Poisonous Plants of the Southern United States

blacknightshade.jpg (38598 bytes)black nightshade
Solanum nigrum

Annual, thornless, essentially glabrous herb, .1 to 1 m tall. Leaves alternate, sinuately or coarsely toothed, 5 to 10 cm long, 2 to 5 cm wide. Flowers white, 6 to 8 mm broad. Fruit shiny, black when ripe, several seeded, 5 to 9 mm in diameter. Found throughout the south, seldom abundant; fields, waste places, cultivated ground.

TOXICITY

A toxic alkaloid, solanine, has been isolated from this group of plants. Toxicity of these plants varies depending upon maturity, environment and portion of plant ingested. The berries are the most toxic part and are more toxic when they have matured. The berries of both Carolina horsenettle and black nightshade are green when immature. However, horsenettle berries turn yellow when mature and nightshade berries become black. Leaves are also toxic, but to a lesser degree.

SYMPTOMS

All classes of livestock and humans have been poisoned. Two syndromes have been described: acute and chronic. The acutely poisoned animal is characterized by irritation of the mouth and gastrointestinal lesions. In the chronic form, unthriftiness, jaundiced mucous membranes, abdominal dropsy and constipation have all been seen.

TREATMENT

Non-specific.

 

redbuckeye.jpg (53447 bytes)red buckeye
Aesculus pavia

Shrub or sometimes a small tree, to 4 m tall. Leaves opposite, palmately compound; leaflets 6 to 17 cm long, 3 to 6 cm wide. Flowers showy, scarlet, 2.5 to 4 cm long; borne in large, terminal panicles. Fruit leathery, 3.5 to 6 cm broad, splitting on maturity; containing 1 to 3, shiny-tan or light-brown seeds, to 4 cm in diameter. Found throughout the south but more abundant in coastal plain; most abundant in moist, fertile soils of deciduous forests.

TOXICITY

A glycoside, aesculin, has been detected in the buckeye sprout, young leaves, and the mature seed. All classes of livestock and humans can be affected by ingestion of the buckeye. Cattle are most frequently affected, usually by consuming young shoots and leaves in the early springtime.

SYMPTOMS

Generally, symptoms of drunkenness are observed. Trembling, muscular weakness and incoordination are commonly seen. In addition, vomiting, irritated mucous membranes and paralysis may occur.

TREATMENT

Non-specific. Laxatives and supportive therapy are suggested.

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