields and increased management costs (see Figure 1).
Auxinic herbicides such as 2,4-D and picloram can provide effective control of tansy ragwort
when applied to actively growing immature plants in the spring or fall. Grazing should be
deferred at least three to four weeks after herbicide application to prevent livestock poisoning
because spraying increases tansy ragwort’s palatability. The tansy ragwort flea beetle
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(Longitarsus jacobaeae) and the cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) reportedly provide regional
biological control of tansy ragwort. Mowing is ineffective in controlling tansy ragwort because
it stimulates vegetative growth and leaves below-ground roots intact. Prescribed burning during
the reproductive stage may reduce populations. Grazing management and nutrient management
promoting dense and continuous turf are important for control and prevention because tansy
seedlings cannot establish on closed vegetation sites.
Figure 2. Leaves, inflorescence, and flowers of tansy ragwort. Diagram or Graphic; Britton, N.L.,
and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 3: 542. Available
from USDA PLANTS Database.
PLANT BIOLOGY
Identification
Tansy ragwort is a winter annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial typically growing between
8-36 inches (20-80 centimeters) tall but can attain heights greater than 6 feet (175-200
centimeters) under optimal conditions. Rigid stems grow singly or in groups from an upright
caudex (a short, woody, persistent stem at or just below the ground surface) with only the upper
half of the stems branching at the inflorescence. Tansy ragwort additionally perennates via
fragments of the numerous (50-100/crown) soft, fleshy roots that grow out horizontally and
penetrate the soil to a maximum depth of 12 inches (30 centimeters).
Rosettes, either seedling or root bud in origin, are formed from distinctive stalked basal leaves
2.7-7.9 inches (7-20 centimeters) long, deeply and pinnately lobed with ovate, obovate, or
narrow coarsely-toothed segments (see Figure 2). Leaves are either glabrous (without hairs) or
with loose wooly down on the underside, especially during early development. Rosette leaves
generally die back at or before flowering. Stem leaves are deeply bi- or tri-pinnatifid, arranged
alternately on the stem and are reduced in size higher on the stem. Middle and upper stem leaves
lack a petiole and slightly clasp the stem.
Bright yellow, showy flowers arise only on the pedicel (branch) ends; outer pedicels are
progressively longer than inner pedicels and form flat- or round-topped, dense and compact
corymbs (see Figure 3). Capitula (flowerheads) 12-25 millimeters in diameter and numbering
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20-60 per corymb have 13 dark-tipped bracts 3-4 millimeters long, and are composed of both ray
and disc florets. There are 13 achene (small fruit) producing ray florets with rays (petals) 8-2
millimeters long. Disc florets are numerous and produce both pollen and achenes. The number
of capitula and achenes produced per plant is highly variable.
Single seeds are contained within each achene; achenes produced from ray florets shed their
pappus, are glabrous, and have a thick pericarp (skin), whereas achenes produced from disc
florets retain their pappus, are pubescent with short hairs (trichomes) along prominent ribs and
are lighter in weight than ray achenes. The pappus, composed of numerous white 'hairs' 6
millimeters in length, is attached to the top of the achene; its resemblance to a white beard
explains the origin of the genus name, Senecio, derived from the Latin senex for "old" or "old
man".
Tansy ragwort can be distinguished from native Senecio congeners by its comparatively larger
size and exaggerated pattern of leaf dissection. Although tansy ragwort superficially resembles
common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), it differs significantly in flower composition, producing
capitula with both ray and disc florets whereas common tansy flowers are composed solely of
disc florets.
Other common names for tansy ragwort include stinking willy and staggerwort. In the United
Kingdom Senecio jacobaea has formed hybrids with Senecio aquaticus, Senecio cineraria, and
Senecio alpinus.
Figure 3. Tansy ragwort flowers. Photo by Michael Shephard, USDA Forest Service, available
from Bugwood.org
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Life History
Tansy ragwort’s life history is typical of biennial plant species: it reproduces for the most part by
seed; it overwinters in the seed or rosette stage; and it passes through one growing season in the
vegetative rosette stage before becoming reproductively mature. However, because both the root
and the caudex of this species have the capacity to form perennating buds under environmental
or mechanical stress, tansy ragwort has the vegetative regenerative capacity of a perennial. A
study of 179 plants in Australia found 2% were annuals, 45% biennials, and 39% were
perennials. A separate study in England found 8% of the study plants were annuals, 39% were
biennials, and 53% were perennials. Tansy ragwort has been observed as a true perennial by
continuing to grow after flowering, particularly after disturbance. An Oregon study reported
20% of the tansy ragwort plants in a population were true perennials.
Tansy ragwort has four distinct life history stages: seeds, seedlings, rosettes, and flowering
plants. The viability of a tansy ragwort seed crop is about 80%. The seeds have no mechanisms
of innate dormancy other than the relatively thick pericarp on ray floret achenes which is
believed to delay germination by a few days. The maximum potential for germination is reached
when achenes leave the flowerhead: however, experimentation showed this potential did not
significantly decrease after three years of storage under field conditions. Most seeds germinate
in the late summer or early autumn, but seeds lying dormant throughout the winter will
germinate at the beginning of the growing season in the spring. Ideal temperatures for
germination range between 41-86o F (5-30o C). Soil moisture influences germination: at any
given temperature an increase in soil moisture increases germination and the optimum
temperature for germination changes as soil moisture changes (maximum germination is reached
at a lower temperature when soil moisture is high). Vegetative cover may inhibit germination
and frost, drought, or burial may induce dormancy. Seeds buried in soil deeper than 0.75 inch (2
centimeters) remain dormant. Light is required for germination. Studies showed 24% of seeds
buried for six years maintained their viability. Also, seeds buried up to 2 centimeters deep had a
higher germination rate than seeds left on the soil surface, most likely because moisture is
consistently greater below the soil surface than on the surface. Seeds subjected to drought or
cold temperature shock had delayed germination; the longer the shock, the longer the delay.
Seedling establishment and survival are variable, the largest determinant of survival being the
amount of vegetative cover. In experimental garden plots two months after seeding tansy
ragwort, no seedlings survived in plots with long grass or in plots with short but continuous turf,
whereas seedling survival was greater in cleared or woodland areas than grassy areas. Grazed
pastures on Prince Edward Island, Canada, had about eight times more tansy ragwort plants than
ungrazed pastures.
Once established, seedlings form flattened rosettes that are effective competitors. The large
rosette leaves are able to cover neighboring plants, thereby suppressing their growth. When the
rosette leaves die, sites are opened for tansy ragwort seed germination. One study found
seedling establishment was over four times higher on sites opened by dying rosettes than on sites
in surrounding vegetation. Alkaloids produced by rosettes may have the allelopathic effect of
suppressing other plants. Rosette leaves die when plants flower.
Plants typically flower during the second year of growth. Flowering has been reported to begin
as early as June and to last as late as mid-November. It is believed rosettes must achieve some
minimum size before flowering can begin, and the probability of flowering increases as rosette
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size increases. Floral expansion is rapid and florets are receptive to pollination as soon as the
floret is fully expanded. Hymenopteran (bee/wasp) and dipteran (fly) insect species are the
primary pollinators of tansy ragwort. Seeds disperse throughout the fall. Rosettes that do not
flower continue to grow into the fall accumulating storage carbohydrate important for winter
survival. Carbohydrate content of the plant is highest going into winter.
Habitat
Tansy ragwort tolerates a wide range of habitats and environmental conditions but is generally
found on mesic sites with cool, wet, cloudy weather. It grows on many soil types but usually on
lighter, well-drained loamy or sandy soils. It normally does not grow where there is a high water
table or on soil with high acidity. In Europe it naturally occurs in sand dune, woodland, and
grassland communities. In North America it is found in pastures, forest clearings, and waste
places and is often associated with Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), common St. Johnswort
(Hypericum perforatum), and yellow toadflax (Linaria vulgaris).
Spread
The pappus on the achene of tansy ragwort facilitates wind dispersal. However, achenes are
generally considered to be poor wind dispersers and studies suggest 60% of tansy ragwort seeds
fall within seven feet (2 meters) of the parent plant with only 0.5% of seeds produced actually
becoming wind borne. One dispersal study found that all achenes fell within 46 feet (14 meters)
of the parent plants. Seeds can also disperse by water movement, through the digestive tract and
adhering to livestock and other animals, and viable seeds have been collected from bird
droppings. Original infestations in North America are believed to have arrived in soil used as
ship’s ballast. Tillage equipment used in fields where tansy ragwort occurs can spread root and
caudex fragments within the field and to fields where the equipment is subsequently used. In
Montana, tansy ragwort has established on logging sites and clearings, implicating equipment
used for logging as a long-distance spread vector. The showy flowers may encourage people to
transplant or seed tansy ragwort into gardens from which it can spread to pastures and native
plant sites.
Impacts
Tansy ragwort can reduce forage yields by as much as 50% in pastures. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids
are present in all plant parts. Cattle, deer, horses and goats consuming either growing plants or
tansy ragwort in silage and hay store these alkaloids in their livers. Even if symptoms are not
evident or are minor in nature, the cumulative storage of alkaloids can result in reduced weight
gain, liver degradation, reduced butterfat content of cow’s milk, and sudden death in apparently
healthy animals. Alkaloids in tansy ragwort pollen also taint honey, making it bitter, off-color
and unmarketable.
MANAGEMENT ALTERNATIVES
Herbicide 1/
Tansy ragwort can be controlled using auxinic herbicides (mimics of auxin, a naturally-occurring
plant growth regulator). The best timing of application is when tansy ragwort is actively
growing in the rosette stage either in the spring or mid-fall. Herbicides are less effective after
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plants have bolted to produce flowers. In most cases reapplication of herbicide or integration
with other control methods will be needed for sustained population reductions. The amine, low-
volatile ester, or emulsifiable acid formulations of 2,4-D are effective when applied at 2 lb.
a.e./ac. (two pounds acid equivalent per acre). Always check the herbicide label to confirm
formulation and proper usage of the product before applying. When using 4 lb. a.e./gal. (four
pound acid equivalent per gallon) formulation, apply the mixed product at a rate of 2 qt./ac. (two
quarts per acre).
Tansy ragwort is listed on the following herbicide labels at rates in parentheses: picloram (1-2
qt./ac.), aminopyralid (5-7 oz./ac.), metsulfuron (0.5-1 oz./ac. with nonionic surfactant at 0.5%),
and chlorsulfuron (1-3 oz./ac. with nonionic surfactant at 0.5% volume to volume). Metsulfuron
and chlorsulfuron should not be applied where soil pH is greater than 7.9 because under these
conditions chemical breakdown is slow resulting in extended residual activity that increases the
risk of off-site movement of the chemical and non-target plant injury. Consult individual
herbicide labels for other possible soil pH restrictions.
Herbicides are most effective where competitive desired plants are present to fill voids in the
plant community following successful tansy ragwort control. However, herbicide injury to non-
target desirable broadleaved plants and some grasses should be expected; consult product labels
for further information on potential non-target injury. To avoid non-target injury, apply
herbicides in the fall after desired plants are dormant for the winter. This tactic is most effective
when using herbicides with low residual activity. Always follow label instructions to reduce
toxicity or other unintended risks to humans and the environment, and to confirm potential
grazing and replanting restrictions. Consult your local County Extension agent or weed
coordinator for herbicide recommendations in your area. Herbicide treatments typically increase
the concentration of water-soluble carbohydrate in tansy ragwort, making it more palatable to
livestock and thereby increasing the risk of alkaloid poisoning. Grazing should therefore be
deferred for 3-4 weeks after herbicide application.
Hand Pulling
Hand pulling and digging that extracts all of the caudex and fleshy rootstock is an effective
method to temporally reduce tansy ragwort on small-scale infestations and scattered plants either
as new invaders or those persisting after herbicide treatments. Pulling rosette and flowering
plants will reduce seed set. Follow-up management will be needed to eliminate plants
regenerating from root fragments or seed. Protective gloves are recommended to be worn as a
precautionary measure by anyone handling tansy ragwort.
Mowing
Mowing is not an effective control for tansy ragwort. Rosettes are flat to the ground and may be
missed by the mower blade, and when clipped, vegetative reproduction is stimulated. Mowing
when plants bolt to flower may temporarily reduce seed production; however, plants will survive
to flower again. A dispersal study found achenes dispersed as much as two and a half times
1/ Any mention of specific products in this publication does not constitute a recommendation by the
NRCS. It is a violation of Federal law to use herbicides in a manner inconsistent with their
labeling.
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farther on mowed sites than where the natural vegetation remained. However, in Switzerland,
frequent mowing promoted fast-growing grass species and was associated with reduced
occurrence of tansy ragwort. Mowing to maintain vigorous grassland communities may help
prevent tansy ragwort invasion.
Tilling
The roots and caudex of tansy ragwort have the ability to regenerate after they are broken-up by
tilling. Therefore, tillage has the potential to spread tansy ragwort and is not recommended by
itself. The disturbance of tillage can create a favorable environment for tansy ragwort growth
and reproduction by reducing competitive perennial plants. Tillage should be combined with
herbicide management and followed by revegetation with desired, competitive plants.
Irrigation
Tansy ragwort thrives under mesic conditions and therefore irrigation is not recommended as a
control by itself. Where tansy ragwort invades irrigated pastures and hayland, carefully planned
irrigation management will stimulate the competitiveness of the forage crop and when combined
with nutrient, forage harvest, and grazing management practices will help prevent the re-
establishment of tansy ragwort after other control practices are applied.
Fertilization
Tansy ragwort is found on pastures of low to moderate nutrient status in Switzerland, which is
part of its native range. A Swiss study found the amount of plant-available nitrogen was one of
the most important factors predicting the occurrence of tansy ragwort. The model developed
from that study predicted a fivefold reduction in the risk of tansy ragwort occurrence by doubling
the application of nitrogen from about 50 lb./ac. to 100 lb./ac. On cultivated pastures and hay
meadows, nutrient management is important to maintaining the competitiveness of desired
perennial grasses. Nutrient management combined with judicious use of herbicides and crop
rotation is recommended where tansy ragwort invades non-native pastures and hay meadows.
Prescribed Burning
Fire is reportedly effective in killing reproductive tansy ragwort plants and achenes. Fire is also
used to maintain the vigor and density of grassland communities by burning excess plant litter
and possibly increasing soil fertility. Fire can therefore be used as a preventative measure or in
combination with other control methods to reduce tansy ragwort populations. On forested sites
and clearings, the disturbance caused by fire may create openings favorable to tansy ragwort
invasion.
Grazing Management
The way grazing is managed is an important factor influencing localized presence and
distribution of tansy ragwort in its native range. In the Swiss study referred to in the
Fertilization section above, continuously grazed pastures were 11 times more likely to be
infested by tansy ragwort than pastures managed under rotational grazing because the former
management regime resulted in more openings in the grass canopy where tansy ragwort could
establish. Pastures that had greater than 25% uncovered soil had a 40-fold greater risk of tansy
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ragwort occurrence than pasture with less than 25% bare ground. Prescribed grazing that
maintains a continuous grassland community is recommended both for the prevention of tansy
ragwort invasion and in pastures where it is already being controlled.
Tansy ragwort leaves and flowers exceed the standard protein and digestibility requirements for
sheep. In addition, sheep seem immune to the plant’s toxic alkaloids, and are willing grazers of
young plants. In New Zealand, intensive sheep grazing is the predominant management
approach for tansy ragwort; the weed generally does not occur where sheep are regularly
stocked. In an Oregon grazing study, tansy ragwort seed production was prevented and plant
mortality was attributed to sheep grazing in the summer following cattle had grazing in the
spring. A separate study found tansy ragwort plants subjected to 75% defoliation were able to
compensate fully five months after treatment when grown without competition. When grown in
competition with Richardson’s fescue (Festuca rubra), there was no re-growth after 75%
defoliation. These studies suggest sheep grazing is effective in controlling tansy ragwort where
it grows in a competitive grassland community.
Biological Control
Cinnabar moth
Biological control of tansy ragwort in the U.S. was initiated in 1959 with the California release
of the cinnabar moth, Tyria jacobaeae L. (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae). This agent is now well-
established in California, Oregon, Washington, and in northwestern Montana. The cinnabar
moth flourishes in lower elevation (below 3,000 ft./900 meters) open canopy areas with warm,
sunny summers and large, high-density infestations of tansy ragwort. Adult moths are 0.60-0.88
in (15-22 millimeters) long with a wingspan of 1.08-1.40 inches (27-35 millimeters) and have a
distinctive appearance: the black forewing is marked by a few irregularly-shaped crimson spots
and a crimson line along the outer edge of the wing while the hind wing is entirely crimson (see
Figure 4). Cinnabar moths typically emerge by late spring, mate and finish depositing eggs by
mid-summer. Moths can be roused into flight during daylight hours when host vegetation is
disturbed. Eggs are laid on the underside of rosette leaves in small groups. The eggs hatch after
several weeks’ development and emerging larvae begin feeding on foliage closest to the hatch
site. The damaging larval stage of this agent is easily recognized by its alternating bands of
bright orange and black (see Figure 5). Pupation begins in late summer when the fully-grown
fifth-instar larvae seek out suitable sites in debris or soil, or under bark; the cinnabar moth
overwinters as a 0.80-1.00 inch (20-25 millimeters) long dark reddish-brown pupa.
Roving groups (10-30 individuals) of the gregarious larval stage of this agent aggressively feed
on the leaves, flowers and apical meristems of bolting tansy ragwort, leaving plants stripped of
all foliage. Larval feeding can lead to significant reductions in seed production and stand
density, although impact varies considerably. The larval stage of this agent is optimal for
redistribution onto uncolonized infestations of tansy ragwort. Caterpillars are easily collected by
shaking plants over collecting pans (such as kitty litter trays); retain larvae under cool, dry and
uncrowded conditions in ventilated (with pin holes) containers provisioned with fresh host plant
material for as short a period as possible before releasing. Because endogenous toxic alkaloids
sequestered from tansy ragwort are present in both the larval and adult stage of this agent,
implications for livestock health and management should be carefully considered when choosing
sites for releasing the cinnabar moth.
The efficacy of the cinnabar moth alone in controlling tansy ragwort is limited with successful
control reported only when larval defoliation was accompanied by favorable environmental
factors (frost). Although this agent is highly effective in combination with the ragwort flea
beetle, its deployment has been surrounded by controversy. Non-target attack on the exotic weed
common groundsel Senecio vulgaris, two native species Senecio triangularis and Packera
pseudaurea (formerly Senecio pseudaureus) and the ornamental silver ragwort, Senecio bicolor,
have been reported when moth population densities outstrip local tansy ragwort resources.
Figure 4. Cinnabar moth. Image: Eric Coombs, Oregon Department of Agriculture. Available at
Bugwood.org
Figure 5. Larval stage of cinnabar moth. Image: Eric Coombs, Oregon Department of
Agriculture. Available at Bugwood.org
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Ragwort seed fly
The ragwort seed fly Botanophila seneciella Meade (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) was first
introduced to the U.S. in California in 1966 and was the first tansy ragwort agent to become
well-established east of the Cascades. Botanophila seneciella was released to additively improve
tansy ragwort biocontrol by bolstering the low levels of control realized with the cinnabar moth.
Adult flies (see Figure 6), 0.20-0.28 inch (5-7 millimeters) in length, emerge in spring and
deposit eggs on tansy ragwort flower buds through early summer. The 0.16-0.24 inch (4-6
millimeters) long creamy-white larva tunnels into the flowerhead and throughout the receptacle,
eventually moving back up to the seed head. Evidence of infestation by this agent is obvious:
larval feeding generally destroys all seed within mined seed heads, and flowers under attack are
typically marked by frothy spittle. Mature larvae exit host seed heads in late summer to pupate
in the soil. The ragwort seed fly overwinters as a dark brown 0.2 inch (5 millimeters) long pupa.
Because this agent shares the same habitat preferences as the cinnabar moth, their joint release is
often marked by resource competition for favorably located host plants. The seed fly usually
loses out because the moth’s phenology allows it to begin ovipositing earlier so that caterpillars
have generally stripped all flowerheads from plants in open canopy areas by the time the seed fly
is ready to begin oviposition. Reproductive success is significantly reduced when resource
competition forces the fly to lay eggs on host plants located in moist, shaded areas. This agent
has self-distributed comprehensively throughout the Pacific Northwest; redistribution is
generally unnecessary but if desired is best accomplished by transplanting fly-infested plants in
late spring.
Figure 6. Ragwort seed fly - adult. Image: Eric Coombs, Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Available at Bugwood.org
Ragwort flea beetle
The light gold-colored ragwort flea beetle (see Figure 7), Longitarsus jacobaeae Waterhouse
(Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae), first introduced to the U.S. in 1969, is now established in Montana,
Washington, Oregon, and California. Intensive foliar feeding by adult flea beetles, termed "shot
holing," is a clear indicator of whether or not a tansy ragwort stand has been colonized by this
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agent. Ragwort flea beetles introduced to the U.S. before 2002 were collected in Italy; the so-
called Italian strain of this agent is credited with exceptional control and continued suppression
of tansy ragwort infestations west of the Cascades. A Swiss strain of this agent with a
completely different phenology than the Italian strain and believed to be better adapted to higher
elevations, colder winters and shorter growing seasons typical of tansy ragwort infested areas
east of the Cascades was released in Montana in 2002.
Adult Italian-strain ragwort flea beetles emerge briefly in spring before returning to the soil to
estivate (summer dormancy) until prompted by late summer/early fall rains to begin mating.
Eggs laid from October through November produce slender white larvae 0.08-0.16 inch (2-4
millimeters) in length that feed throughout the winter on the host plant roots. Larvae leave the
roots in the spring to pupate in the soil. Pupae are white and 0.08-0.16 inch (2-4 millimeters)
long.
Swiss-strain adult flea beetles emerge from their pupation sites in the soil in late spring to early
summer and begin feeding, mating and laying eggs immediately. Development in the eggs of
Swiss-strain beetles is delayed through the rest of that summer, fall and winter and does not
begin until the following spring. Larvae feed on and in tansy ragwort roots until pupating in the
fall. The Swiss strain of the ragwort flea beetle is unique in that it overwinters both in the egg
and pupal stage. Adults of both strains are 0.08-0.16 inch (2-4 millimeters) in length with the
males approximately 0.04 inch (1 millimeter) shorter than the females.
Tansy ragwort rosettes appear to be the most susceptible stage of the weed to flea beetles as
significant control is realized from both larval root mining and adult foliar feeding that
specifically targets vegetative (pre-reproductive) plants. The adult stage of the flea beetle is best
suited to successful collection for redistribution, either by vacuum collection or sweeping,
October-November for the Italian strain and mid-summer for the Swiss strain.
Figure 7. Ragwort flea beetle - adult. Image: USDA ARS European Biological Control
Laboratory. Available at Bugwood.org
Revegetation
The information presented above strongly suggests tansy ragwort is not competitive in a closed
plant community. Control of tansy ragwort regardless of method will most likely be short term
where competitive plants are absent. In western Montana, tansy ragwort commonly invades in
forest communities after logging because the disturbance associated with logging creates
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favorable establishment sites and the logging equipment often serves as a vector of spread.
Seeding rapidly establishing perennial plants after logging is therefore extremely important to
preventing or reducing the severity of tansy ragwort infestations. In forage crop fields, crop
rotation can facilitate tansy ragwort control while keeping the crops vigorous and competitive.
Plant species selected for revegetating disturbed sites likely or known to be infested by tansy
ragwort should be appropriate for management objectives, adapted to site conditions, and
competitive with the weed. Management objectives will determine if forage species or native
species should be seeded and specific species mixture components. The environmental
conditions of the site, including precipitation, soil texture and depth, slope and aspect, will affect
species establishment. On native rangeland, a diversity of perennial grass and forb species that
occupy many niches over time and space will most fully utilize available resources and compete
effectively with tansy ragwort. Refer to Montana Plant Materials Technical Note 46, 'Seeding
Rates and Recommended Cultivars,' and Extension Bulletin EB19 'Dryland Pasture Species for
Montana and Wyoming' for seeding rate guidance and revegetation species selection. State, area,
and field resource specialists can help determine the most appropriate, site-specific species mix
and timing of seeding for local conditions.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Tansy ragwort thrives on disturbed ground with open sites in the plant community. On hay
ground, IPM practices include crop rotation, nutrient management, irrigation management
(where available), and forage harvest management to maintain a competitive closed plant
community. New infestations of tansy ragwort should be aggressively controlled using hand
pulling and/or broadleaf herbicide. On pastures and rangeland, herbicide application should be
combined with prescribed grazing. Multi-species grazing with cattle and sheep will provide
more uniform utilization than single-species grazing. In the spring, grazing sheep first to target
tansy ragwort before grazing with cattle will prevent accidental poisoning of cattle. When tansy
ragwort plants are mature, cattle will avoid them. Severe infestations should only be grazed by
sheep. Forest clearings should be revegetated and monitored for new infestation after logging
operations. Roadways, trails, and irrigation ditches should be maintained weed free.
References
Bain, J.F. 1991. The biology of Canadian weeds. 96. Senecio jacobaea L. Canadian Journal of
Plant Science 71: 127-140.
Coombs, E.M., J.K. Clark, G.L. Piper and A.F. Cofrancesco, Jr. (Eds). 2004. Biological Control
of Invasive Plants in the United States. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press.
467 pp.
Coombs, E.M., H. Radtde, D.L. Isaacson and S.P. Snyder. 1997. Economic and regional
benefits from the biological control of tansy ragwort, Senecio jacobaea, in Oregon.
Proceedings of the IX International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds, pp. 489-
494. V.C. Moran and J.H. Hoffmann (Eds). 19-26 January 1996. Stennenbosch, South
Africa. University of Cape Town.
NRCSMontanaTechnical Note
Invasive SpeciesMT-24 13
Crawley, M.J. and R. Pattrasudhi. 1988. Interspecific competition between insect herbivores:
asymmetric competition between cinnabar moth and the ragwort seed-head fly.
Ecological Entomology 13: 243-249.
Harper, J.L. and W.A. Wood. 1957. Senecio jacobaea L. Ecology 45: 617-637.
McEvoy, P.B. and C. S. Cox. 1987. Wind dispersal distances in dimorphic achenes of ragwort,
Senecio jacobaea. Ecology 68(6): 2006-2015.
Mitich, L.W. 1995. Intriguing world of weeds - tansy ragwort. Weed Technology 9: 402-404.
Sharrow, S.H. and W.D. Mosher. 1980. Sheep as a biological control agent for tansy ragwort.
Journal of Range Management 34(4): 440-482.
Suter, M., S. Siegrist-Maag, J. Connolly, and A. Lüscher. 2007. Can the occurrence of Senicio
jacobaea be influenced by management practice? Weed Research 47: 262-269.
del-Val, E. and M.J. Crawley. 2004. Interspecific competition and tolerance to defoliation in
four grassland species. Canadian Journal of Botany 82: 871-877.
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... Dabei ist ein gutes Grünlandmanagement mit dem Ziel, eine lückenlose und Eine weitere Option zur Reduktion des JKK ist eine Beweidung mit Schafen. Diese Tierart scheint aufgrund der hohen Entgiftungskapazität durch verschiedene Organe(13)(14)(15)(16) und hepatischen mikrosomalen Enzymaktivität, welche die Hydrolyse von Senecio-PAs umfassend katalysiert(17,18), weniger empfindlich oder gar immun gegen PAs zu sein(7,(19)(20)(21). Da es hierzulande keine Daten aus der Praxis gibt, die zeigen, ob Schafe JKK reduzieren können oder nicht, haben wir im Rahmen einer zweijährigen Feldstudie das Fressverhalten von Schafen und dessen Auswirkungen auf die Vegetation und die Tiergesundheit auf JKK-reichen Weiden untersucht.JKK ist eine krautige Pflanze aus der Familie der Korbblütler (Asteraceae). ...
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... In these cases, sheep grazing was recommended as a biological control agent for the weed [9,[22][23][24][25], albeit for one season only [9]. In many countries, environmentally friendly options are needed to reduce common ragwort alongside cutting it by hand, as recommended in several studies [26][27][28][29][30]. Eradicating ragwort via biocides leads to a decrease in biodiversity [31], while sheep would be ideal partners in the natural control of ragwort. ...
... In conclusion, we found strong indications that sugar was revealed to be the decisive variable that makes ragwort highly attractive and led to its being extensively consumed at least in the first year, whereas in the second year, its higher protein content might have increased its appeal. Especially in summer, at times of dry feed, ragwort turned out to be a nutritional and valuable food for sheep [18,26,29]. Furthermore, ragwort is rich in sodium, chlorine, and copper (Fairburn and Thomas, 1959, cited in [40]. ...
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... Не менш важливим є підбір одразу декількох агентів, що здатні впливати на різні органи рослини на різних етапах життєвого циклу, виявляючи кумулятивну дію на популяції інвазійних рослин (Blossey, Nötzold, 1995;Blossey, Hunt-Joshi, 2003). Для регулювання інвазійних популяцій Carduus nutans, який був випадково завезений у Північну Америку ще в 1860-і роки й досяг високого ступеня інвазійного поширення у 1960-і роки, було використано комах Rhinocyllus conicus (Frölich, 1792) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)та Urophora solstitialis (Linnaeus , 1758) (Diptera: Tephritidae), що уражували насіння, та Trichosirocalus horridus (Panzer, 1801) (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)Pemberton, 2000;Jacobs, Sing, 2009). Проте, у 1930-х та 1980-х роках були інтродуковані ще два види комах – Botanophila jacobaeae (Hardy, 1872) (Diptera: Anthomyiidae) та Longitarsus jacobaeae (Waterhouse, 1861) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). ...
... Результат регулювання з'явився вже через 4- 5 років після інтродукції. У багатьох штатах США, де спостерігали інвазії J. vulgaris, унаслідок використання подібних програм контролю вдалося досягти зменшення популяцій цього виду на 95-99% (Jacobs, Sing, 2009;Rapo et al., 2010). Ще одним з класичних прикладів застосування методу біологічного контролю є стримування експансії Lythrum salicaria у Північній Америці. ...
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... The phylogenetic analysis of L. fischeri was performed by comparison with 45 protein-coding gene sequences derived from chloroplast genome sequences of other 18 species in family Asteraceae. Phylogenetic tree was generated by a maximumTamura et al. 2013) using 1000 bootstrap replicates and revealed that L. fischeri was placed mostly close to Jacobeae vulgaris (synonym Senecio jacobaea), a biennial or perennial Asteraceae weed widely distributed in Asia, Europe, America, Africa and Australia (McLaren et al. 2000;Jacobs & Sing 2009) (Figure 1). ...
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Common tansy [ Tanacetum vulgare (L.) Bernh. ♯CHYVU], a native of Europe and Asia, is a perennial herbaceous composite growing erect to 1 m. It bears finely divided leaves and, in summer, umbels of small, button-shaped yellow flowers. It has had many traditional uses as medicine, preservative, and repellent from Medieval times to modern—uses which have been validated by contemporary research.
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Senecio jacobaea L. (tansy ragwort) is a roadside and pasture weed which was introduced into Canada in the 1850s. It is established in cool, wet areas, most commonly on the east and west coasts. The species is important economically because the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the foliage makes it toxic and the poisoning of livestock has resulted. Individuals produce dimorphic achenes which possess different dormancy and dispersal characters and are therefore able to establish in a wider range of habitats. Vegetative reproduction is common especially after damage to the plant. Control of the weed is achieved either through the application of hormone-like herbicides or by biological means. The establishment of the biological control agent, cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae L.), in populations has resulted in defoliation of individuals but has not resulted in effective control of the weed, except in eastern Canada. Key words: Tansy ragwort, Senecio jacobaea, biological control, pyrrolizidine alkaloids
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Tansy ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) is a biennial weed commonly found on forest and pasture lands in the maritime regions of the Pacific Northwest. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids in tansy ragwort, when consumed by most types of livestock, produce progressive and irreversible liver damage. Sheep, however, appear immune to these alkaloids. To evaluate the possibility of using sheep to suppress tansy ragwort in cattle pastures, 100 plants were marked and their status followed during 1977 and 1978 in pastures grazed by cattle alone and in pastures grazed by both cattle and sheep. Total tansy ragwort mortality did not differ between pastures. However, the cause of mortality did differ. Mortality on the cattle-grazed pasture was predominately due to completion of the plant's biennial life cycle (blooming and seed set), while most plant mortality on the sheep plus cattle pasture appeared to be the result of grazing. The data suggest that sheep may be used as a biological control agent to suppress tansy ragwort populations by reducing their ability to produce seed.
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A mark-recapture study of wind-dispersed achenes of Senecio jacobaeo conducted in western Oregon showed that the proportion of achenes dispersing a given distance varied significantly with changes in site (inland vs. coastal), surroundings (mown vs. unmown), height of release (0-50, 50-100, 100-150, 150-200 cm), time of release (early vs late in the season), direction of dispersal, and achene type (disk vs. ray achenes). Influences of height of release, direction, achene type, and time of release were strongly conditioned by site and surroundings. The majority of achenes dispersed very short distances. Of 53 301 achenes falling in the recapture area, 31% travelled only 1 m, 89% travelled 5 m or less, and none were collected > 14 m from the source. Thus, while it is theoretically possible for these wind-dispersed achenes to travel long distances, actual dispersal distances are short due to local conditions of humidity, wind, and vegetation structure.
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Senecio jacobaea is a poisonous weed in grasslands of various countries (e.g. Great Britain, New Zealand, Central European states) and the further spread of the species into farmland must be prevented. To assess the influence of management practice and site conditions on the occurrence of S. jacobaea, we conducted a survey in the northern and central part of Switzerland. Botanical assessments were carried out on grassland plots with S. jacobaea occurrence and on neighbour plots without S. jacobaea. For these plots, we analysed the soil nutrients and the details of management practice, such as type and intensity of management and fertiliser application. The most important factors influencing the occurrence of S. jacobaea were related to management: There was a high risk for the occurrence of the species on parcels with low nitrogen fertilisation, continuous-extensive grazing (set stocking) and a very open sward. Senecio jacobaea was not present in intensively managed meadows cut more than twice per year. As an exception, with a high propagule pressure from the vicinity, S. jacobaea was also found in intensively grazed pastures and in meadows of moderate management intensity (two cuts). We conclude that long-term control of S. jacobaea can best be achieved by avoiding sward damage and by preventing the species’ seed formation in the pasture and local vicinity.
Article
. 1Removal field experiments and observational studies have been undertaken to determine whether feeding by cinnabar moth Tyria jacobaeae L. on the flower heads of ragwort Senecio jacobaea L. affects the abundance of the fly Pegohylemyia seneciella (Meade) that feeds in the flower heads as a larva.2Correlations between the population density of cinnabar moth and the population density of the fly were suggestive of habitat separation, but provided little evidence of exploitation competition.3Removal of cinnabar moth by hand from replicated plots over two years shows that, in years when ragwort flower production is consumed by cinnabar moth caterpillars, the fly may show no recruitment at all.4Fly populations persist in refugia, exploiting ragwort plants that grow in areas where there are no cinnabar moth.5Recruitment of ragwort is not seed limited, so the reduction in seed production caused by P. seneciella (maximum about 30%) has no impact on ragwort abundance, or on the abundance of cinnabar moth.6We conclude that there is strong interspecific competition between these two species, and that the competition is highly asymmetric. The cinnabar moth had a substantial effect on the recruitment of the fly in 1986, but the fly has no measurable impact on the recruitment of the moth. In six years out of seven in our long-term study, cinnabar moth reduced flower production to levels comparable to those measured in 1986, and we infer that strong competition with the fly was likely in six years out of seven.7One reason why there are so few published examples of asymmetric interspecific competition may be simply that the experiments are thought too obvious to be worth doing. We argue that this is not a good reason for eschewing manipulative field experiments, and that few processes in ecology are at all obvious when investigated in detail.
Economic and regional benefits from the biological control of tansy ragwort, Senecio jacobaea
  • E M Coombs
  • H Radtde
  • D L Isaacson
  • S P Snyder
Coombs, E.M., H. Radtde, D.L. Isaacson and S.P. Snyder. 1997. Economic and regional benefits from the biological control of tansy ragwort, Senecio jacobaea, in Oregon. Proceedings of the IX International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds, pp. 489-494. V.C. Moran and J.H. Hoffmann (Eds). 19-26 January 1996. Stennenbosch, South Africa. University of Cape Town.
Biological Control of Invasive Plants in the United States
  • E M Coombs
  • J K Clark
  • G L Piper
  • A F Cofrancesco
Coombs, E.M., J.K. Clark, G.L. Piper and A.F. Cofrancesco, Jr. (Eds). 2004. Biological Control of Invasive Plants in the United States. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press. 467 pp.
Can the occurrence of Senicio jacobaea be influenced by management practice? Interspecific competition and tolerance to defoliation in four grassland species
  • M Suter
  • S Siegrist-Maag
  • J Connolly
  • A Lüscher Del-Val
  • M J Crawley
Suter, M., S. Siegrist-Maag, J. Connolly, and A. Lüscher. 2007. Can the occurrence of Senicio jacobaea be influenced by management practice? Weed Research 47: 262-269. del-Val, E. and M.J. Crawley. 2004. Interspecific competition and tolerance to defoliation in four grassland species. Canadian Journal of Botany 82: 871-877.