Poisonous Plants PDF Print E-mail

ú                            Poisonous Plants                            ú
ú                        Extension Goat Handbook                         ú
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DOCN 000000025
NO   C-4
AU   D. L. Ace
          L. J. Hutchinson; Pennsylvania State U., University Park
RV   G. F. W. Haenlein; U. of Delaware, Newark
DE   Nutrition

1        Factors contributing to plant poisoning are starvation, accidental
     eating and browsing habits of  animals. Starvation is the most common
     reason.  Most woodland or swampy-ground pastures contain many species of
     poisonous plants. These are usually eaten only when animals have nothing
     else  to eat.

2        Certain plants are accidentally eaten by animals  as they graze. A
     notable example of this is water  hemlock. This plant emerges in wet
     areas which are  the first to become green in early spring. Animals
     eager to eat the fresh young grass may accidentally bite off the crown
     of this plant with fatal results.  Another type of accidental poisoning
     occurs when  large amounts of cockle are present in wheat which  is fed
     as grain.

3        Some animals on good feed in a dry lot or excellent pasture become
     bored with the same  regular diet. They may eat unpalatable weeds or
     ornamental plants growing along fences. Goats  and cattle like to vary
     the best kind of diet with a  little ''browse''. Many ornamental or wild
     shrubs  may be consumed, not because they are palatable  but because the
     animal craves variation in its diet.

4        The severity of poisoning is related to the quantity of material
     eaten, the specie of animal eating the  plant, portion of the plant and
     condition of the  plant eaten, level of ground moisture, general  health
     of the animal prior to ingesting the  substance and the age and size of
     the animal.  Therefore some livestock can eat some of the bad  plants
     and under several of the mentioned conditions, fail to show symptoms of
     injury or poisoning. At other times death may occur.

5        Scores of plants contain material toxic to  animals if eaten in
     sufficient quantity. Some of the  plants are well known, some quite
     rare, some are  useful, others are valued ornamentals. They may  be
     grouped by the type of poison contained, the  effect of their toxins or
     the part of the plant containing the poison. Some plants may contain
     several poisonous principals.

6    Cyanogenetic Plants
         These contain under certain conditions, prussic  acid (hydrocyanic
     acid), a deadly poison which interfers with the oxygen-carrying ability
     of the  blood. Death in these cases is usually rapid and  with little
     outward symptoms. Members of the  prunus family of plants, especially
     wild cherries,  are dangerous. Peaches, plums and other stone  fruits
     belong to this group of plants. Wilting of the  green leaves caused by
     frost, storm damage, or by  cutting, changes a glucoside found in the
     leaves to  hydrocyanic acid (HCN) and sugar. The sweet,  wilted leaves
     are thus more attractive to animals  than normal foliage. HCN content
     varies widely;  but under some conditions a few handfuls of leaves  may
     be enough to kill a horse or cow. This type of  poisoning should be
     suspected when sudden death  of animals follows windstorms or early
     sharp  frosts. These leaves apparently lose their poison  after they
     have become dry; the limp, green or partially yellowed leaves are the
     most dangerous.  Sudan grass and sorghums are also cyanogenetic  plants.
     These plants are usually deadly when  damaged or frozen. Aftermath
     sprouts following an early frost are particularly dangerous. Very
     little sudan grass poisoning occurs from animals  trampling down plants
     and later eating them  although this is often listed as dangerous. In
     dry  weather, sudan grass is often pastured to the  ground without ill
     effects. After sudan grass has  been repeatedly frozen and the plants
     are completely dead, it is safe but not very valuable for  pasture.

7        Once frozen, sorghum, sorghum sudan hybrids,  or their aftermath
     should never be pastured. As  long as the plants show any green color
     they may  be very poisonous. Both frosted sorghum and  sudan grass can
     be best and most safely utilized by  ensiling them for at least two
     weeks before feeding.  Normal ensilage fermentation safely eliminates
     the  poisonous principle.

8        Common milkweed, a perennial that grows three  or four feet high,
     has a heavy stem and leaves and  is frequently found in pastures. The
     milky white  sap is sticky and has a bitter taste but livestock  eat the
     topmost, tender leaves if good forage isn't  abundant. Remove plants by
     spading, pulling,  cutting or plowing extensive areas and planting to
     cultivated crops for a year or two.

9        Horse nettle is a perennial plant, two-feet-high,  with spiny stems
     and leaves, and smooth, orange-yellow berries. Fruits are more toxic
     than the  foliage. It's a common plant in grasslands and  fields and is
     a member of the nightshade family.

10       Black nightshade is an annual plant, two-feet  high, with many
     branches. Leaves are variably  smooth or hairy. The stems angled in
     cross-section  and sometimes spiny. Clusters of white flowers,
     one-fourth inch across, bloom in midsummer and  are followed by small,
     black fruits. Both the foliage  and green berries are toxic. The ripe
     berries are not  poisonous. Black nightshade is widely distributed.

11       Mountain laurel is an evergreen shrub of the Appalachian Mountain
     region. Plants grow five-feet  tall and have glossy green leaves.
     Flowers appear  in clusters at the ends of branches. Livestock eat  the
     leaves in early spring when little other foliage  is available.
     Weakness, nausea, salivation and  vomitting are symptoms of poisoning.
     The preventative is to keep livestock out of areas where mountain laurel
     is abundant.

12   Plants Containing Deadly Alkaloids
         Fortunately these plants are unpalatable for  most wild and domestic
     animals. Water hemlock  and poison hemlock are deadly. Poisoning rarely
     occurs except in early spring when young plants  are accidentally eaten,
     but the roots, stems, leaves  and flowers are always poisonous. Look for
     and  learn to identify these plants in the summer when  they are large
     and showy. The hemlocks are  members of the carrot family and have
     showy,  white, umbrella-like flower heads. Poison hemlock  needs dry
     land to grow and is often found in  gardens as an ornamental plant.
     Flowers are often  incorporated into large mixed flower sprays in  rural
     churches and at social events.

13       Water hemlock - a perennial frequently found in  wet, fertile soil -
     is a five-foot-tall plant with thick  rootstocks, doubly compound leaves
     (fernlike) and  small white flowers in umbrella-like clusters.

14       The roots are the most poisonous parts of the  plants. Cut the thick
     rootstocks lengthwise and  you'll find air cavities separated by
     plate-like partitions of solid tissue. Drops of yellowish, aromatic,
     resin-like exudate containing the poisonous  alkaloid appear at the
     cuts. Leaves and seeds contain little of the toxic substance and eaten
     in small  quantities, either green or in hay, do little harm.

15       Water hemlock starts growth in early spring. Its  green foliage may
     show up before most other  plants leaf out. Livestock tug at the tender
     leaves  and pull roots from the soil which are still soft from  late
     winter rains. The combinations of foliage and  roots in considerable
     quantity can be fatal.

16       As a preventative, pull water hemlock plants  from the soil during
     the summer when they can  readily be found and destroy them. Plants
     usually  are not numerous in an area.

17       Poison hemlock is a hollow-stemmed biennial,  four-feet high, with
     double compound leaves  resembling parsley and a large, white taproot
     like  parsnip. Flowers are showy, umbrella-like clusters  and appear in
     late summer. The poison is a volatile  alkaloid, coniine, found in the
     foliage all season and  in the seeds in late summer. Most livestock
     poisoning comes in the spring from eating fresh foliage.

18       Mayapple, bloodroot, pokeweed, nightshade and  hellebore are other
     alkaloidal plants. They are rarely  eaten except when animals are
     starving for better  feed. Deaths from alkaloidal plants usually result
     from severe digestive disturbances, pain and nervous symptoms. Animals
     usually die in convulsions.

19   Plants That Are Photodynamic
         This means photo-sensitive animals get a reaction. Conditions
     necessary for a reaction to occur  are: 1) the animals must have white
     areas of skin  (unpigmented); 2) the animals must eat a sufficient
     quantity of the plants; and 3) the animals must be  exposed to bright
     sun. In typical cases, an animal  suddenly becomes sore on the white
     areas of their  bodies. Whole areas of white skin may raise up and
     slough off. White goats may become severely affected and die from this

20       Some common plants which cause photosensitization are rape, alsike
     clover, buckwheat, lantana, St. John's wort, and ornamental hypericums.
     Both St. John's wort and ornamental hypericums  have showy,
     golden-yellow flowers. They are not  readily eaten by animals. White
     goats frequently  become badly ''sunburned'' when they are on rape
     pasture in bright, sunny weather with little or no  shade. Alsike clover
     or other legumes may produce  these symptoms in dairy goats under the
     above  conditions.

21   Plants That Produce Mechanical Injury
         A number of plants may have a spiny covering,  long beards, fine
     hairs and when eaten may cause  mechanical injuries or form hair balls
     in the  stomach and intestines. Sand bur, downy brome  grass,
     squirrel-tail grass, poverty grass, mesquite,  cocklebur and clover are
     some of the offending  plants.

22   Some Other Poisonous Plants
         Comparatively few plants containing poisons  grow in areas usually
     used as pastures.

23       Bracken fern is very common in wooded areas and  unimproved
     pastures. Most animals will not eat  bracken fern if there is adequate
     pasture or other  feed. In ruminants, such as goats, bracken fern  must
     be consumed over a period of several weeks  before toxicity signs
     develop. Affected animals are  listless, show weight loss and may
     exhibit small  hemorrhages on the mucous membranes. They may  die from
     internal hemorrhages.

24       Buttercups contain an acrid, volatile alkaloid-amenenol, strong
     enough to blister the skin and  cause inflammation of the intestinal
     tract. Cattle  and goats poisoned by buttercups produce bitter  milk and
     a reddish color. The toxic material  volatilizes and is lost when
     buttercups are dried as  in hay.

25       A heavy growth of buttercup is an indication of  low soil fertility.
     Have the soil analyzed and apply  ground lime and fertilizers as their
     need is shown.  The increased grass growth soon crowds out buttercups.

26       Poison ivy is widespread over most of the United  States. It's a
     shrub or vine with woody stems that  climb by attaching aerial rootlets
     to fences, walls,  trees, etc. Leaves have three leaflets, glossy green
     and smooth at the edges. Inflammation of the skin  from contact with the
     plants is an affliction of  goat-keepers more frequently than of goats.
     The infection can become serious and may need medical  attention. Kill
     poison ivy with a herbicide.

27       Several ornamental plants that are green outdoors or indoors are
     highly toxic. Goats should not  be fed clippings from ornamental plants.
     Common  poisonous ornamentals are yew, delphinium,  oleander, larkspur
     and lily-of-the-valley. Goats  should not be allowed access to these

28       NOTE: USDA and the State Department of Agriculture in each state can
     offer  help  in providing reference material on  poisonous plants.

29   A Listing of Some Plants Known to Cause  Problems When Eaten by
     Livestock   (Source: Stock Poisoning Plants of North Carolina, Bulletin
     No. 144, by James  Hardin; Plants  Poisonous to Livestock in the Western
     States,  USDA Information Bulletin No. 415; Poisonous  Plants of
     Pennsylvania, Bulletin No. 531,  PA  Department of Agriculture)

30   Cyanogenetic Plants (Glucosides - Glycosides)
     Arrow grass  Black Locust  Blue Cohosh Broomcarn  Buckeye (Horse
     chestnut)   Cherry  Choke Cherry  Corn Cockle Dogbane  Elderberry  Hemp
     Horse Nettle   Indian Hemp  Ivy  Johnson grass Kafir  Laurel  Leucothoe
     Lily of the Valley   Maleberry  Marijuana  Milkweeds Milo  Nightshade
     Oleander  Rhododendron   Sevenbark  Silver  Sneezewood Sorghum  Stagger
     brush  Sudan grass  Velvet grass White snakeroot  Wild Black Cherry
     Wild Hydrangea

31   Alkaloid Containing Plants
     Aconite  Allspice  Black Snake Root  Bloodroot Blue Cohosh  Boxwood
     Celandine  Common Poppy  Crotalaria  Crow Poison  Death Camas  Dicentra
     False Hellebore   False Jessamine  Fume wort  Hellebore  Hemp  Horse
     Nettle  Indian Hemp   Indian poke  Jimson weed  Larkspur  Lobelia
     Lupines  Marijuana  Monkshood   Moonseed  Night shade  Pink Death Camas
     Poison Darnel  Poison Hemlock   Poison rye grass  Rattleweed  Rock Poppy
     Spider Lily Spotted cowbane   Spotted Water Hemlock  Stagger grass
     Staggerweed  Sweet Shrub  Thorn Apple   Varebells  Wild Parsnip
     Wolfs-bane  Yellow Jessamine

32   Volatile or Essential Oils as Poisonous Principle
     Baneberry  Buttercups Crowfoot  Ground Ivy  Lobelia  Snakeberry  Spurge
     White Cohish

33   Saponin Containing Plants
     Bagpod  Coffee weed  Purple sesban  Rattlebox  Soapwort

34   Photosensitizing Plants
     Buckwheat  Goat weed  Klamath weed  Lantana  Rape  St. John's Wort

35   Plants That Cause Mechanical Injury
     Clover  Cocklebur  Downy Brome grass  Sand Bur  Squirrel tail grass

36   Tannin (Tannic Acid) as Poisonous Principle

37   Poisonous Principle Not Exactly Known
     Inkberry  Poke weed

38   Resins as Poisonous Principle
     Discarded Christmas trees  Ponderosa Pine needles
VIDF 81,82,83,84,85,86,87,88

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