Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 7, 2009
Publication Date: February 28, 2009
Repository URL: http://www.pprl.ars.usda.gov
Citation: Davis, T.Z., Lee, S.T., Ralphs, M.H., Panter, K.E. 2009. Selected Common Poisonous Plants of the United States' Rangelands. Rangelands. 31(1):38-44 DOI:10.2111/1551-501X-31.1.38 Interpretive Summary: Poisonous plants growing on US rangelands cause significant economic losses to livestock producers. It is important that livestock owners and producers are familiar with potentially toxic plants growing in their area and use available knowledge about the ecology, physiology and chemistry of these plants to avoid livestock losses. White snakeroot, rayless goldenrod, death camas, halogeton, poison hemlock, water hemlock, and broom snakeweed are important plants to understand if found in one’s geographical location. Few treatments are available for livestock poisoned by these toxic plants. Therefore preventing livestock access to these toxic plants during conditions when poisoning may occur is critical. For example, many poisonous plants are palatable, or their toxin concentrations are high enough to poison livestock, only during specific time periods. Similarly, livestock may be susceptible to the toxins in poisonous plants only during specific times, such as critical periods of pregnancy; otherwise, these plants can be safely consumed. Additionally, many poisonous plants are grazed only when more preferred forages are depleted, emphasizing the need for land owners and managers to responsibly manage their ranges and pastures. In conclusion, if producers are well acquainted with the ecology and physiology of the plants growing on their ranges, management strategies can be developed to reduce livestock exposure and avoid poisoning.
Technical Abstract: Poisonous plants cause large economic losses throughout the rangelands of the world. In the 17 western states of the United States alone, it has been estimated that losses related to the ingestion of poisonous plants exceed $340 million annually. There are many plants that contribute to these large economic losses. In this review we discuss the geographical distribution, chemistry, toxic doses, clinical signs, and management recommendations of white snakeroot, rayless goldenrod, death camas, halogeton, poison hemlock, water hemlock, and broom snakeweed. We also emphasize the need for land owners and managers to become well acquainted with the ecology and physiology of the plants growing on their ranges so that management strategies can be developed to maintain healthier rangelands, to reduce livestock exposure to poisonous plants, and to avoid episodes of poisoning.