Thursday, August 8, 2013

Twelve Plants NOT to Have in Your Pasture

 No matter what part of the country you live in, there will always be poisonous plants to watch out for---blue bonnets in the South and oleanders in the West, to name a few. Because they can be potentially dangerous to your horse, make sure to rid your pasture and the surrounding area of any of the plants i will mention below. Also make sure to contact your local U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension office for more extensive list of poisonous plants near you.
Bracken Fern(Pteridum aquilinum): Bracken fern is a two to three feet tall perennial fern with triangular leaves. It is seen throughout the country, except in dry deserts, and can be found woodlands; wet, open fields; and any other moist climate. When eaten, it can cause depression, loss of coordination, blindness, and other neural dysfunctions. Call your vet immediately if you suspect your horse has eaten a bracken fern. For the next two weeks or so, your vet will administer large doses of thiamin to your horse.

Hemlock(Conium maculatum): Hemlock is another perennial plant. Growing to be up to six feet tall, this parsley-like plant looks similar to Queen Anne's lace, except for the fact that it has purple spots near the base of the stem. It is seen all around the country, usually near roadsides or in open areas. Symptoms of eating hemlock usually appear within an hour of eating it. The horse may appear nervous, colicky, and trembly, and may lose coordination, breathe heavily, and his heart may slow. There is no cure. Death often occurs from failure in the respiratory system. If the horse consumed only a little, the veterinarian may be able to help. 

(Sudan grass is similar to
Johnsongrass and Sudan Grass(Sorghum halepense and Sorghum bicolor subsp. drummondii): Johnsongrass and Sudan grass are often seen along roadsides in the South, as well as in open areas.  They are tall, coarse grasses with large, veined leaves and multi-branched seed heads. Symptoms include: fast respiration, tremors, and constant urination or defecation. drugs can slow these effects. 

Locoweed(Astragalus spp. or Oxytropis spp.): Locoweed is a short, leafy plant with white or purple flowers, and grows in small tufts throughout the deserts in the West and Southwest. It causes a horse to act very oddly. Severity of symptoms depend on how much was consumed, and may include raising its legs high, staggering, and nodding its head. The symptoms are permanent. 

Milkweed(Asclepias spp.): Milkweed, the Monarch butterfly's primary food source, is toxic to all equines. It is found in both dry and swampy areas in the United States. When cut or broken, it secretes a milky substance(thus its name). All parts of this plant, including the narrow leafs(broad in  some cases) and the fruit, a silky pouch filled with seeds, are poisonous. A horse that has consumed milkweed will lose of coordination, salivate, have seizures, and even become colicky. If not treated with gastrointestinal detoxification and the treatment for heart arrhythmias immediately, the horse could die within two days. 


Oleander(Nerium oleander): Oleander is a tall, evergreen shrub with large clusters of white, pink, or red flowers, and is popular in hot, arid climates, particularly the West. Symptoms, with occur shortly after ingestion. They may include colic, respiratory distress,  an irregular heart, and a pulse that is either very slow or very fast. Early treatment and veterinarian care is paramount. Activated charcoal can be used to slow the toxins, and drugs are used to stabilize the heart. 

Red Maple
Red Maple Tree(Acer rubrum): Red maple trees, a common type tree found all over North America, has green leaves that turn scarlet in the fall. Symptoms can appear in a few days or even a few hours. They include: lethargy, refusal of food, red or black urine, pale yellow or dark brown mucus membranes, dehydration, and rapid heartbeat. The veterinarian will give the affected horse lots of IV fluids, an amy even give it a blood transfusion. If care was prompt a very little leaves were eaten, the horse will most likely recover. 

Russian Knapweed

Russian Knapweed and Yellow Star Thistle(Acroptilon repens and Centauria solstitialis): Yellow star thistle has round yellow flowers in between sharp spines. Russian knapweed is similar, except 
Yellow Star Thistle
the flowers are purple or white and there are no spines. Both grow along roadsides, in fields, and in pastures throughout the West(every state from Missouri to California). Symptoms, which are permanent, include inability to chew properly and clenched facial muscles. 

      Tansy Ragwort(Senecio spp.): Tansy ragwort, a biennial weed, looks like little rosettes the first year adn progress to multi-stemmed flowers the second. Their flows are flat and daisy-like. One-hundred-twleve species exist in the United States, but fortunately only seven are poisonous to 
Tansy Ragwort
livestock. They appear along roadsides and in pastures. Symptoms are hard to see until signs of liver failure begin to appear. There is no cure. 

Yew(Taxus spp.): Yew, an evergreen shrub, has flat, needle-like leaves and red or yellow berries with a black seed on the end. Sometimes yew trimmings are thrown into pastures. Symptoms include trembling and rapid heart rate. There is know treatment, and sudden death is not uncommon.

This post has been linked to the HomeAcre Hop.

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