Acer rubrum L.—Red maple
FAMILY: Aceraceae—the Maple Family
The maples are generally well known. Flowers are completely or functionally unisexual, usually 5-merous; petals: small, separate, or lacking; stamens: often 8 (5 to 10); ovary: superior, 2-celled, producing a pair of winged, 1-seeded fruits; trees or shrubs with opposite, simple, or occasionally compound leaves.
PHENOLOGY: Acer rubrum flowers March through May; fruits mature May through June.
DISTRIBUTION: Found in swamps, moist uplands, and on alluvial soil.
PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Tree to 35 m tall; leaves sharply but shallowly lobed, coarsely double-serrate or with a few minor lobes.
POISONOUS PARTS: The leaves are responsible for livestock poisoning. Apparently only wilted leaves are toxic, with toxicity remaining in the leaves for about a month.
SYMPTOMS: Within 18 to 24 hours after consumption of red maple leaves horses begin to show yellow or brown discoloration of the mucous membranes, especially gums and eyelids, urine becomes dark red to brown, and animals become febrile (102.0-103.5°). About 50% of the horses that consume red maple leaves are affected. As many as 64% of those affected die, usually from methemoglobinemia, a destruction of hemoglobin in the blood.
POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: The toxic agent(s) is unknown.
CONFUSED TAXA: There are 10 common species of maples in eastern United States, Acer rubrum is the only maple with all of the following characteristics: simple leaves; angled, sharp sinuses between the principal leaf lobes; flowers appearing much before the opening of the leaf buds; and glabrous fruit maturing in the spring.
SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Only horses and ponies have been reported to develop toxicosis from eating red maple leaves.
TREATMENT: The best treatment is prevention. Do not graze animals in areas where red maples occur. Do not pile branches or leaves in places where stock can reach them. When removing a red maple tree from an area frequented by horses, do it in the winter when the leaves are absent.
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Actaea pachypoda Ell.—Baneberry; dolls-eyes
Actaea rubra (Ait. ) Willd.—Baneberry; dolls-eyes
FAMILY: Ranunculaceae - the Buttercup or Crowfoot Family
This is a large family of plants containing many genera, including several that produce acridnarcotic poisons. The family is so diverse that only a general description is provided. The plants are predominately herbaceous, with colorless, acrid juice; sepals: 2 to many; petals: numerous or in some species absent, with the calyx colored like the corolla; stamens: rarely few, typically very numerous; pistils: few to many and spirally arranged (1 in Actaea); fruits: dry capsules, seedlike achenes, orberries; sepals, petals, stamens, and pistils all distinct and unconnected; leaves: often dissected petioles dilated at the base, sometimes with stipulelike appendages. Many genera are cultivated for ornamental purposes, some contain medicinal properties, and one, Nigella, produces edible seeds used as an herb. In some genera the sepals or petals are saccate, producing spurs that often function as nectar-holding organs
PHENOLOGY: Actaea species flower through May and June.
DISTRIBUTION: Actaea is found in moist, rich woods. A. pachypoda occurs throughout the Commonwealth, whereas A. rubra is more often encountered in the northern half of the state.
PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Actaea has 3 to 5 petaloid, caducous sepals; petals: 4-10, deciduous, clawed; stamens: numerous, filaments elongated and widened upward; pistil: 1; stigma: broad sessile, 2 lobed; fruit: a several-seeded berry; perennial herbs to 1 meter tall from a thick rhizome; leaf blades: large, (2-) 3-ternately compound; leaflets: with sharply toothed margins; flowers: small, white in dense, long-stalked terminal racemes. Actaea pachypoda has white fruit (rarely red), the stigma wider than the ovary, and very stout fruiting pedicels. Actaea rubra has red fruit (rarely white). The stigma more narrow than the ovary and slender fruiting pedicels.
POISONOUS PARTS: All parts, especially roots and berries, are toxic. As few as six berries have been reported to cause severe symptoms.
SYMPTOMS: Conditions include gastroenteritis with associated acute stomach cramps, dizziness, vomiting, increased pulse, delirium, circulatory failure, and headache. Symptoms usually disappear after 3 hours. Losses of life in the United States have not been reported for these plants; however, the European literature chronicles deaths of children after eating berries of a European species of baneberry
POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: The toxic compound is unknown but probably is an essential oil or poisonous glycoside.
CONFUSED TAXA: The (2-)3-ternately compound leaves resemble many species of forest plant. However, the conspicuous fruits (either white or red) terminated by a black "button" (aging stigma) are characteristic of Actaea.
SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Both livestock and humans are susceptible to Actaea toxins.
TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (26)
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Aesculus spp.—Horse-chestnut; buckeye
FAMILY: Hippocastanaceae—the Horse-chestnut Family
This family consists of trees or shrubs with opposite, palmately compound leaves composed of 5 to 7 serrated leaflets. Flowers are zygomorphic, perigynous with an extra staminal, often 1-sided disk; sepals: 5, united at least half their length; petals: 4 or 5, white, yellow, or red, clawed; stamens: 5-8. with elongated and often exserting filaments; ovary: 3-celled, 2 ovules in each chamber; style: elongate; fruit: a leathery, globose capsule bearing sharp spines when young, becoming smooth in some species, eventually opening by 3 valves; seeds: 1 (subglobose), 2 (hemiglobose), or 3 (flattened sides), glossy brown, bearing a large conspicuous, light-brown scar, usually about 2.5 cm in diameter.
PHENOLOGY: Depending on the species, the flowering period can be May to June.
DISTRIBUTION: Some species are cultivated; of these a few occasionally escape and become established. Other taxa occur naturally on moist, alluvial soil, in rich moist woods, or along streams.
PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Aesculus hippocastanum L. is the common horse-chestnut. Widely cultivated, it is a tree to 25 m with variously colored, double-flowered and hybrid forms available. Older stock has the white upper and lateral petals marked with red or yellow at the base; petals number 5. Aesculus glabra Willd. (Ohio buckeye) is a small tree with yellow flowers found predominantly along river banks and in moist woods in western Pennsylvania and now introduced in the eastern part of the state; it has 4 greenish-yellow petals, long-exserted stamens, and spined fruit; Aesculus octandra Marsh. (sweet buckeye) has 4 yellow (sometimes purple or red) petals, stamens barely exserted, and smooth fruit. Cultivated species of Aesculus include the dwarf or bottle brush buckeye (A. parviflora Walt.) with white flowers and long-exserted stamens and the red horse-chestnut (A. carnea), a hybrid tree from A. hippocastanum x A. pavia
POISONOUS PARTS: Nuts (seeds), stump sprouts, bark, flowers, leaves, dried fruits, and young growth are dangerous.
SYMPTOMS: Experimental feeding of A. pavia L. produced the following symptoms on ingestion at the rate of 1% of the animal's weight: incoordination, nervous twitching of muscles, sluggishness, and excitability. It is reported that flowers are poisonous to honey bees; poisoning of humans eating honey produced from the nectar of California buckeye has been reported. In Europe, ingestion of the seeds has reportedly killed children, and leaves and dried fruits have caused loss of cattle. Other symptoms may include dilated pupils, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, paralysis, and stupor.
POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: Alkaloids, glycosides and saponins are responsible for toxicosis. One important constituent is aesculin (esculin), a lactone glycoside and hydroxy derivative of coumarin, This molecule shows a chemical relationship with the toxic substance in spoiled sweetclover hay (Melilotus spp,), which also contains coumarin glycosides. Sweet-clover poisoning is a hemorrhagic disease fatal to cattle. Loss is due to internal or external hemorrhage.
CONFUSED TAXA: The erect, large, many-flowered inflorescences may superficially resemble those of catalpa trees (Cata/pa spp.), which have large, simple, heart-shaped leaves, and the Princess Paulownia tree (Paulownia tomentosa (Thunb.) Steud.), which also has large, simple leaves. Aesculus fruits may be confused with those of several species of trees. American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.) has small, sharply 3-angled fruits. They are l-seeded and normally born in pairs within an accrescent, 4 valved involucre. The prickles of the fruit are 4-10 mm, erect to spreading or recurved and numerous. Another genus, Castanea, the chestnut, bears solitary 2-or 3-seeded fruits. These are enclosed within an accrescent, long-spined, 2-to 4- valved involucre; the stiff spines are numerous, more than 10 mm long, and often branched from the base.
SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: All classes of livestock and humans are potential victims of Aesculus poisoning upon consumption of this plant.
TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (26)
OF INTEREST: Aesculus was a source of medicinal preparations in past years. The common name horse-chestnut is derived from the belief that Turks fed a kind of "chestnut" to their horses to enable them to breathe more easily.
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Agrostemma Githago L—Corncockle
FAMILY: Caryophyllaceae—the Pink Family
This family is an economically important group because of the large number of ornamental plants it contains. These include the florist's carnation, baby's-breath, maltese cross, sandworts, pinks, and others. Only corncockle (Agrostemma Githago) and bouncing Bet (seeSaponaria) are poisonous; both are common in Pennsylvania. Characteristics of the family include: opposite leaves; petals: distinct, 5 (sometimes none); sepals: separate or connate, 5; stamens: 1-10, commonly twice as many as the petals; ovary: superior, 1- to 3-celled, mostly 1-celled with ovules (and seeds) attached to a central basal column that is not fused to the top of the ovary; stigmas and styles: 2-5; fruit: a capsule, opening at the apex by valves or teeth of the same number (or twice the number of the styles); stem: often swollen at the nodes.
PHENOLOGY: Corncockle has an extended flowering period, July through September.
DISTRIBUTION: Agrostemma Githago is widely established as a weed of grainfields and waste places. Infrequently it is cultivated as a garden plant. The seeds are difficult to separate from wheat seeds and may contaminate this product.
PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Stems: often 1 m, thinly hairy to silverish; leaves: 8-12 cm x 5-10 mm, without petiole or stipules, linear or lanceolate; Flowers: red, conspicuous; on pedicels to 2 dm, solitary at the ends of branches; calyx: fused 12-18 mm; 5 calyx lobes 2-4 cm long; petals: 5, each 2-3 cm long, notched at the apex; styles: 5; stamens: 10; Fruit: 14-18 mm, the capsule bearing numerous black seeds; seeds: covered with small warts and pits.
POISONOUS PARTS: The seeds are primarily responsible for poisonings from corncockle, however, all parts are suspected to be toxic. Seeds consumed at a concentration of 0.2-0.5% of body weight are lethal to young poultry; older birds are less susceptible.
SYMPTOMS: The toxic response includes severe gastroenteritis, acute stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, listlessness, weakness, and slow breathing.
POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: The toxin is primarily the sapogenin githagenin, which may be 5- 7 % of the weight of seeds.
CONFUSED TAXA: In our area few members of the Caryophyllaceae have large, red flowers. Some Lychnis species superficially resemble Agrostemma, but in Lychnis the petals are appendaged and the calyx lobes are much shorter than the tube. Agrostemma petals lack an appendage, and the calyx lobes are longer then the calyx tube, often surpassing the petals
SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Poultry, horses, and other livestock are susceptible. In animals that vomit freely (e.g. pigs), acute poisoning is less likely.
TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (26)
OF INTEREST: Flour milled from wheat contaminated with corncockle has caused human poisonings. Current agricultural methods have largely eliminated this problem.
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Amanita muscaria (Fr.) S.F. Gray—Fly amanita; fly mushroom; fly agaric
Amanita phalloides Fries—Death cap
FAMILY: Amanitaceae—the Amanita Family
Amanitas begin as round or oval buttons covered by a protective layer, the universal veil. The young button mushroom has small and complete gills, cap, and stalk and can be mistakenly identified as edible puffballs, often with deadly results. As the stalk grows the universal veil is torn, appearing on the expanding cap as warts or patches of tissue. If the universal veil is thick or tough, it will be split by the growing cap and stalk. The cap is then devoid of remnants, but a well formed cup, the volva, surrounds the base of the stalk. The volva occasionally remains in the soil when a specimen is collected; therefore, the absence of a basal cup on a specimen may be misleading when attempting to identify the amanitas. The gills are free from the stipe. Spores of the Amanitaceae are entire, smooth, and thin walled. A further microscopic feature is the divergent tissue in the center of the gill; it grows outward from a central strand.
DISTRIBUTION: The amanitas are found singly or in numbers under hardwoods and conifers from the spring through the fall.
PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: A. muscaria: cap: 8-24 cm across, convex or flat bright yellow to orange red, surface rough with white or yellow wartlike spots; gills and stem: white; stem: 8- 15 cm long and 20-30 mm thick; base of stem: bulbous; veil: white and persistent.
A. phalloides: This species is taxonomically complex, and occasionally several species are lumped under this name. The group includes A. verna (Bull ) Quel., A. virosa (Fr.) Quel, and A. bisporiger Atk. Recent evidence suggests that A. phalloides is rare and often confused with the more common A. brunnescens, which also is poisonous. True A. phalloides has a yellowish-green to green cap and white veil and gills; it is deadly poisonous. In A. brunnescens the cap is dark brown; in the deadly poisonous A. virosa the fruiting body is pure white and the cap is devoid of warts.
POISONOUS PARTS: All parts of the amanitas are poisonous.
SYMPTOMS: The characteristic, well-defined symptoms of A. muscaria poisoning may occur within 3 hours after ingestion. They include increased secretions from salivary, lacrimal, and other glands; perspiration; and possible severe gastroenteritis; much watery diarrhea plus retching and vomiting; possible labored breathing; pupils that are rarely responsive; and possible auditory or visual hallucinations or confusion occurring before or during the digestive upset. For A. muscaria, deaths are rare, but in such cases delirium is followed by convulsions, then coma with death from respiratory failure. In some severe cases, the patient may experience a profound sleep lasting a few hours, then awake without symptoms or memory of the illness that preceded.
Symptoms for the more deadly poisonous amanitas include a 10-hour lag period (6-15 hours) before onset of conditions. They begin as sudden, severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Blood, mucus, and undigested food are present in vomitus and stool. Thirst, anuria, prostration, and restlessness are also present. If quantities of mushrooms are consumed, death ensues in 2 days; more typically the disease lasts 6 to 8 days before death in adults, 4 to 6 days in children. Fever, hematuria, tachycardia, hypotension, rapid volume depletion, and fluid and electrolyte imbalance also may be present.
POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: A. muscaria. The toxins are choline, muscarine, and muscaridine. The LD50 i.v. in mice is 0.23mg/kg. A. phalloides and other deadly amanitas contain amanitine and phalloidine (complex polypeptides). The toxins amanitin and amanin, also present, are highly toxic; the LD50, i.p. in albino mice is 0.1 mg/kg; for phalloidine it is 3 3 mg/g i.m.
CONFUSED TAXA: Among the many species of Amanita, some are deadly poisonous, whereas others are nonpoisonous. Some of the deadly amanitas are rare (A. phalloides) or infrequent (A flavorubescens); some are very common (A. muscaria, A virosa).
SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Humans, all livestock, and wildlife are susceptible.
TREATMENT: A. muscaria: (11a - with 1:2,000 tannic acid or 1:10,000 potassium permanganate) or (11b); (5 – 0.1 to 0.5 mg either IM or IV, repeated as necessary). Atropine sulfate is antidotal.
A. phalloides: Mortality is 50-90%. First empty the stomach, then: (1-1 to 2 tablespoons in H2O): corticosteroids and both peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis to eliminate toxins and circumvent kidney failure. A high protein diet and intravenous doses of protein hydrolysate may prevent liver damage. Antiphalloidian serum is effective only when administered at the onset of symptoms; (26); thioctic acid, charcoal hemoperfusion, and vitamin C may be useful.
OF INTEREST: Mushroom poisoning can be produced by about 100 of the 2,000 species known. In the U.S., mushrooms of the genera Amanita and Galerina are the common causes of poisoning. Even trained mycologists may confuse toxic varieties with nonpoisonous or edible ones. There are no simple tests to identify poisonous mushrooms, no effective means to detoxify deadly kinds, and no simple rules or characteristics to follow in determining the toxicity of a mushroom.
Some inky cap mushrooms (Coprinus spp.) may produce toxic reactions if alcohol (beer, wine, etc.) is consumed with them. Some mushrooms (Psilocybe spp.) are hallucinogenic, contain psilocybin and psilocin, and are used in illegal drug trafficking.
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Amaranthus retroflexas L —Pigweed; redroot
FAMILY: Amaranthaceae—the Amaranth Family
The Amaranthaceae is a widely distributed family of herbs. Flowers: small, often unisexual, subtended by dry scales, frequently in showy cones; fruit: a utricle. Many species are weedy; some are grown as ornamentals.
PHENOLOGY: Pigweeds produce flowers in mid- to late summer.
DISTRIBUTION: Amaranthus retroflexus is a weed in Pennsylvania, as is the more common closely related smooth pigweed (A. hybridus L.). The weedy amaranths, native to tropical America, are distributed in Pennsylvania in gardens, cultivated fields, pastures, roadsides, waste places, and fields.
PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Amaranthus retroflexus is a tall annual plant, to 2 m; leaves: longpetioled, ovate or rhombic-ovate to 1 dm; inflorescence: a terminal panicle of densely crowded spikes, 5-20 cm long.
POISONOUS PARTS: The foliage is poisonous.
SYMPTOMS: Losses have occurred to livestock, especially sheep. Cattle and horses are relatively resistant. Postmortem: gross lesions: perirenal edema (pigs, growing calves) possibly containing blood, affected kidneys pale yet normal in size; rectal and abdominal wall edema; distended pleural and peritoneal cavities caused by straw-colored fluid; kidneys may have ecchymotic hemorrhages in the cortex. Histological lesions: interstitial edema in renal cortex, tubular nephrosis, necrosis and dilation of the convoluted and collecting tubules with protein casts. Hydrothorax and hydroperitoneum is more pronounced in calves. In ruminants methemoglobinemia may appear. Blood and body tissue appear chocolate brown. Nitrite and ammonia ions may cause the stomach mucosal surface to be congested.
POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: The nephrotoxic agent(s) is not known. Oxalates, which are found infrequently as crystals in histological studies, may account for some symptoms. Toxic concentrations of nitrates also are responsible for toxicity.
CONFUSED TAXA: Among Amaranthus spp. occuring in the Commonwealth, the two most common are A. retroflexus, described above, and the related A. hybridus. The floral bracts are rigid, tapering to a point, 4-8 mm long in the former, whereas they are stout-tipped, 2-4 mm long in the latter. All species of Amaranthus should be considered dangerous to livestock.
SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Sheep, hogs, and young calves are more susceptible than adult cattle and horses.
OF INTEREST: Lambsquarter (Chenopodiaceae) is a distantly related weed that contains at least one poisonous species, Chenopodium ambrosioides L (Mexican tea, wormseed). It is found in gardens, roadsides, and wasteplaces. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, impaired vision, and depression. Oil of chenopodium contains ascaridol, an anthelmintic used in treating internal parasitic worms.
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Amianthium muscaetoxicum (Walt.) Gray - Fly poison
FAMILY: Liliaceae—the Lily Family
Found worldwide, this major group of plants contains predominantly perennial herbs having various rootstocks: rhizomes, bulbs, corms, or tubers. The family characteristics are: flowers: mostly bisexual, radially symmetric; perianth: usually large and showy, divided into 2 series called tepals; sepals: (outer whorl) may not be readily distinguished in shape or color from the petals (inner whorl); stamens: routinely 6; pistil: 1; ovary: superior, generally with 3 chambers (trilocular); ovules: distributed down the central axis. Economically the lily family is very important for its members used in horticulture. The cultivated ornamental plants include autumn crocus (Colchicum), tulip, Star-of-Bethlehem, hyacinth, lily, scillas, grape hyacinth, lily-of-the valley, and other bulbs of "Dutch trade." For a discussion of poisonous, cultivated members of the Liliaceae see Colchicum, Convallaria, and Ornithogallum. Crops in this family include onions (and related alliums) and asparagus. Garden plants include day lilies (Hemerocallis) and bishop's coat (Hosta). Wild flowers in the family include several major poisonous plants (see Veratrum) as well as minor elements. Many of these constitute a substantial portion of our "spring flora" such as trillium, true and false Solomon's seals, and dog-tooth violet (trout-lily).
PHENOLOGY: Fly poison flowers June and July.
DISTRIBUTION: Amianthium muscaetoxicum inhabits open woods and moist areas, often on acid soils.
PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Tepals: 6, glandless, several-nerved, white to green, 1 cm wide; stamens: 6, filaments flattened; ovary: 3-lobed. deeply cleft and appearing like separate units, each lobe with a stout, conic style with minute stigma; capsule: containing 1 or 2 oblong, purple-brown seeds per cell; perennial plants growing from a thick bulb 5-8 cm in the ground; basal leaves: linear, 4 dm x 2 cm; stem: appearing late than basal leaves; stem rleaves: much reduced; racemes: at first conic, becoming cylindric; stalks to 10 dm or more.
POISONOUS PARTS: Bulbs and leaves are toxic.
SYMPTOMS: Symptoms include salivation, nausea, rapid or irregular breathing, staggering, weakness, lowered temperature, coma, and death due to respiratory failure.
POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: An unknown alkaloid(s) is the probable cause of toxicosis.
CONFUSED TAXA: Grasslike basal leaves and tall stalks with white flowers are not uncommon in the Liliaceae. Some of the confused taxa may be poisonous (e.g, Melanthium spp., which cause nervousness, anorexia, dyspnea, nausea, slobbering, sweating, weakness, stupor, weakened heart rate, and respiration), while others may not be. A botanical specialist should be consulted if Amianthium poisoning is suspected.
SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Experimental feedings have determined that sheep and cattle are susceptible (sheep death was produced from administration of leaves equal to 0.5% of the animal's weight). Losses may occur in early spring when little else is available for livestock forage.
TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (1)
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Anagallis arvensis L.—Scarlet pimpernel; pimpernel; poor man's weather-glass
FAMILY: Primulaceae—the Primrose Family
Members of this family have regular, perfect flowers with superior ovaries; flowers: 5-merous; petals: 5, fused; stamens: opposite and upon the petals; ovary: 1-celled; style: 1; fruit: a capsule; leaves: simple, without stipules.
PHENOLOGY: Pimpernel flowers from June throughout August.
DISTRIBUTION: Anagallis arvensis is a weed of diverse situations: roadsides, gardens, lawns, pastures, meadows, and waste places.
PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Pimpernel is an herbaceous annual plant; stems: 4-angled; leaves: small, opposite, sessile, 1-2 cm, underside with minute 'pits.' and "spots"; flowers: scarlet to brick-red, solitary in the axils; corolla: deeply 5-parted, giving the appearance of separate petals, lobes twisted in bud; staminal filaments: hairy; fruit: capsule, upper half dropping away for seed dispersal (circumscissile); flowers: open only in fair weather, quickly closing at the approach of summer storms or during cloudy weather.
POISONOUS PARTS: All parts are to be considered poisonous.
SYMPTOMS: Leaves can cause contact dermatitis. Although ingestion of the plants may cause poisonings, well-documented cases of poisonings are rare. Sheep feeding tests produced death in 2 days at concentrations of 2% of the animal's weight; later in the growing season toxicity could not be demonstrated. Symptoms of toxicity included depression, anorexia, and diarrhea; lesions included kidney, heart, and rumen hemorrhaging, congestion of lungs, and a pale, crumbling liver. Loss of 6 calves was once reported.
POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: The toxin(s) remains unknown.
CONFUSED TAXA: There are no herbaceous annual plants with opposite leaves, scarlet flowers, and circumscissile capsules except Anagallis arvensis.
SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: This plant is potentially poisonous to all species of animals.
OF INTEREST: Flowers are rarely white or sky-blue. Because flowers open and close in response to weather conditions, one of this plant's names is "poor man's weather-glass."
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Apocynum androsaemifolium L —Dogbane
Apocynum cannabinum L —Indian hemp
FAMILY: Apocynaceae—the Dogbane Family
This family has opposite or alternate simple leaves; flowers: regular and perfect; calyx: deeply divided; petals: joined; fruit: 2 slender, many-seeded follicles; sepals: 5-lobed; stamens: as many as corolla lobes and alternate with them; pistil: 1.
PHENOLOGY: Flowering in June through September.
DISTRIBUTION: Found in open areas and in coarse soil and/or along streams.
PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Flowers: erect; calyx: lobes usually taller than the middle of the corolla tube; corolla: petals are white to greenish white in A. cannabinum and pink in A. androsaemifolium; fruit: 10-15 cm long with 2-3 cm coma.
POISONOUS PARTS: Vegetative parts and the follicles.
SYMPTOMS: Little is known with respect to humans and livestock. One of the toxic glycosides, apocynamorin, when injected into a cat markedly raised the blood pressure. In another case, oral administration of some resinoid fractions to a dog produced gastric disturbance and death.
POISONOUS PRINCIPLE: Several cardioactive resins and glycosides.
CONFUSED TAXA: The two species of Apocynum can be readily distinguished. Apocynum androsaemifolium has pink corollas, 6-10 mm; A. cannabinum has white to greenish-white corollas, 3-6 mm.
SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Because the plant is distasteful to animals, incidences of poisoning are rare.
TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (26).
OF INTEREST: Nerium oleander(oleander), a poisonous evergreen shrub in this family is grown in more tropical climes and can be found in greenhouses in Pennsylvania. It contains the cardiac glycosides oleandroside, oleandrin, and nerioside. Symptoms include local irritation to the mouth and alimentary canal, vomiting, cramps, bloody diarrhea, dizziness, slowed pulse, irregular heartbeat, drowsiness, unconsciousness, respiratory collapse, and death.
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