AS someone who has studied ragwort for many years I was perturbed by Elizabeth G Lloyd's recent letter ('I am very concerned about ragwort', August 26).

Ragwort is indeed toxic but the risk to animals is often exaggerated.

Research internationally shows that poisoning is rare.

There are only problems when it is fed in quantity in hay or when animals are cruelly starved into eating it. It doesn't in scientific terms meet the standard required to be "highly toxic" as was claimed.

A series of adverts repeating scare stories about the plant have been subject to action by the Advertising Standards Authority, but sadly these stories still circulate on social media.

Ragwort is native to the UK and one of the most ecologically important wildflowers. 35 insect species totally rely on it for food including 7 moth and 7 beetle species. Another 83 species are recorded as using it often as a significant food source, with a further estimated 50 species of parasite in turn feeding on those.

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In addition to these 133 species, ragwort is a significant source of nectar for others including bee species that specialise in feeding on yellow daisies type flowers and many species of butterfly.

Government research shows that of over 7,000 plant species in Britain ragwort is the 7th most important nectar-producing plant.

It does have another more historic use. It is particularly ironic in this context that it was once used as a herbal treatment for hysteria.