bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Stinking Willie Week

Root Out Ragwort Week is actually next week, but here in Hampshire, ragwort has been in full flower for quite some time and I wonder if uprooting it now will have any effect on its seed-setting.

Ragwort -- known as Stinking Willie in Scotland -- has long been regarded as a pernicious weed. With its bright yellow flowers commonly seen along roadsides, railways and in fields, ragwort is poisonous to horses and livestock -- Ingestion of the weed causes liver damage which is cumulative.

Bees like it, but beekeepers don't. Its honey is reputed to have a nasty strong bitter taste.

It is estimated that some 500 horses died as a result of ragwort poisoning each year. Common ragwort is classed as an injurious weed under the 1959 Weeds Act and it is an offence to allow it to spread. Each plant can produce 150,000 seeds, which carry in the air, and can remain dormant for up to two decades. Events during this week are co-ordinated by the British Horse Society.

I notice that there was once some sort of ragwort apologist site (cache), but it has been weeded out.

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