P. O. Box 6
Ochlocknee, GA  31773
Phone:  229-378-5088

 

 


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Poison!

During late summer and early fall, showy crotalaria blooms can be seen throughout the Southeast.  As beautiful as these tall blooms are, they are TOXIC PLANTS that can be DEADLY TO YOUR HORSE.  We have been told that ONE MOUTHFUL of this plant can kill a horse.

 There is no treatment for crotalaria poisoning. 

Whether the crotalaria is green or has been dried in hay, ALL PARTS OF THE PLANT ARE POISONOUS.  Poisoning comes from an animal consuming crotalaria, or any hay contaminated with crotalaria, or from grain that is contaminated with dried crotalaria seed. 

A horse that eats crotalaria will suffer liver damage or liver failure, will walk around aimlessly, will exhibit weakness, will press its head against objects; the mucous membranes often show jaundice, which is another sign of severe liver damage.  Symptoms are similar to the symptoms of West Nile virus.    

Crotalaria is mainly grown as an ornamental flower.  Originally, these plants were imported to the United States to be used as soil builders, or “green manure,” with the idea that the plants would be tilled under while green to support nitrogen fixing bacteria.  However, crotalaria is considered an invasive plant (a weed) and has spread throughout the Southeastern United States.  During early fall, crotalaria plants can be seen usually in patches (and not just a single plant growing here or there) in fields, in woods with sunlight, and alongside roads.  

(These plants are also known as “rattlepods” or “rattleboxes” because as their seed pods mature, the seeds become loose and rattle in the pods.  “Crotalaria” comes from the same Greek root word as the word for “rattlesnake.” The seeds are especially toxic!) 

 

Chickens, horses, cattle, and swine are the mammals mainly affected; mules, dogs, goats, and sheep can be affected to a lesser degree.

If you see crotalaria blooming at this time of year, the best thing to do is dig it up and burn it.  During spring and summer, the plant blends in with other weeds or green plants.  It is only when it blooms, matures, and seed pods develop that you can successfully spot and eradicate crotalaria.