Spread of poisonous ragwort

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The poisonous ragwort leads to liver damage and liver cancer

For some years now, the highly poisonous ragwort has been spreading in Germany and increasingly in the state of Bavaria. Even small amounts of the herb are enough to cause severe damage to the liver. Because the toxic St. Jacob's herb looks very similar to the natural medicinal plant St. John's wort, some people have already poisoned themselves severely and sometimes fatally.

Jacobskeuzkkaut's prevalence has increased
For years, Jacobskeuzkkaut has been spreading more and more in Bavaria. Even the smallest amount can lead to severe poisoning and liver damage. Grazing animals such as cows and horses are particularly at risk. Because the herb looks very similar to other plants, poisoning occurs again and again in humans.

Liver damage and liver cancer
The herb with its yellow flowers actually looks very handsome. However, the contained pyrrolizidine alkaloids can cause liver damage and in the worst case even provoke liver cancer. Unborn children are particularly at risk if mothers drink their own “health tea” during pregnancy and, instead of St. John's wort, drink the flowers of St. Jacob's herb because of the risk of confusion. However, touching the plant alone is completely safe.

In 2009 Kreuz-Kraut was also found in a salad package with rocket in the supermarket. Fortunately, the find remained an isolated case. The leaves of ragwort and arugula look very similar and can be confused very quickly for non-experts. Experts therefore advise that only experts should plant herbs in the garden or collect them in forests and meadows. "Anyone brewing herbal teas or collecting wild herbs for a salad should be particularly knowledgeable," advises Klaus Gehring, an expert in weed control at the Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture. Experts report that milk or meat from “contaminated animals” are not a danger to humans.

A senior died in 2011 because he had drunk an herbal tea contaminated with cross herb, reports Klaus Gehring from the Bavarian State Research Center for Agriculture.

Jakobskraut can be found especially on steep slopes and pastures. But the plants can also be found more and more frequently in the home garden. "The plant is perennial: only the green leaves can be seen in the first year, and it only blooms yellow in the second year."

Authorities report that the ragwort can be found in the region around Nuremberg, in some areas of the Bavarian Forest and in Swabia. In the Allgäu, however, there are other types of ragwort. "The poisonous water ragwort grows here," said the plant experts. Around 30 types of cross herbs grow in Germany. Four of them are toxic and hazardous to health.

The spread of the plant is similar to that of a dandelion. The plants can settle very well on open soils and spread like dandelions. If the grass areas are closed, the herb can not or hardly spread.

Cows and horses at high risk
The poisonous plant is very dangerous for grazing cows and horses. If they are devoured, they accumulate in the organism and gradually decompose the vital organ liver. So far, there are no medical countermeasures to stop the symptoms of poisoning. Goats and hotsters, on the other hand, are able to break down some of the toxins, as Zurich agricultural researchers found. The poison is already absorbed in the foreskin. However, the animals seem to avoid the herb because of the smell and because it tastes bitter. Therefore poisoning mostly affects young animals. According to the agricultural researchers, organic farmers are apparently affected above average because they do not use any chemical substances for weed removal.

Dried plants are also highly toxic
The poisonous plants also pose a danger when dry. The toxic content remains just as effective in hay or silage as in fresh plants. "There is a particular danger, however, because the cross herb loses its bitter taste and the animals then still consume the feed," as the ragwort working group recently warned of an association of animal owners, veterinarians and farmers.

Rapid action required if found
Farmers and garden owners should remove the cross-herb plants and their roots and burn if possible. If the herb cannot be burned, regular household waste can also be disposed of, as the ragwort working group advises. If the named plants are in the immediate vicinity of pasture or usable areas, the herb should be removed. Successful resistance can be the use of herbicides and alternative measures such as frequent fertilization and mowing of pastures. "This is how the poisonous herb can be displaced!" (Sb)

Author and source information

Video: Insects on Common Ragwort


  1. Cynhard

    Now everything has become clear, many thanks for the help in this matter.

  2. Deen

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