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Common ragwort or cushag

Description: Usually referred to in the Isle of Man under its Manx name, 'cushag', Common Ragwort is widespread and sometimes abundant in grassland, along road verges, on waste ground and sand dunes. As the inscription on Cyril Paton's herbarium specimen implies, this species was adopted as the 'National Flower' of the Isle of Man in Victorian/Edwardian times. Modern attitudes towards this plant sit awkwardly with its status in Manx tradition, since it is notoriously poisonous to livestock, particularly horses, and is a noxious weed which must be removed annually from land by law. Despite its reputation, ragwort is useful in wildlife terms. Its flowers are attractive to flies, bees and butterflies, and the leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of the striking Cinnabar moth. On the north coast of the Island, the rare Heath Beefly, Bombylius minor, is somewhat dependent on ragwort flowers as a late summer source of nectar.

A local writer on Manx folklore, Josephine Kermode (1852-1937), published under the nom-de-plume 'cushag'. She was the sister of the first Curator of the Manx Museum (now part of Manx National Heritage), P.M.C. Kermode.

Place found: Andreas

Date found: 1931-08-08

Taxonomic name: Senecio jacobaea

Collection: Natural History Botany Collection

ID number: 2010-0027/1213


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