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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: A Case of Acute Water Hemlock (Cicuta Maculata) Poisoning and Death in Cattle after Ingestion of Green Seed Heads

item Panter, Kip
item Gardner, Dale
item Holstege, Dirk - CAL. VET. DIAGNOSTIC LAB
item Stegelmeier, Bryan

Submitted to: Poisonous Plant Global Research and Solutions
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 31, 2006
Publication Date: June 20, 2007
Citation: Panter, K.E., Gardner, D.R., Holstege, D., Stegelmeier, B.L. 2007. A case of acute water hemlock (cicuta maculata) poisoning and death in cattle after ingestion of green seed heads. Poisonous Plants Global Research and Solutions, Chpt. 44, pp. 259-264.

Interpretive Summary: Water hemlock is a highly toxic poisonous plant of the carrot family that causes significant economic losses to the livestock industry each year. Occasional reports of poisoning and death in people also occurs. In this case study, nine cattle died after ingesting the immature seed heads from water hemlock. Field investigation and follow up chemical analysis and bioassay confirmation determined that green seed of water hemlock contains similar toxic compounds and is as toxic as the highly poisonous water hemlock tubers.

Technical Abstract: A case of acute water hemlock (Cicuta maculata) poisoning in cattle was reported. Nine cattle died acutely after grazing immature water hemlock seed. Chemical analysis and bioassay confirmation determined that the immature seeds contained the highly toxic long chain diols including cicutoxin, cicutol-1 and cicutol-2. The immature water hemlock seeds were equal in toxicity to that of tubers previously shown to be highly toxic. The chemical profile of the seed indicated a much lower quantity of cicutoxin compared to tubers but there were much higher levels of cicutol-like derivatives. This suggests that further characterization of these toxins should be investigated.

Last Modified: 4/21/2015
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