Senecio jacobaea

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaAsteraceaeSenecioSenecio jacobaea


A biennial or perennial herb, widespread in grassland and especially abundant in neglected, rabbit-infested or overgrazed pastures; it also grows on sand dunes, in scrub, open woods and along woodland rides, waste ground, road verges and waysides, and on rocks, screes and walls. 0-670 m (Atholl, E. Perth, and on Mangerton, S. Kerry).



World Distribution

Eurosiberian Temperate element.

© H. Higgins, IWNHAS

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 4

Reaction (Ellenberg): 6

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 4


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.6

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 14.5

Annual Precipitation (mm): 1102

Life form information

Height (cm): 125

Perennation - primary


Perennation - secondary

Biennial, including monocarpic perennials

Life Form - primary


Comment on Life Form

The books differ as to whether normally biennial or perennial.



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Clonality - secondary

Clones formed by suckering from roots

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2725

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 982

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 14

Atlas Change Index: 0.11

Weighted Changed Factor: 4

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (271a)
Bain JF
1991.  The biology of Canadian weeds. 96. Senecio jacobaea L. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 71:127-140.
Grime JP, Hodgson JG, Hunt R
1988.  Comparative Plant Ecology.
Harper JL, Wood WA
1957.  Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 62. Senecio jacobaea L. Journal of Ecology. 45:617-637.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Meusel H, Jäger EJ
1992.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 3. 2 vols.
Wardle DA
1987.  The ecology of ragwort (Senecio jacobaea L.) - a review. New Zealand. Journal of Ecology. 10:67-76.