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GENUS: Arctium

Arctium spp.—Burdock

FAMILY: Compositae (Asteraceae)—the Daisy Family

The largest family of vascular plants, the Compositae are distributed worldwide and are economically very important. Food members of the family include lettuce (Lactuca), endive, escarole, and chicory (Cichorium); artichoke (Cynara), salsify (Tragopogon), and sunfowers (Helianthus). Numerous species are used as ornamentals; especially notable are Aster, Chrysanthemum, daisies, cosmos, dahlia, strawflowers, cineraria, marigolds, zinnia, globe thistle, and edelweiss. Composite weeds often have detrimental impact. A nonexhaustive list would include ragweed, various thistles, horse weed (Conyza), galinsoga, fleabane, goldenrod, beggarticks, sowthistle, dandelion, and a host of less numerous taxa. A small proportion of the Compositae are poisonous and are detailed as separate entries (see Arctium spp., Eupatorium rugosum, Helenium autumnale, Tanacetum vulgare, and Xanthium spp.). Senecio is mentioned at the end of this entry.

Flowers of the Compositae are aggregated in close heads, on a receptacle, and surrounded by involucral bracts that are usually green. The ovary is inferior. The calyx is modified into a pappus, which crowns the summit of the ovary in the form of bristles, awns, scales, or teeth, or is absent. The corolla is either ligulate (flat and strap-shaped ray-flowers), or tubular (disk-flowers, often opening to form a 5-pointed star). The heads can be composed of all ray-flowers (heads ligulate) or all disk-flowers (heads discoid), or with ray-flowers along the margin and disk-flowers in the center (heads radiate). The stamens generally number 5, are fused upon the corolla, and bear anthers that are united into a tube. The style is 2- cleft; the ovary matures into a fruit, the achene, which contains a single, erect seed.

PHENOLOGY: Arctium species flower July through October.

DISTRIBUTION: The four Arctium species found in the Commonwealth occur in waste places, disturbed habitats, and roadsides.

PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: In the genus Arctium the heads are entirely discoid; involucres: globular; involucral bracts: attenuate to long, stiff, hooked tips; pappus: numerous, rough, separate, deciduous bristles; leaves: large and coarse.

POISONOUS PARTS: The green, above-ground portions may cause contact dermatitis.

SYMPTOMS: Contact may cause itching, burning, or reddening of the skin.

POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: The agents that cause rash upon contact are unknown but probably are lactones (perhaps sesquiterpenes).

CONFUSED TAXA: Our four species of Arctium are: great burdock (A. Lappa L.). which has strongly angled leaf petioles with solid centers; hairy burdock (A. tomentosum Mill.), which has hollow leaf petioles and small flower heads (2.0-2.5 cm broad); the woodland burdock (A. nemorosum Lej & Court.) has hollow leaf petioles and larger flower heads (2 5-3.5 cm broad); and the common burdock (A minus (Hill) Bernh.), which has the smallest flower heads (1.2-2.5 cm broad). Several varieties of the common burdock, have been described by researchers based on leaf shape and corolla color. The burdocks are sometimes confused with the cockleburs (see Xanthium) and rhubarb (see Rheum).

SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Possibly only humans are susceptible to skin reactions from contact with the lactones in burdock.

TREATMENT: (23); (26)

OF INTEREST: Burdocks have been used in folk remedies for various ailments. Arctium may have hypoglycemic activity and therefore have potential as a medicine for diabetes. The Meskwaki Indians used A. Lappa root as an aid in childbirth, and 17th Century Europeans used it as a putative remedy for venereal disease.

Several species of Senecio (groundsel, ragwort), also in the family Compositae, produce pyrrolizidine alkaloids similar to those produced by Crotalaria (rattlebox), in the bean family. Of the Senecio species suspected or known to be toxic, only S. vulgaris L. occurs in Pennsylvania and its toxicity has not been proven in North America. The toxic groundsels are a problem mainly on western rangelands. Senecio toxicosis is similar to that described for Crotalaria.

 


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GENUS: Arisaema

Atrisaema spp.—Jack in the pulpit; Indian Turnip

FAMILY: Araceae—the Arum Family

The Araceae are primarily tropical in distribution. Seven genera, all but one containing a single species, are encountered in the flora of Pennsylvania. Members of the family are best known as house plants in our region (e.g. Monstera, Philodendron, Anthurium, Dieffenbachia, Pothos, Scindapsus, Calla, Caladium, and Aglaonema). The family is characterized by plants with milky, watery or sharply pungent sap and calcium oxalate crystals in the tissue. The flowers are often unisexual. In some species, both male and female flowers occur in the same inforescence. In other species, the plants bear either all male (staminate) or all female (pistillate) flowers. Regardless, the flowers are generally small and aggregated in a cluster on a thick, fleshy spike called a spadix. The spike is often surrounded or subtended by a bract or leaflike structure, the spathe, which may be colored and flowerlike.

PHENOLOGY: The species of Arisaema flower from late April to late June.

DISTRIBUTION: The plants are most commonly encountered in rich woods, thickets, moist areas, swamps, bogs, and swales.

PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: In Arisaema the flowers occur at the base of the spadix; the spathe is green or purple-brown, often with light-green lines. Flowers: small, in clusters, without a perianth; staminate flowers: composed of 2-5 subsessile anthers, opening at the apex; pistillate flowers: consisting of a l-celled ovary and a broad stigmatic surface; fruit: a cluster of globose berries, red when mature, each containing 1-3 seeds; leaves: long-petioled, compound; corms: very acrid,.

POISONOUS PARTS: Berries presumably are not poisonous but taste peppery. Leaves and roots (acrid sap) can cause contact dermatitis. Roots (corm) when eaten in quantity can cause severe burning in the throat and mouth. Inflammation can cause choking.

SYMPTOMS: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and inflammation of the mucous membrane upon ingestion.

POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: The toxicosis is produced by mechanical piercing of the mucous membranes by calcium oxalate crytals, possibly a protein or asparagine, and other unknown toxins.

CONFUSED TAXA: There is some disagreement among botanists concerning the division of the genus Arisaema into species. Current research supports two species: A. triphyllum (L.) Schott. (with 3 varieties) and A. Dracontium (L.) Schott. The two are differentiated by the number of leaflets per leaf and the nature of the spadix. In A. triphyllum there are 3 leaflets and a blunt spadix covered by the spathe, whereas A. Dracontium leaves are composed of 7 to 13 leaflets and the spadix is long, protruding from the spathe,

SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Mortality in humans and livestock has not been reported in the literature; however, death has been induced experimentally in animal feeding studies.

TREATMENT: Dermatitis - (4); (23); ingestion - (11a)(b); (4); (6); (9); (10); (26),

OF INTEREST: Skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus (L ) Nutt, also a member of the Araceae, contains calcium oxalate crystals. An overdose of the underground parts causes nausea, vomiting, vertigo, disturbed vision, and headaches. Both Arisaema and Symplocarpus have been utilized medicinally. The Pawnee Indians pulverized the dried corms and dusted the powder on the head and temples to relieve aches. Symplocarpus "roots'' have been dried and powdered to give the aged relief from asthma and catarrh. Some cultivated, poisonous plants of this family are discussed under the entries Dieffenbachia and Philodendron.

 


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GENUS: Asclepias

Asclepias spp.—Milkweed

FAMILY: Asclepiadaceae—the Milkweed Family

The Asclepiadaceae is a family of succulent plants with milky sap. The milkweeds, which are known to most residents of the state, have a highly specialized flower, only briefy described here. The staminal filaments are basally fused into a tube, united to the corolla tube, and bear a whorl of appendages, collectively called the corona. The pollen of each anther is aggregated into a waxy mass, the pollinium. The ovary is superior, composed of 2 carpels, free at the base but fused at the apex into a common stigma; fruit: a pair of follicles, or 1 by abortion; seeds: flat, winged, with a tuft of hairs; leaves: opposite or whorled, simple, entire, without stipules; inflorescence: cymose, often appearing umbelliform; flowers: bisexual, 5-merous.

PHENOLOGY: The milkweeds generally flower June through August. A few species flower slightly earlier or extend slightly later into the season.

DISTRIBUTION: Some milkweeds are plants of wet places, swamps and bogs, others live in dry, rocky soil, while still others are weeds of cultivated fields, roadsides, pastures, and waste places.

PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Those characteristics provided in the family description will identify the milkweeds. Generally the genus may be divided into those plants with narrow, lanceolate leaves and those with broad leaves and nearly parallel margins.

POISONOUS PARTS: The entire plant is considered poisonous.

SYMPTOMS: Toxicosis includes depression, weakness, staggering, tetanic seizures, elevated temperature, respiratory difficulties, dilated pupils, coma, and death. Postmortem: gross lesions: congestion of lungs, liver, and kidneys; acute catarrhal gastroenteritis; terminal dilitation of the heart ventricles; signs of central nervous system involvement, and atonic crop and gizzard in fowl; histological lesions: some cellular degeneration, especially of the kidney, may be apparent.

POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: The agents responsible for toxicity are not fully characterized, but toxic resinoids, cardioactive glycosides, and other components are suspected. The milky latex, upon contact, may elicit an allergic reaction in some sensitive individuals.

CONFUSED TAXA: Most people readily recognize milkweeds; the plants superficially resemble dogbane (see Apocynum).

SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Turkey, chickens, sheep, goats, cattle, and horses are susceptible to milkweed toxins. Humans are also poisoned by the plants.

TREATMENT: ( 11a)(b); (26)

OF INTEREST: Historically, several species of milkweed have been used for medicine, including Asclepias tuberosa L. and A. syriaca L. They contain asclepiadin, asclepion (a bitter principle), tannin, and volatile oil.

 


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GENUS: Brassica

Brassica spp.—Mustards

FAMILY: Cruciferae (Brassicaceae)—the Mustard Family

This is a large assemblage of pungent or acrid herbs of diverse growth habit. Flowers: regular and perfect, in terminal racemes or corymbs; sepals: 4, deciduous; petals: 4, limbs spreading to form a cross; stamens: 6, with 2 shorter and inserted lower than the other 4; pistil: 2 carpels; ovary: superior; fruit: a 2-celled capsule (a silique when elongated, a silicle when short and broad) usually opening by 2 valves from below; seeds: with a curved embryo important in taxonomic diagnosis; leaves: alternate, herbaceous without stipules.

This family includes many ornamental and important vegetable crops. A nonexhaustive list contains: Brassica (broccoli, Brussels sprouts. cabbage, Chinese cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnip), Lepidium (cress), Nasturtium (watercress), Raphanus (radish), Armoracia (horseradish), Wasabia japonica (Japanese horseradish), and Crambe (oil-seed).

PHENOLOGY: The genus Brassica contains several species that generally flower from May through October, depending on the taxon.

DISTRIBUTION: Some species of Brassica are cultivated plants; others are troublesome weeds of fields, waste places, gardens, and roadsides.

PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Taxonomically the genus has been organized in several different fashions. Most members encountered in the Commonwealth bear saccate sepals, yellow petals, and have 4 rounded staminal glands at the base of the ovary. The fruit is terminated by a conspicuous beak, sometimes containing a basal seed.

POISONOUS PARTS: Seeds and plants with seed capsules are poisonous.

SYMPTOMS: The effects of Brassica poisoning vary depending upon the species of plant consumed Brassica Kaber(DC) L. (charlock; wild mustard) is known to cause gastroenteritis, pain, salivation, diarrhea, and upper digestive tract disturbances, including irritation of the mouth. These symptoms also are associated with B. hirta Moench. (white mustard) ingestion. Some cultivated mustards such as Brassica oleracea var acephala DC (common kale), B. o. var capitata L. (cabbage), and B. o. var. gemmifera Zenker, (Brussels sprouts), cause hemolytic anemia and hemoglobinuria in some livestock. Goitrogenic substances (LS-vinyl-2-thioaxazolidone) are known in kale, cabbage, and turnip (Brassica rapa L.).

Postmortem: gross lesions: (rape and kale) pulmonary emphysema; congestion and edema of lungs, alimentary tract inactivity causing gallbladder distension with viscid bile; histological lesions: rupture of pulmonary alveoli, emphysema and edema involving interlobular septa tracheal and bronchial hemorrhages, mild toxic hepatitis, and centrilobular necrosis.

POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: The substance responsible for toxicosis is sinigrin, which in the presence of the enzyme myrosinase, is converted to glucose, allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil), and potassium hydrogen sulfate. Mustard oils are poisonous. The toxicity, by ingestion, of allyl isothiocyanate has been determined (in cattle) to be 0.001% of the body weight. Also, mustards occasionally contain toxic concentrations of nitrate that may complicate toxicosis.

CONFUSED TAXA: There are 40 genera of mustards; many are yellow flowered. Botanical keys for the identification of mustards are complex and require mature fruits. One species frequently mistaken for a Brassica is Barbarea vulgaris R. Br (Yellow rocket, winter cress), which also has been reported to produce mustard-oil type poisoning. One feature used to separate Brassica from Barbarea is the beak of the fruit: 8- 15 mm long in Brassica, 1-3 mm long in Barbarea.

SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Reported poisonings include, cattle and sheep, Brassica hirta (white mustard); cattle and swine, B Kaber (charlock); and ruminants, large quantities of Brassica oleracea var. botrytis (broccoli). Goiter formation is known for lambs (ewes) fed on Brassica oleracea var. acephala (kale) and rabbits fed Brassica oleracea var, capitata (cabbage).

TREATMENT: (26)

OF INTEREST: Numerous members of the mustard family have been reported to cause poisoning Winter cress (Barbarea vulgaris) flowers April through June and is an abundant weed in Pennsylvania. One case was reported of a horse ingesting a relatively large amount of B. Vu/garis and developing gastroenteritis. Rape (Brassica campestris L ), although a late fall pasturage crop, has been suspected of causing toxicosis. Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana P. Goertn.) has caused bloody vomiting and diarrhea in humans when consumed in large quantities. Loss of cattle, horses, and swine are known from the ingestion of vegetation and roots. Small children, who eat large quantities of raw mustard vegetables (cabbage, mustard, kale, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, rutabaga, turnip, radish, cress, horseradish and stock) can develop diarrhea and vomiting. Field penny-cress (Thlaspi arvense L.), a common weed of fields, roadsides, and waste places, is responsible for gastric distress in livestock. It has been suggested that toxicity in members of the mustard family increases after flowering. Additional plants suspected of being poisonous are Erysimum (wallflower), Sisymbrium (Tumbling mustard), Descurainia (Herb-Sophia), Camelina (False flax) and Bepidium (Peppergrass).

 


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GENUS: Buxus

Buxus sempervirens L. –Common boxwood, box

FAMILY: Buxaceae—the Box Family

This family contains two genera of plants used for ornamental purposes, Buxus and Pachysandra. The former is an evergreen shrub widely used in horticulture, while the latter is an evergreen ground cover, equally common in use. Characteristics for the family are: flowers: unisexual, regular, inconspicuous; sepals: 4, basally fused; stamens: 4, opposite the calyx lobes; pistil: 1; ovary: superior.

PHENOLOGY: Boxwood flowers in spring.

DISTRIBUTION: Cultivated as a hedge, foundation, specimen, or edging (dwarf) plant.

PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Leaves: elliptic to lanceolate-oblong, broadest below the middle, dark green and lustrous above; flowers: in axillary clusters, with a terminal female flower and several male flowers below in the axils of bracteoles; petals: absent; female flowers: with a 3celled ovary; fruit: a capsule with 3, two-horned valves.

POISONOUS PARTS: The leaves and stems are poisonous. Toxicity to horses is estimated to be 0.15% (green-weight basis) of body weight, which for an average animal is equivalent to 1.5 lbs. of leaves.

SYMPTOMS: Severe gastroenteritis, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, stomach pains, convulsion, and death through respiratory failure may result from ingestion of boxwood.

POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: The akaloid buxene (buxine) has been implicated in poisonings. Other active principles are probably involved, including a volatile oil.

CONFUSED TAXA: No other cultivated plants have simple, opposite, oval, leathery leaves. Some varieties of holly (Ilex) or cotoneaster (Cotoneaster) may be confused with box, but these have alternate, not opposite, leaves.

SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Horses, sheep, pigs, and cattle have been poisoned.

TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (26)

 


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GENUS: Caltha

Caltha palustris L.—Marsh marigold: cowslip

FAMILY: Ranunculaceae—the Buttercup Family (see Actaea)

PHENOLOGY: Marsh marigold usually flowers in April and May.

DISTRIBUTION: Marsh marigold, as the name implies, is often encountered in wet meadows, swamps, bogs, and shallow water. It can also occupy wet, shaded woodlands. Marsh marigolds will migrate onto low-lying areas of a lawn from an adjacent drainage ditch.

PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Marsh marigolds have hollow stems, 2-6 dm tall, branched above; basal leaves: long-petioled, apically becoming progressively less petioled; sepals: 5-9, bright yellow and resembling petals. Each flower produces 4-12 follicles, 10-15 mm long.

POISONOUS PARTS: All parts of the mature plant are poisonous. Young plants are reported to be less toxic or not poisonous at all.

SYMPTOMS: Toxic principles can cause restlessness, depression, nervous excitation, stomach upset, salivation, weakness, and death.

POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: Toxins include the anemonin precursor proto-anemonin. The LD50 i.p. in mice for anemonin is 150 mg/kg.

CONFUSED TAXA: Caltha resembles several of the poisonous buttercups in the genus Ranunculus. Buttercup flowers contain nectariferous spots or scales at the base of each petal, and the fruit is a single-seeded achene. Caltha is devoid of nectifers, and the fruit is a several-seeded follicle. There are several varieties of Caltha palustris differentiated by stem and leaf characteristics; all are considered poisonous.

SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Humans, cattle, and horses have been reported poisoned by ingestion of marsh marigold. Like buttercups, marsh marigold is acrid and not palatable. Because the poisonous agent is volatile, Marsh marigold in dried hay is reported harmless.

TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (26); (5)-2mg subcutaneously; (27); (6)

OF INTEREST: Many members of the family Ranunculaceae contain similar toxins (see Ranunculus and Delphinium).

 


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GENUS: Campsis

Campsis radicans (L ) Seem.— Trumpet-creeper

FAMILY: Bignoniaceae—the Trumpet-creeper Family

The Bignoniaceae are a moderately large group of plants comprised of trees, shrubs, and woody vines. Leaves: ordinarily opposite; flowers: bisexual, irregular. 2-lipped, and often showy; stamens: borne on the petals, typically 4. in 2 pairs; ovary: superior, 2-celled; Fruit: a 2-valved capsule; seeds: conspicuously winged.

PHENOLOGY: This plant blossoms during July and August.

DISTRIBUTION: Trumpet-creeper vines are showy plants that thrive in fertile soil in bright locations. They are occasionally cultivated and frequently escape into moist woods, along fencerows, and roadsides.

PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: A deciduous shrub or vine climbing by aerial roots; leaves: opposite, odd-pinnate; leaflets: toothed, 7-11; flowers: tubular, large, orange or scarlet, 6-8 cm long, produced in terminal, crowded inflorescences; calyx: unequally 5-toothed; corolla: 5-lobed, slightly 2-lipped.

POISONOUS PARTS: The leaves and flowers can cause contact dermatitis.

SYMPTOMS: Symptoms include skin inflammation, persistent blisters, and skin discomfort.

POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: Unknown.

CONFUSED TAXA: No other woody vine in the Commonwealth possesses the plant characteristics described above.

SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: People are reported to react on contact with trumpet-creeper. It is doubtful that animals are affected.

TREATMENT: (23); (4); (26)

 


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GENUS: Caulophyllum

Caulophyllum thalictroides (L ) Michx.—Blue cohosh

FAMILY: Berberidaceae—the Barberry Family

Composed of about 12 genera and 200 species in the north temperate zone, this family is distinguished by two series of stamens, the outer whorl occurring opposite the petals. The calyx and corolla also may be in two whorls. The anthers shed pollen by valves, flowers possess a single pistil, and in most genera the stamen number is equal to the number of petals. The exception is Podophyllum, in which the stamen number is twice that of the petals. Economically the family contributes 13 genera of ornamental plants. Ripe fruits of Podophyllum (May apple) are edible (preserves and beverages) but leaves and roots are poisonous; Berberis (barberry) fruits are edible; Caulophyllum (blue cohosh) seeds are poisonous when raw but considered safe when roasted and used as a substitute for coffee beans. Flowers in the family have perfect symmetry, and free parts; sepals: 4 or 6; petals: as many as or more than the sepals, sometimes reduced to nectaries; ovary: 1,1-celled, superior; ovules: 1-many.

PHENOLOGY: The single species flowers April and May.

DISTRIBUTION: Blue cohosh is common in the rich, moist deciduous woods of northeastern U. S.

PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Caulophyllum is an erect, graceful perennial, from a small knotty rootstock, growing to 1 m high; glaucous when young; flowers: yellowish green or greenish purple with six petaloid sepals, subtended by 3-4 sepal-like bracts; the six petals are reduced to small glandlike bodies; stamens: 6; seeds: dark blue, on stalks as long as the seeds. The erect stem bears a single large, sessile, triternate leaf resembling 3 biternate leaves.

POISONOUS PARTS: The leaves and raw seeds contain toxins.

SYMPTOMS: Severe gastroenteritis and stomach pains result from consumption of the poisonous parts.

POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: The poisonous parts contain the alkaloid methylcytisine and various glycosides.

CONFUSED TAXA: The flower and seed characteristics described above make it unlikely that blue cohosh will be readily confused with other plants.

SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Although the plant is quite bitter, poisoning in children has been reported due to ingestion.

TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (26)

OF INTEREST: The North American Indians used a root extract of this plant as an abortifacient and to promote menstruation.

 


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GENERA: Celastrus, Euonymus

Celastrus spp.—Bittersweet

Euanymus spp.—Wahoo; burning bush

FAMILY: Celastraceae—the Staff-tree Family

Represented in Pennsylvania by several native and introduced ornamental species, this family consists of trees, shrubs, or climbing vines. The sepals, petals, and stamens usually number 4 or 5. A nectar disc is present around the ovary. The fruit is often a capsule with the seeds wholly or partly surrounded by a fleshy, brightly colored membrane called the aril.

PHENOLOGY: Both Celastrus and Euonymus bloom May through June.

DISTRIBUTION: Celastrus scandens L. is a native plant of roadsides and woodlots, usually in rich soil. Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb., an introduced plant from eastern Asia, has escaped from sites where it is cultivated, especially in the southeastern corner of the Commonwealth and along the Susquehanna River drainage.

Euonymus atropurpureus Jacq. is native and found in moist woods; E. europaeus L. is a European native escaped from cultivation Euonymus species are often cultivated as ornamental shrubs for their brilliant autumn foliage.

PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Celastrus is dioecious, some plants producing only male flowers and others only female flowers. The whitish or greenish flowers are 5-merous; fruits: 3- valved, orange when mature, splitting to expose a fleshy red aril. The vines climb over vegetation and can be a tangling nuisance.

Euonymus plants are shrubs or small trees with flowers: perfect, 4- to 5-merous; fruit: 3- to 5-lobed, bright red or orange aril.

POISONOUS PARTS: Leaves, bark, and fruit are known to be poisonous in E. atropurpureus and E. europaeus and suspected to be poisonous in both Celastrus species.

SYMPTOMS: No cases of Celastrus poisoning could be located. Symptoms in Euonymus poisoning include: diarrhea, vomiting, unconsciousness, and mental disorders.

POISONOUS PRINCIPLES: Peptide and sesquiterpene alkaloids may be responsible for Euonymus toxicosis. The toxins act as violent purgatives.

CONFUSED TAXA: The seeds covered by brightly covered arils make these two genera distinct from other woody plants in the Commonwealth. Euonymus is a shrub or small tree with simple, opposite leaves, whereas Celastrus is a woody vine with simple, alternate leaves. The two Celastrus species can be distinguished by terminal panicles and leaves twice as wide as long in C. scandens and axillary cymes and broad leaves in C. orbiculatus.

SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Horses are recorded to have been poisoned by leaves and children have been poisoned by the fruits of Euonymus. Bittersweet is often brought into the home in autumn for its decorative fruits. Children should be alerted to the potential danger of this plant.

TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (26)

OF INTEREST: Celastrus scandens has been used in eastern North America as a folk medicine to treat vaginal discharge (leukorrhea). In other parts of the world species in this genus have been used variously as abortifacients, stimulants, emetics, and cathartics, and the leaves chewed to relieve toothache.

 


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GENUS: Chelidonium

Chelidonium majus L.—Celandine

FAMILY: Papaveraceae—the Poppy Family

FLOWERS: perfect, showy, bisexual and regular; petals: 4-8 or 8-12, separate, conspicuous, and deciduous; sepals: 2-3, falling early; stamens: very numerous; ovary: superior, 1-celled; fruit: a capsule, usually opening by valves or pores; leaves: exstipulate, alternate on the stems. When the integrity of the stem or leaves is disturbed, the wound produces a white, or colored milky sap.

PHENOLOGY: Celandine flowers in April through September.

DISTRIBUTION: Found in moist soil, gardens, rich woods, and roadsides where vegetation is dense.

PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Chelidonium majus is a biennial or short lived perennial weed naturalized from Europe. Sepals: 2, falling early; petals: 4, yellow; stamens: numerous, with long, slender filaments and short, round anthers; ovary: glabrous, with a very short style with 2-lobed stigma; flowers: small, several in a peduncled umbel; leaves: deeply lobed almost or quite to the midvein.

POISONOUS PARTS: The plant's sap, found in stems, roots, and leaves, is poisonous.

SYMPTOMS: If ingested, celandine produces severe gastroenteritis. Also, there is possibly some risk of skin irritation on contact.

POISONOUS PRNCIPLE: The toxins are alkaloid compounds, i.e., chelidonine, chelerythrine, protopine, sanguinarine, berberine, tetrahydrocoptisine, and others.

CONFUSED TAXA: This is the only naturalized weed having flowers with 4 brilliant yellow-orange petals and milky sap when bruised.

SPECIES OF ANIMALS AFFECTED: Apparently all species of livestock and humans develop gastroenteritis upon ingestion of celandine.

TREATMENT: (11a)(b); (26)

 


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