Welcome to the latest edition of the a-z of plants that have it in for horses. Today’s plant is one that many will know & love, it is beautiful, delicate & smells divine. Loco Weed may look innocent & smell sweet, but don’t get too close, it is deadly toxic – even to humans.
A Little About Loco Weed
Astragalus & Oxytropis species are also Crazy Weed & Loco Weed. There are two different types of this plant.
Astragalus is an annual with dark purple stems. Leaves are hairy & grow in leaflets. Flowers are purple & grow in clusters at the end of branches.
Oxytropis is an annual legume with leaves that are covered in fine, white hairs. Flowers are white & grow in spikes on a leafless stalk.
How Dangerous Is It?
This plant is unpalatable & generally only a concern during drought conditions. While it is not fatal, this plant is worth noting. Once an animal starts eating it, they can become addicted to it & will eat nothing else. Loco Weed contains Swainsonine which disrupts the function of brain cells, A condition called “locoism”, the effects of which are irreversible.
All parts of this plant are toxic (both fresh & dried) to equines.
What To Look For
You know your animal the best, so you should know when something is amiss. Loco Weed toxicity symptoms occur after constant ingestion & include strange behavior, low sensory & motor nerve function, depression of the central nervous system, dull eyes, nervousness, progressive loss of coordination, lack of appetite/ thirst, fetal death, birth defects, excitability & confusion.
Be sure to check out the Loco Weed page to learn more about the plant & while you are at it why not check out more toxic plants?
*It should be noted that we’re not veterinarians. This information is written specifically for horses & should be used for reference purposes only. If you think your horse has eaten something toxic call your vet right away.