Regulation of Senecio jacobaea L. (ragwort) in nature conservation grasslands

The ragwort (Senecio jacobaea, JKK) is a native plant of Schleswig-Holstein in the propagation process. Especially in the area of the High Geest and the Eastern Hills, the once scattered species has now developed extensive mass populations in many places. This also affects many extensive pastures managed under nature conservation aspects by the Nature Conservation Foundation.

The strong increase of the ragwort populations is problematic since the plant hinders the development and the preservation of species- and flower-rich grasslands. It also produces pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which can pose a health risk to grazing animals and humans.

Due to the ragwort problem, a clear decline in the acceptance of nature conservation-based restrictions on use by farmers and the population can be observed. Farmers' fears that grassland managed under nature conservation aspects is harmful to their livestock can ultimately lead to the abandonment of use and thus to the loss of valuable grassland stocks for nature conservation purposes.

The now widespread occurrence of ragwort is controlled by an interplay of ecological processes on a local and landscape scale and local management. The overall objective of the project is to gain a better understanding of those ecological processes that decisively influence the local occurrence and abundance of Senecio jacobaea in interaction with agricultural and nature conservation management (and therefore the success of the latter). This is to be achieved over a period of five years:

(1) the drivers of the presence of ragwort at the landscape level, and

(2) to investigate the influence of mechanical management methods on ragwort populations on a local scale.


Project information

Duration: 2015-2021

Project participants: Henrike Möhler M.Sc., Prof. Dr. Tim Diekötter, Dr. John Herrmann, Prof. Dr. Tobias W. Donath


Stiftung Naturschutz Schleswig-Holstein

JKK-Kompetenzzentrum der Stiftung Naturschutz Schleswig Holstein