Ragwort is a widespread and abundant weed throughout much of Southland.

What is it?

Ragwort is an erect biennial or perennial weed that reproduces from crowns, roots and seeds. Mature plants are 30 – 120 centimetres in height, have stems that are reddish/purple at the base and have bright yellow flowers.

What is the problem?

Ragwort is a pasture weed that can spread rapidly and invade areas previously without ragwort. This can lead to reduced pasture production and on-going maintenance. The toxic substances contained in ragwort can cause liver damage in grazing animals, especially cattle and horses.

How to control it

Ragwort can be controlled via the following methods:

Control methodExample
Maintain a dense pasture in autumn to out-compete and prevent ragwort from germinating.
Herbicide control
Spraying. Please visit your local rural supplies retailer for advice about and purchasing suitable herbicides.
Biological controlInsects such as the ragwort flea beetle and ragwort plume moth reduce the vigour of ragwort. Read more about biocontrol options.

For details on control methods, see our factsheet on Ragwort.


Ragwort is a suppression plant throughout the Southland region. It is too well established to eradicate, so our aim is to prevent it spreading onto neighbouring properties.


Land occupiers within the Southland region must destroy all ragwort, before seeding, on land they occupy, within 50 metres of boundaries with neighbouring properties and watercourses.

For a full explanation of the rules for ragwort see the Regional Pest Management Strategy.


Environment Southland monitors Southland properties for ragwort each year. We also respond to complaints received about ragwort from neighbouring landowners.

Page reviewed: 09 May 2016 10:51am