Metchosin Coun. Moralea Milne

Noxious weed endangers horses, Metchosin animal advocates say

Tansy ragwort – an invasive plant that has bright yellow flowers and can be found along roadways – can be toxic to horses or cows

Tansy ragwort plants are in full bloom and need to be pulled before they seed, say several animal advocates in Metchosin.

The invasive plant has bright yellow flowers and can be found along roadways, similar to Scotch broom. While broom is known to cause some allergies in humans, the ragwort causes problems for animals.

It can be toxic if consumed by horses, cows or goats.

“It combines with enzymes in their liver and makes the animals ill,” said Metchosin Coun. Moralea Milne. “It’s cumulative.”

Once ingested it can lead to liver failure and even death. The flowers of the plant contain the majority of potential toxins.

Milne pulls out the plant whenever she sees it. The invasive plant is not as overwhelming as other species, but it’s becoming more of an issue.

If people start to help get the ragwort population under control it won’t get out of hand in the way that Scotch broom has.

“Everytime I walk down Kangaroo Road I pick some,” said Kathy Atherton, trails liaison for the Metchosin Equestrian Society, adding she believes the plant can be kept at bay. “It’s easy to pull. In parts people are patrolling it’s working.”

It’s peak season for ragwort right now and very soon the plant will go to seed. The seeds from the plant can remain active in the soil for up to 20 years.

“Then, when there is any disturbance to the seed bank, it can germinate,” Milne said.

The invasive plants have little yellow flowers and are super easy to pull out of the ground due to its shallow root system.

“If you see it you should pull it out,” Milne said.

charla@goldstreamgazette.com