MYTH: Ragwort is "extremely toxic" to horses.

FALSE . This claim was made by the British Horse Society in a survey in 2014. It over estimates the toxicity of ragwort by around TEN THOUSAND TIMES! See Ragwort is not extremely toxic

MYTH: There is a reliable test that can be performed to prove an animal has ragwort poisoning.

FALSE . Ragwort is only one of a large number of plants that contain the same substances and the diagnostic tests show the same result for other things including toxins produced by mould species that may grow on stored hay, silage or other feed. See Ragwort poisoning no test can confirm it 100%

MYTH: Ragwort is an "invasive weed." A term scientists use for a problematic foreign plant that has invaded the UK

FALSE . Ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris formerly called Senecio jacobaea) is a common native British Plant. You may be confusing it with Oxford Ragwort which is a foreign coloniser. See Ragwort is NOT an invasive weed

MYTH: Ragwort has increased in the UK and is spreading across the country like a plague.

Sources for this myth

FALSE. Ragwort like all other wildflowers subject to regular surveys by botanists. The recent surveys show its distribution has not changed significantly since the 1960s. The 2007 UK Countryside Survey shows significant declines of ragwort.

MYTH: A sudden dramatic crash and disappearance of the Cinnabar Moth population has caused a plague of Ragwort.

Sources for this myth

FALSE. The cinnabar moth, whose caterpillars eat ragwort , has declined but this is in numbers not distribution. The Rothamstead survey moths traps that were catching them still are but in reduced numbers. Since the ragwort population is declining or stable rather than increased the evidence is firmly against this myth. As stated above there is no real ragwort plague.

MYTH: Under the Weeds Act 1959 landowners must by law control Ragwort on their land.

Sources for the legal myths

FALSE. The 1959 weeds act gives the Government the power to order a landowner to prevent certain weeds from spreading. However without such an order, there is no legal obligation on a landowner to do anything. See Ragwort and the law.

MYTH: Under the Ragwort Control Act 2003 landowners must by law control Ragwort on their land.

Sources for the legal myths

FALSE. This act provides for the government to produce a guide to ragwort control. It places no obligation on landowners at all. See Ragwort Control Act 2003.

MYTH: Under the Town and Country Planning Act Section 215 landowners must by law control on their land.

See this link for a debunking of the story which carried this and other myths in Your Horse magazine

FALSE. This act provides for powers for councils to order landowners to tidy up unkempt areas. This isn't meant to cover ragwort and doesn't create any automatic liability anyway. See Town and Country Planning Act Section 215

MYTH: The law says that government departments or local councils must control ragwort.

Sources for the legal myths

FALSE. There is no obligation in any of the legislation. There is no obligation on local councils and the powers granted to DEFRA and its equivalent bodies are discretionary.

MYTH: It's not an offence for ragwort to grow in certain areas, but spread of ragwort onto high-risk land is an offence.

FALSE. This is a direct quote from The British Horse Society's Ragwort Toolkit. but as all the other myths about the law it is false.

MYTH: Ragwort is a "Notifiable Weed"

FALSE. There is no such thing as a notifiable weed under UK law. There is no obligation to tell anyone about Ragwort . See Ragwort the Notifiable weed falsehood

MYTH: A tiny amount of Ragwort will kill a horse or a cow.

FALSE. Research has shown that a very significant amount of Ragwort is required to kill. This can be several stone in weight. See How toxic is Ragwort .

MYTH: Every tiny amount of ragwort consumed will cause damage.

FALSE. The biochemistry shows that this is not the case. See Ragwort cumulative.

MYTH: Ragwort can poison a horse even when it is not in a field.

This quote comes from Equiworld magazine and it has been repeated elsewhere."It has been said that horses can get Ragwort poisoning without the plants growing in their fields. Spores or seeds or both get carried by wind from anywhere where people are irresponsible enough not to pull those plants up in their gardens or fields. Horses will inhale the seeds or spores whilst grazing and the slow process of poisoning will begin."

FALSE. Ragwort has seeds not spores! It is highly unlikely that any seeds would enter a horse through breathing. Research has shown that the overwhelming vast majority of seeds do not disperse far from the parent plant. (See ragwort dispersal) In any case the scientific literature shows takes a very large quantity of Ragwort to poison a horse. The seeds present no threat.

MYTH: The Meat from animals that have eaten ragwort is toxic.

FALSE. It is only the damage from prolonged heavy exposure that does damage to the animals.The toxins do not persist in the meat. See Ragwort Meat

MYTH: It is OK to uproot ragwort where ever you see it

FALSE. It is illegal to uproot any wild plant if you are not authorised by the owner or occupier of the land on which it grows See Ragwort is sometimes protected.

MYTH: The alkaloids in ragwort build up in animals' livers

FALSE. In 2008 the Scottish Government issued a consultation on ragwort containing the following quote "Chronic ragwort poisoning is most common as PAs [pyrrolizidine Alkaloids] build up in the liver over time." Despite being a government publication this is WRONG. The alkaloids DO NOT build up in the liver only the damage that they can do does. It is a good example of the poor understanding of ragwort that is prevalent even in official circles.

MYTH: Ragwort is a risk to the health of dogs.

Sources for the dog myth

FALSE. Dogs are not threatened by ragwort as it is not toxic enough and they do not eat it. See Ragwort and dogs

MYTH: 70% of Ragwort Seeds can germinate after 20 years in the soil.

FALSE. The British Horse Society made this claim on their website. The apparent source of the 20 years figure is a scientific paper predicting when only 1% of the seeds could germinate See Ragwort germination myth

MYTH: Common ragwort may have contaminated bread and poisoned people in South Africa.

FALSE. This claim was made by Professor Derek Knottenbelt but the experts in South Africa say that our ragwort does not occur there and the literature says it was other species of plants. See Ragwort South Africa Myth

MYTH: Ragwort is poisoning the cinnabar moth and causing its population to decline.

FALSE. This crazy idea is another one associated with Professor Knottenbelt. The cinnabar is reliant on ragwort as its food and is not poisoned by it, See Ragwort does not poison the cinnabar moth.

Some of these myths have led to action by the advertising regulator in the UK. See British Horse Society and Advertising Standards Authority

Some have also occurred on a Facebook forum discussing Ragwort Awareness Week