Letters: Spare the weeds

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Sir: The answer to Mr Duff Hart-Davis' article on ragwort poisoning horses ("The catcher in the rye", 18 September) can be found in The Flora of The British Isles by Clapham, Tutin and Warburg, which says ragwort is a weed of "waysides and neglected or overgrazed pastures".

Here is the remedy for ragwort. Stop overgrazing.

His article goes on to dismiss docks, thistles, fat hen and nettles as "useless to the human race". However, three species of butterfly lay their eggs exclusively on nettles (small tortoiseshell, red admiral and peacock). The painted lady butterfly lays eggs only on thistles and the small copper only on the dock family.

In addition, all adult butterflies feed on nectar which ragwort and thistles supply copiously. Birds such as linnet, goldfinch, greenfinch, bullfinch and red poll feed on the seeds of thistle, docks and fat hen etc.

Mr Duff Hart-Davis may welcome the elimination of such weeds (and thus their dependent wildlife) but I and my friends rely on these things for some of our spiritual well-being.