South African ragwort – Senecio inaequidens and Madagascar Ragwort – Senecio madagascariensis
Madagascar and South African ragworts are invasive plants that reduce biodiversity. If ingested, they can cause liver damage to people and livestock. They can out-compete native vegetation such as grasses and other low-growing plants. South African ragwort can invade open natural areas such as sand dunes.
Where they're found
Madagascar and South African ragworts have not been found in Canada. They are native to southern Africa. Madagascar ragwort has been introduced into Argentina, Australia, Columbia, Japan, Kenya, Mauritius, Réunion, and the state of Hawaii in the United States. It is causing serious problems in Australia and Hawaii. South African ragwort has been found in many European countries and in Taiwan.
What they look like
Madagascar and South African ragworts are herbaceous, short-lived perennial plants. The plants are 60-100 cm tall and produce between 2 and 200 small, daisy-like, golden yellow flowers. The leaves are long and narrow.
How they spread
The long hairs of the plants allow their seeds to stick to birds and animals. The seeds are primarily spread by wind, but they can also spread through soil movement, road and rail vehicles, building materials, hay, grain, ornamental plants, livestock, and wool. Contaminated clothing and personal belongings are possible pathways for entry into Canada due to the high frequency of human travel between Canada and the current habitats of these plants.
Madagascar and South African ragworts are regulated as pests in Canada under the Plant Protection Act. These species are also listed as prohibited noxious weeds on the Weed Seeds Order, 2016 under the Seeds Act. Importation and domestic movement of regulated plants and their propagative parts is prohibited.
What you can do about them
- Leave natural items in their natural habitats.
- Use clean, high-quality seed that is certified if possible.
- Avoid moving seeds and plant materials on your clothes, footwear, camping gear and vehicles.
- Contact your local Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) office if you suspect you have found this invasive plant. The CFIA will follow up and determine if further action is needed.
To find out more, visit www.inspection.gc.ca/invasive.
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