Robust annual becoming quite woody at base, 1 to 4 m tall. Leaves alternate, deciduous, compound, 10 to 20 cm long, evenly pinnate with 24 to 52 leaflets. Flowers yellow or sometimes pinkish or purplish in clusters of two or more on long slender stalks. Pod flattened, swollen, ends pointed, 5 to 8 cm long, two seeds per pod. Found in coastal plain North Carolina to Florida to Texas; most abundant in moist, fertile soil in waste places, along ditches and in pastures.
Saponins have been detected in this plant. Cattle, sheep, goats, chickens and hogs have all been poisoned from consuming the seeds and green plant. The green seeds are the most toxic part.
It is thought that the plant is distasteful to animals but some appear to develop a craving for the seeds even when other forage is available. Poisoning most often occurs in the fall or early winter when pasture or other feed is in short supply. Also, new additions to pastures containing the plants are often affected.
Sheep and cattle exhibit hemorrhagic diarrhea, shallow and rapid respiration, fast irregular pulse and become comatose before death. Constipation has been observed in affected cattle.
Post mortem examination reveals hemorrhages in the abomasum and intestines, rumen stasis and dark tarry blood. Usually the seeds can be observed in the rumen.
Remove all animals immediately from pastures containing the plant and confine them to clean pastures or a dry lot. General supportive treatment, including saline laxatives, rumen stimulants and intravenous fluid therapy is suggested.
Shrub or small tree to 4 m tall. Leaves alternate, deciduous, 10 to 20 cm long, evenly pinnately compound with 12 to 40 leaflets. Flowers conspicuous, orange to red, shaped like a sweetpea, 2 to 2.5 cm long; in drooping, axillary clusters. Pods four-winged, 6 to 8 cm long, indehiscent, tough and somewhat leathery. Found in lower coastal plain Florida to Louisiana. Most abundant in moist fertile soils, marshes, along ditches, fence rows, pastures and waste places; planted as an ornamental and widely escaping.
The seeds contain a saponin which is quite toxic to poultry, cattle, sheep, goats and humans. It has been shown that as few as nine seeds per bird can be fatal. Sheep can be killed by consuming as little as 50 grams/ 100 pounds of body weight.
Animals appear severely depressed, have a rapid pulse and diarrhea. Poisoning usually occurs in the fall when other forage is scarce.
Saline purgatives should be given.