Ragwort and Japanese Knotweed



Recognising common ragwort

Young plants of common ragwort appear in the autumn to early June period, as low rosettes in pasture and bare ground. The leaves on the young plant can vary in shape widely but are all usually a deep bottle-green with a purple ting and a slightly glossy surface on the upper part of the leaves.

In the later year of the plants growth the rosettes mature and produce steams that can then flower in the late June period. These can be seen as a cluster of bright yellow flowers with daisy-like flower heads and few centimetres in diameter. These are usually cluster in dense flat topped cluster that is held up by a steam that can grow from between 30cm and 1 meter in height.

Disposal of common ragwort

First it must be noted that Common Ragwort is a toxic plant and so suitable protection and precaution should be used when handling both live and dead plants.  All skin should be covered allowing no contact with any part of the skin, plus a face mask should be used to avoid any inhalation of the plants pollen or any other airborne particles the planet may emit.

If ragwort comes into contact with bare skin, the area should be thoroughly washed in warm soapy water, rinsed and dried.

Once adequate precautions have been taken the best approach is to cut the plant down and remove all the plant material from the ground. Be aware once cut the plant is still able to spread it seeds for some time, so all materials from the plant should put in sealed in bags or put in enclosed containers it should also be transported in the same manner.

The plant could also be got rid of by rotting down by using a compost bin, however this only works when the plant material is in small quantities.  There is also the option of controlled burning this also can only be done for small quantities of plant material that has been safely wilted prior to burning, however larger amounts can be burned as well with the right permission to do so. Where large scale amounts of common ragwort occur and cannot be disposed of onsite it is suggested to use a waste management company to dispose of the plant material.


  • remains toxic when sprayed, cut, dug or pulled
  • once cut, the flower can set seed
  • seeds remain viable and can be easily dispersed
  • in its fresh state (un-wilted) is difficult to burn
  • is bulky to transport
  • can only be composted in controlled conditions
  • should only be transported in sealed bags/containers

Key Pointers


  • read the Code of Practice on how to prevent the spread of Ragwort.
  • select on-site disposal where possible.
  • select the most appropriate disposal option.
  • always use gloves and clothing that covers exposed skin e.g. arms and legs.
  • wash exposed skin thoroughly after handling material and before eating.
  • ensure that any contractors hired for the disposal are properly registered and or licensed. (Check with the Environment Agency).


  • bury in manure heaps.
  • use as animal bedding.
  • dig, bury or plough into the ground.
  • attempt to dry ragwort where animals may gain access to it.
  • allow seed dispersal from plant residues that are awaiting disposal.
  • transport ragwort unnecessarily.
  • transport ragwort unless it is in sealed bags or containers.

Reporting ragwort

Telephone: 01926 412515

Email: countyhighways@warwickshire.gov.uk

Code of practice for landowners

A statutory code of practice provides structured advice to landowners and will help them prevent the spread of ragwort.

Under the Weeds Act 1959 the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs can, if satisfied that injurious weeds are growing upon any land, serve a notice requiring the occupier to take action to prevent the spread of those weeds. An unreasonable failure to comply with a notice is an offence. The Weeds
Act applies to:

  • Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea)
  • Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
  • Creeping or Field Thistle (Cirsium arvense)
  • Curled Dock (Rumex crispus)
  • Broad-Leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius)

The Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 delegates the functions available to the Secretary of State under the Weeds Act to Natural England, a Defra agency. This delegation of functions enables Natural England to investigate complaints where there is a risk that injurious weeds might spread to neighbouring land. Natural England gives priority to investigating complaints where there is a risk of weeds spreading to land used for grazing horses or livestock, land used for forage production and other agricultural activities.

The Ragwort Control Act 2003 gives the Code of Practice on How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort evidential status in any proceedings taken under the Weeds Act 1959. This means that a failure to follow the Code is not an offence but non-compliance may be used as evidence in any legal action. Equally, owners/occupiers should be able to establish a defence if they can demonstrate that they have adopted control measures that comply with the Code’s guidance.

Statutory code of practice to prevent the spread of Ragwort

Japanese Knotweed

Recognising Japanese Knotweed

Japanese_KnotweedJapanese knotweed can be recognised by the upright hollow bamboo like stem the plant grows, the shovel like green leaves that appear on the plant and in later summer early autumn the plant produces creamy white flowers.

Disposal of Japanese Knotweed

Disposing of the plant needs to be done in the confined of the property in which it has appeared, as dumping it in another location would just allow the plant to spread again. The stems can’t regrow as the plant has been dried out; the indicator that the plant has dried out is the steams should turn a dark brown colour. These stems would then be suitable for composting, while those stems that have been pulled out and the crown of the plant would not be suitable for composting, if local bylaws permit bonfires, canes can be pulled and dried on polythene sheets prior to careful burning. Anything that can’t be disposed of in your garden must be taken to licensed disposal sites that can get rid of the plant.

If you have knotweed is within your property the best option is to eradicate it. The herbicides that could be used are any product that contains glyphosate, the active ingredient in products such as ‘Roundup’. Other herbicides that could be use are those that contain Triclopyr. Triclopyr cannot be used near drains or any other water courses and glyphosate needs permission from the Environment agency to use near water. These herbicides should be applied during growing season for the plant this is when the green leaves start appear, the effects of the herbicides should be seen within 14-21 days and eradication can take a minimum of two sprays and it can take a least three years of treatment to completely eradicate the plant. Be aware growth in the last year of treatment can be difficult to spot so care must be taken to recognise the plant.

Japanese Knotweed Do’s and Don’ts


  • Fly-tip Japanese Knotweed or any other garden waste.
  • Contaminate green waste composting with Japanese Knotweed material
  • Accept topsoil unless you have first inspected it for knotweed rhizome
  • Do not delay. If you find you have knotweed growing on your land you should eradicate it.



  • Use suggested techniques to control of Japanese Knotweed.
  • Ensure that herbicides are used safety and effectively.
  • Ensure that knotweed is burned or composed thoroughly within the grounds of your property
  • Co-operate with neighbours if Knotweed is problem across boundaries.

For more information:


Ragwort and Japanese Knotweed was last updated on July 16, 2018.