Weed in georgia with pinkish seeds on stem

Weed in georgia with pinkish seeds on stem

A neighbor asked me to identify a robust perennial that keeps coming up in his garden. It had long, tropical-looking leaves and floppy racemes with small white flowers. This was a new one for me. Turned out it was common pokeweed (Phytolacca americana), a native of eastern North America. In the south some people eat it (poke salad), and a few southerners probably brought it west as a garden vegetable. But the whole plant is toxic if improperly prepared, so it’s the fugu of weeds.

A couple of weeks later my daughter brought home a stalk of purple berries and asked if she could eat them. “No,” I said, “they contain numerous saponins and oxalates.” I began to wonder if there’s more pokeweed around than I realized.

Then Gillies Robertson of Yolo RCD sent photos of a purple-berried plant found along a slough near Grimes. Common pokeweed again.

Pokeweed is in the Phytolaccaceae. This weed can grow to 10 feet tall. It dies back in winter then reemerges from the ground in spring, growing from a fat fleshy storage root. The leaves are large, 3 inches to a foot long and 1 to 5 inches wide, often with reddish stalks and lower veins. From August to October, pokeweed produces racemes of white flowers followed by reddish-purple berries. In its natural state, all parts of the plant, especially the root, are toxic to humans. Birds can eat the berries but sometimes act funny afterwards.

This plant can be found in most of the contiguous states. In drier regions, it prefers gardens and irrigated areas. Southerners with pokeweed experience suggest controlling it by digging up as much of the taproot as possible and/or by cutting off the stalks and painting the stubs with concentrated glyphosate (e.g. Roundup). Either way, treatments will probably have to be repeated until the plant’s storage reserves are worn down. And it’s a good idea to deal with pokeweed before it produces berries and seeds.

Since this is the first year I’ve seen it, and since I suddenly ran into it in three locations within a few weeks, I’m guessing that the common pokeweed population is expanding. This plant seems robust enough to cause some trouble if it becomes established in natural riparian areas.

All photos from J.M. DiTomaso and E.A. Healy, Weeds of California and Other Western States, 2007.

THANK YOU! For the past two summers I have had a plant or two near the orange tree. I let them grow as the feral cats like sleeping under their shade during the heat of a hot Sacramento day. This spring they are trying to take over the backyard – so most are going out today,

Well, now I know that the strange plant that popped up in the yard is Pokeweed. Will consider how to deal with it. It was so unusual I let it mature.

I have not seen this before in Amador County, Ca.

Me and my friends have seen the plant around the school ,when it pops up we use the berries to make ink for my quil pen and use the dead stalks sort of like a papyrus ,I’m glad I finally know what it is

I don’t know how it arrived in Vermont but it’s been here 3 years now and growing stronger ! The stalks are 8-10 feet high and spreading.I was warned not to let it touch me as I chopped it down.A small part brushed my heel and ankle as I tried to free it and I’m itching fiercly.So I feel it IS toxic even when not eating it..Does burning the chopped down stalks and leaves kill the berries which I assume are seeds?

Growing now, about 5′ tall and 4′ wide, shaped as a tree, in an ornamental garden at a winery in Glen Ellen; we have been admiring it and wondering where we can buy one, only to do the research and find it is an undesirable. I’ll pass along the information to the owners; I have seen some others sprouting up.

A plant fitting the description of Pokweed has been growing in my atrium here in Yuba City this summer. It was about 6 inches tall when I first noticed it among the begonias and cyclamen I had planted in the spring. I have lived here 20 years and had not seen such a plant before especially growing my atrium. I was curious to see what it would become so now it is about 3 ft tall w dark red berries. Now that I know it is toxic, I will remove it.

First time this has been in my yard. I had no idea what it was. but it was healthy and thriving. I looked up “purple berry producing weed. Bingo. Thank you, from lower Michigan.

I was told it was a weed in is normally seen in Louisiana. I had never seen them come up before that was near a cut tree so they grew the summer long, being nearly 10 feet high although a very dry and excessively hot this summer. Thanks for the heads up!

We have it here in KS also. There were several “trees” of it when I moved into my rental house and I cut them down. of course they came back. The next year I dug them up, but a few smaller ones still came up here and there.

I’m so glad I found this blog. We have a nice healthy one by our garden gate, about 5 feet all. It seems to have appeared after I put a nursery plant of some kind in the ground, which didn’t make it (maybe came in with that plant?). We thought it was unusual, and let it grow. I will admit to liking the look of it, but if it is toxic and as invasive as it is, I will be removing all traces.

I have seen a lot of these plants in southwestern Virginia. I was thinking that the locals called it by a different name. Do you know if this is true, and if so, do you know this other name?

Plants, and especially weeds, can have lots of different common names in different areas of the country and world.

According to the reference “Weeds of California and other Western States”, what this article called common pokeweed (Latin name: Phytolacca americana L.) is also known as: American cancer, American pokeweed, cancer jalap, coakum, garget, inkberry, pigeonberry, poke, poke sallet, pokeberry, pokeweed,red-ink plant, redweed, scoke, and Virgina poke. And that’s just in the U.S.!
Take care.

Its grows here in middle TN, and every year I dutifully remove it, but it comes back everyyear. It is rather colorful and distinctive.

The last few years we have seen the spread of this plant in northern Michigan (45th parallel)it’s very hardy!

My grandparents cook it and eat it. I never been brave enough to try it, but they seem to love it toxic or not.

Thank you for posting this! We live in the eastern side of the San Francisco bay. These things have aggressively come back under the fence for the last 15 years. Now that I know it is not an endangered plant, and is truly an undesirable weed, I’ll try with renewed vigor to destroy it.

I have a pokeweed plant growing in my raised vegetable garden. I didn’t know what it was until now and let it grow because I was curious. Now I’m worried about the other veggies that are growing with it. Will they be safe to eat? I am going to remove the pokeweed. Thanks!

Lynn, the toxic compounds in pokeweed are in the tissues – highest in the fruits but present in all plant parts. But, should not affect nearby plants (other than being a giant competitor for light and other resources). In the southern US, pokeweed greens are eaten after proper preparation (look up poke salad, or poke sallet). Brad

Go ahead and pull the pokeweed, but don’t worry about the other plants – they won’t be affected just by growing next to it. Wash your veggies anyway because of bugs & birds. Cheers!

Is tarping the affected area effective? I have a stand of pokeweed in my backyard in any area where I used to have variegated weigela, but this and an invasive vine that also produces berries caused me to Hagee to take the weigela down.

I would now like to permanently remove these invasive weeds so that i can plant something desirable. What would be the best way to go about this?

I haven’t heard of tarping for pokeweed. In general, it’s hard to control perennial weeds like this by tarping – they have a lot of underground energy reserves and they find a way to grow around or through the tarp.

If you want to use organic methods, the best thing to do is keep pulling the plants, trying to get as much of the roots as possible, and put ’em in the trash or lay them out on tarmac (or a tarp) to dry completely. It may take a couple of seasons to get all the stragglers.

If you are comfortable using herbicides, you can cut the plants and paint the cut stems with concentrated glyphosate (eg Roundup) or triclopyr (eg Garlon). The nice thing about this application method is that the chemical only goes where you put it.

Small plant in a half-barrel last summer, and this summer it’s 6 or 7 feet tall! I’ve been giving it plenty of water, responding to it’s enthusiasm and not knowing what it was. Just had it identified by taking a sprig to the nursery her in Willits, CA (Mendocino County). Not sure what I’m going to do – I’ll just keep an eye on it. It’s not bothering anything else right now, and it’s nice to have something that’s not languishing in the summer heat.

I have one growing in my garden too – didn’t know what it was. Now its about 5′ tall. So I just left it alone as something (Aug) interesting. Thanks for the info.

This was the first article to appear when I searched for “weed tall purple stalk purple berries”. I live in western Missouri, and I’m seeing this start to grow in my yard more frequently over the last couple of years. I saw some very tall plants near some hiking trails in eastern Kansas wooded areas. Thanks for providing this information.

I am glad I finally found out what this is! It grows right next to my hibiscus plant and I have been letting it grow to see what it was. Thanks for the info 🙂

I wanted to add that this plant is a good source of food for a variety of birds. You mentioned “birds can eat the berries but sometimes act funny afterwards” but I’ve found several sources that state it is a useful food especially for migrating birds. The patch in my backyard attracts lots of birds and so far I haven’t observed any acting strangely. Here’s one reliable link that explains it in an easy to read manner. https://westboroughlandtrust.org/nn/nn145

this plant, get rid of it ASAP if its in your yard, it is not something u want to keep as an ornament or whatever, and most likely it will come back anyway if you try to get rid of it, and spread out of control. I have this in my backyard, its taken over a lot of space. It’s roots are deep and hard to get rid of. Comes back after winter.

this plant will become your worste nightmare in your yard or garden. Get rid of it asap, root and all.

It looks cool until you realize its spreading everywhere and its roots go deep.

We have three of these robustly growing plants in our backyard in Michigan. I ended up taking a picture and using an app to identify as pokeweed. After reading some of the comments I think I’ll go pull them out after work.

I stumble across this plant just today. I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was black current. Boy was I wrong. I wad wondering if the beautifully fusia colored berries could be used as a dye?

Well hallelujah. I recently renovated a beautiful old garden space on Chicago’s North Shore. I dug at least a dozen of the tubers/bulbs up but there were clearly a couple left behind that have come back. Both client and I were fascinated by them, saw them beginning to flower and thought. what the heck?! Well, experiment over. Thanks much!

They’re showing up in Sonoma & Marin Counties (California) now, too. I found three in backyard of a family property, they’re ten feet tall and a bit wider than that at the crown. Pretty, but I don’t want the entire area filled with them. I noticed two adjoining yards have them, too, on the other side of the fence corner. Thanks for posting what they are, how they grow and that some care should be taken when dealing with them!

This plant started growing out of our fire pit we have in our yard. (In Texas) Ive let it grow because I thought it was very unusual and kind of pretty. There is piles of leaves branches that we have put in the fire pit and it’s growing right up through them.

This plant is everywhere in the Midwest. It grows so large and quickly that its appearance is often quite intimidating. The one growing outside my bedroom window can be seen moving or possibly growing at night. Sometimes when I awake in the middle of the night it’s gone but always returns by sun-up. It’s moving now. These plants are evil.

Thank you so much! This weed is taking over my yard in central Connecticut! It loves to grow under my small trees and strangles them. I will cut them down and paint the roots! I live in a farm fied so it may be impossible to get rid of them!

You all are silly. I come from South Carolina and live in Florida now for the last 20 years. I have eaten Phytolacca Americana all my life and continue to grow and cook it for food to this very day. You simply have to prepare it properly. It is good and healthy for the body. Thank God for Pokeweed, Poke Salad, Poke Salat. It is a wonderful and beautiful plant. The berries were used to make ink to write both the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution for the united States of America. Kudzu is edible also, and plentiful. At any rate, if you prefer to rely upon the corporate grocery chains for all your nutritional needs at a high cost, be my guest avoid all natural foods that nature provides us at no cost.

I love my Poke Sallet plant in San Francisco. It popped up in a corner of my garden that has always needed just the right plant and this is it! I prune it about twice a week as it is very prolific. It was supposed to die back in December, but I believe becasue of our temperate climate it didn’t. Haven’t eaten the leaves, yet. I have been trying to find out if you can harvest new leaves from an established plant or only when it first pops from the ground. Info would be appreciated!

I agree with eating weeds & wild plants (make sure they haven’t been sprayed), and I also think Pokeweed is a nice-looking plant. Problem is, sometimes it wants to be the only plant in the garden.
Some references suggest that pokeweed leaves should only be harvested when they first come out of the ground – later on, the plant is too toxic – and like Ed says, it has to be prepared properly.

Growing up we had a huge pokeweed at the edge of our woods. (Now there are several). As a kid I would make ink from the berries and use a homemade dip pen made from an ostrich feather to write and draw with. I had no idea what it was until now. – glad I was a smart kid and didn’t try to taste them since I didn’t know what it was!

Hi Brad,
We have pokeweed growing along riparian areas in Chico, CA and occasionally in irrigated gardens in the city. One popped up as a seedling in my backyard and I let it grow because it reminded me of my grandfathers woods in Pennsylvania where it’s native. As a boy, I enjoyed chopping them down with a pocket knife as I roamed through the woods (kind of like a light saber, but way before that concept existed!). I let the plant in my yard grow and bloom because of the interesting leaves, stems, and branching pattern but I snip off the immature berry clusters to keep it from seeding and spreading. Others come up in my yard below trees where birds drop seeds but I just weed them out when they’re small seedlings. After several years I got tired of it and just dug out the main roots. Problem solved but enjoyable memories.

I have a large pokeweed plant in my dog yard and want to safely remove it without dropping seeds or doing anything else to help it spread. Can I safely cut stalks to get to root without worrying about toxic sap dripping on ground. I am a worrywort as you can tell and three time cancer survivor. Any help would be appreciated greatly.

This isn’t a super-toxic plant like poison hemlock, and I assume that soil microbes will break down any sap that lands on the ground. I don’t think the plant has a smell that would attract dog interest. (Though I am sometimes amazed at what dogs will eat.)

Is this dangerous to dogs. my dog went outside and rolled in it I wiped off his coat but he now has purple stains. I am worried now. If he picks it will be get sick.

Pretty common here in central NJ. Pop up in areas under large shrubs and border trees. I usually dig up the tubers after frost has killed back the foliage in late fall. Just dug up half dozen today.Dispose of with fall leaves.

Pokeweed is highly invasive. Each plant produces berries which, when eaten by birds, propagate the plant even further. This “native” crowds out other native species. Dig up the roots as much as you can; this isn’t hard, but it is vital to controlling the growth. Many times, the seeds to this plant lay dormant, and they are viable for up to forty years. Often, it they begin to resurface in recently disturbed ground (such as a construction site), and can seem to appear out of nowhere. Really, it could have been birds from four decades ago that did you the favor of dropping the seeds of this entiende plant for you to find when you make your own garden, move into a home, or just have the plain bad luck of being somewhere the plant has already taken over. If you like it, just be aware that your one plant can produce thousands of other seeds.

I found a new plant in my garden with huge and very beautiful leaves that I thought was pretty until I knew it was poisonous.
thank you for the information

I hadn’t been In my backyard for 2wks then I seen these everywhere..they were cute so I left it..not sure how long it was but these flowers were everywhere taller than me, and growing these berries..so now I find out that these berries I adore is a weed!! Now the name I came up with for this weed really fits..I’d ask friends if anyone liked berries they say what kind of berries . I’d say DINGLE BERRIES. makes me laugh now. why are there so many cute weeds now..grass I’ve been trying to grow just found out it’s a weed . so I’ll be removing toxic plant though..thanks everyone..

The info on this is mixed. I wouldn’t burn a huge pile of pokeweed & stand in the smoke. but a few pieces tossed into a burn should be OK.

Now I know what Elvis was singing about! “Poke Salad Annie, Gator ate your granny”
I have one of these growing in my front flower bed amongst my cone flowers. I sprayed it with weed killer and now will dig up that monstrous root to prevent reemergence!! Thanks for the post!!

Toxic Weed Identification

Top 22 Toxic Weeds that Affect the Southeast

Black Cherry


· Dark Smooth Bark.

· Fruits are black, shiny, juicy.

· Leaves are alternate.

Commonplace in fencerows and edges of pastures.

Animals Affected

· Ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats, etc.) more commonly affected.

· Horses and other single-stomach animals can also be affected.


· Anxious/staggering, collapse, and convulsions before death.

· Animals may show signs within 15-30 minutes after consuming and may die within one hour.

· Mucous membranes and the blood are bright “cherry” red in color.


•Hydrocyanic acid (also called prussic acid), created by enzymatic action on the glucoside amygdalin.

•It is present primarily in the wilted leaves (i.e. fallen trees), but the bark and twigs are also toxic.

Black Locust


* Deeply furrowed, thick bark.

* Paired thorns at the base of each compound leaf.

* Eaves are alternate, pinnately compound.

· Flowers are showy, white, very fragrant and droop.

· Commonplace in fencerows and edges of pastures.

Animals Affected

· Affects horses, cattle, sheep, poultry, and humans.

* Horses are the most susceptible.

* Are goats susceptible? Not as many cases but can still be.


· Depression, loss of appetite, weakness, dilated pupils.

· Posterior paralysis, irregular pulse, difficulty breathing, and bloody diarrhea.


•Poisoning usually occurs by ingesting roots, bark, sprouts, seed pods, or trimmings.



· Coarse perennial fern to 3ft tall.

* Older fronds leathery, triangular.

· Common in old fields, waste places, open woods, roadsides, and particularly on relatively dry sites.

Animals Affected

· Affects all forage-fed livestock.

* Horses are the most susceptible.

* Are goats susceptible? Not as many cases but can still be.


· Monogastrics lack coordination, often standing with legs spread apart as if bracing.

· Arched back and neck.

· Fever is present up to 104 o F.

· Before death, horses may “head press” against objects and have spasms.

· Cattle may exhibit stages of signs.

* Difficult and loud breathing.

* More typical in younger animals.

· The enteric stage

* Bloody feces/urine and excessive bleeding from fly bites.

· The blood is slow to clot since platelets are deficient.

· Sheep and goats may show blindness due to degeneration of the retinal epithelial cells.

* Sheep and goats tens to avoid brackenfern more.


•Contains the enzyme thiaminase.

* Inactivates thiamine (Vitamin B1).

* Causes bone marrow to fail to produce new blood cells.

•All portions of the plant are toxic whether green or dry.

•Poisoning by the plant is cumulative.

* Builds up over time.

* Symptoms may not be immediate.

•Remains toxic if baled in hay.



· Low annual or perennial.

· Stem leaves alternate, simple, lobed or divided.

· Flowers usually with five glossy yellow petals (hence name).

· Occurs throughout the South.

* Common in old fields, waste places, open woods, roadsides, and particularly in relatively wet areas (near creeks, clayey soils).

Animals Affected

· All livestock are affected.

· Plant is very unpalatable and typically avoided by livestock unless forage/feed is limited.


· Abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, convulsions, and death.

· Milk from affected cows will be bitter and may be reddish in color.


•Contains an irritant oil called protoanemonin, derived from glycoside rarunculin.

•When flowering, more toxin present than the younger plant.

* Present in the stems and leaves.

Castor Bean


· Large woody annual (in the south), or perennial (in the tropics).

* Leaves alternate, up to 16” long, palmately lobed, serrated with gland-tipped teeth.

* Seeds (3/capsule) are shiny, mottled brown, resembling a tick.

· Cultivated ornamental throughout the South, occasionally escaping.

* Planted as mole repellant.

Animals Affected

· Horses and monogastrics (particularly hogs) are the most susceptible to poisoning, but all livestock and humans can be affected.


· Depending upon the amount consumed, signs appear several hours to days after consuming toxin.

· Violent purgation (straining and bloody diarrhea).

· Abdominal pain, weakness, trembling, and lack of coordination.


•The poisonous principle is a phytotoxin called ricin.

* Inhibits protein synthesis.

* Highly toxic (Low LD50).

•All parts of the plant are toxic, especially the seeds.

•Toxicity is seen most often in spring and summer.



· Small to medium-sized tree.

* Leaves alternate, deciduous, bipinnately compound.

* Leaflets deeply toothed at margins.

* Fruit one-seeded, greenish yellow to yellow-tan, ½” in dimeter.

· Found throughout the South, but rare in the northern areas.

* Once an ornamental but widely escaped.

* Found along roadsides and fence rows, in waste places, and around buildings.

Animals Affected

· Swine and sheep are most often affected.

* Toxicity may occur after consumption of more then 0.5% of body weight.

· Goats, poultry, and cattle can be poisoned, but larger amounts are required.


· Stomach irritation, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, paralysis, irregular breathing, and respiratory distress.


•The toxins are tetranortriterpene neurotoxins and unidentified resins.

•The fruit (berries) are the most toxic part of the tree.

•The leaves, bark, and flowers are mildly toxic and usually are no problem.

•Most poisonings occur in the fall or winter when the berries ripen.



· Coarse, branching annual weed, 1-3 feet.

* Leaves alternate, simple, coarsely pubescent, shallowly lobed.

* Fruit broadly cylindrical, spiny bur, ½ – 1” long.

· Found throughout the South.

· Most abundant in fertile soil gardens, fields, roadsides, etc. in full sunlight.

Animals Affected

· Swine are the animals most commonly poisoned.

* They root up and ingest the two-leaf stage of the plant in the springtime.

· Chickens are other livestock have also been poisoned but are less likely to consume more potent plant parts.


· Vomiting and gastrointestinal irritation with occasional diarrhea.

· Large amounts often cause nervous signs, including spasmodic running movements and convulsions.


•Principle toxin is the glycoside carboxyatractyloside.

* It is concentrated in the seeds and seedlings (cotyledon state).

•Mature plants are distasteful to animals and contain less of the toxin.

Dallisgrass Ergot


· Found on dallisgrass seedheads.

* Warm season perennial grass, that grows in loose bunch.

* Seed head had 3-6 spikes arising from different points long stem. The spikes often droop.

· Fungal mass (ergot body) grows in place of a seed.

· Begins as a tan/orange, round mass and becomes black and shrunken.

Animals Affected

· All grazing animals.


· May occur as early as 3 days after introduction to an infected forage.

· “Staggers,” or lack of coordination, trembling, progressing to struggling to walk or causing the animal to get down and be unable to stand.

· Deaths are rare except in cases of injury associated with incoordination.


•Tremorgenic mycotoxin, paspalitrems.

•Interferes with nerve signals and nervous system activity.

•Found only in affected seedheads.

•Mycotoxin is stable when dry and can cause effects if hay is contaminated.

Ground Cherry


· Annual or perennial herbs.

* Branched and spreading at the top.

* Leaves alternate, simple, smooth margined or irregularly toothed.

* Funnel-shaped, yellowish flowers.

* Fruit a globose yellow, red to purple berry surrounded by a papery sac.

Typically found in disturbed areas, thin woodlands, field edges

Animals Affected

· All grazing animals are susceptible.


· Weakness, excess salivation, shortness of breath, trembling, progressive paralysis.

· Acute hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

· Collapse and death.


•Solanine and other solanidine alkaloids.

•Toxins concentrated in unripe berries and leaves.

* No toxicity in ripe berries.

Hemp Dogbane


· Perennial herb with milky juice.

* Leaves opposite, simple, margins not toothed.

* Flowers small, pink-tinged, bell shaped.

* Fruit of 2 long and slender pods with many silky-haired seeds.

· Frequently found in disturbed areas, roadsides, and field edges.

Animals Affected

· All grazing animals are susceptible.


· Rapid pulse, dilation of pupils, weakness, convulsions, vomiting.

· Blue coloration of mucous membranes.

· Mild myocardial degeneration to cardiac arrest and death.

* Death generally occurs within 6-12 hours of consumption.


•Resins and cardiac glycosides, including cymarin, which was once used as a cardiac stimulant.

•All plant parts contain the toxins, whether fresh or dry.

•Lethal dose may be less than 15 grams.



· Perennial, thorny weed ½ – 1 ½ feet tall.

* Leaves alternate, simple, irregularly pinnately lobed.

* Flowers white to purple, borne in terminal racemes.

* Green fruit turn yellow, resembling a small tomato.

· Found throughout the South and common in pastures, and old fields.

Animals Affected

All grazing animals are susceptible.


· Weakness, excess salivation, shortness of breath, trembling, progressive paralysis.

· Acute hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

· Collapse and death.


•Solanine and other solanidine alkaloids.

•All plant parts are toxic.

* Toxins concentrated in berries and are more toxic when mature (yellow).



· Coarse, foul-smelling, annual, ½ – 2 feet tall, with purple-tinged stems.

* Leaves alternate, coarsely and irregularly toothed.

* Large, white to lavender, flowers.

* Fruit is spiny capsule with many black, shiny seeds.

· Distributed throughout the South; most abundant in fertile fields, gardens, and barn lots.

Animals Affected

· All livestock are susceptible to the toxins.

* Cattle and swine are most commonly affected.


· Weak rapid pulse and heartbeat, dilated pupils, dry mouth, incoordination, convulsions, coma.


•The toxic principles are the tropane alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine.

•All parts of the plant are considered poisonous, whether green or dry.

* The seeds are particularly poisonous.



· Coarse perennial grass up to 8 feet tall.

* Leaves may be up to 3 feet long and 2 inches wide.

* Panicle often brown to purplish, that can be as broad as up to 18 inches wide.

· Found throughout the South, especially in old fields, waste places, and fence rows.

Animals Affected

· Ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats, etc.) more commonly affected.

· Horses and other single-stomach animals can also be affected.


· Anxious/staggering, collapse, and convulsions before death.

· Animals may show signs within 15-30 minutes after consuming and may die within the hour.

· Mucous membranes and the blood are bright red in color.


•Hydrocyanic acid (also called prussic acid), created by enzymatic action on the glycoside dhurrin.

•It is present primarily in stressed and damaged leaves (i.e. wilted by drought, frost, trampling, etc.).



· Erect summer perennial weed.

* Milky sap from stems and roots.

* Leaves are simple and opposite, whorled or alternate.

* Flowers are in dense, showy umbels (various colors).

* Fruit is an elongated follicle splitting on one side, that releases many seeds topped with white, silky hairs.

· Found throughout the South in old fields, and along roadsides and fence rows.

Animals Affected

· All animals are susceptible.


· Staggering, convulsions, bloating, labored breathing, dilated pupils, rapid and weak pulse, coma, death.


•Steroid glycosides and toxic resinous substances.

•Toxins are present in all plant parts, whether green or dry.



· Ornamental shrub, 4-30 feet tall.

* Leaves opposite or whorled, evergreen, and leathery.

* Flowers are showy (various colors) in large terminal clusters.

· Found in Costal Plain from Florida to Louisiana, particularly near coast and escaping along roadsides, edges of woods, and fence rows.

Animals Affected

· All animals are susceptible.


· Severe gastroenteritis, vomiting, diarrhea, increased pulse rate, weakness, death.


•Digitoxin-type glycosides (oleandroside, nerioside, and others).

•Toxins are present in all plant parts, whether green or dry.

•Toxins may also be inhaled in smoke when plants are burned.

•Human poisoning occasionally occurs from using sticks from nearby oleander plants to roast food.

Perilla Mint


· Annual herb, ½ – 2 feet tall.

* Stems are four-sided and freely branched.

* Leaves are opposite, purple or green, ovate, coarsely serrate, with a strong pungent order when crushed.

* Flowers are small, white to purple, in terminal panicles.

· Found throughout the South, mostly in pastures and fields, along roadsides, and old home sites.

Animals Affected

· Most often affects cattle and horses. Can affect other grazing livestock.

* May cause birth defects in calves when hay containing perilla mint is fed to cows early in gestation.


· Occur 2-10 days after exposure.

· Labored breathing, lowered head, reluctance to move, death on exertion.

* Pulmonary emphysema (restrictions) and edema (fluid buildup)


•The principle toxin is a furan (perilla ketone).

•Toxins are present in all plant parts, whether green or dry.

•Toxic cases are seen sporadically, usually in the late summer or fall after grazing the plant.

Poison Hemlock


· Highly branched biennial herb, up to 7 feet tall, with hollow spotted stems.

* Leaves resemble parsley and have a parsnip odor when crushed.

* Flowers are white, in umbles.

· Found throughout the South, typically in damp waste areas.

Animals Affected

· All animals are susceptible.

* Famous for its use in ancient Greece to poison condemned prisoners, including Socrates.

* Children are sometimes poisoned when using the hollow stems as “pea-shooters.”


· Dilated pupils, weakness, staggering gait, slow pulse progressing to rapid.

· Trembling and jerking motions are followed by convulsions.

· Slow, irregular breathing, and death from respiratory failure.

· Chronic ingestion may lead to abnormal fetal development.


•Piperidine alkaloids (coniine and others) in all vegetative parts.

* The stems, leaves, and mature fruits are toxic.

* The leaves are more dangerous in the springtime, and the fruit is the most dangerous in the fall.



· Perennial herb, up to 9 feet tall.

* Stems green to red/purple, fleshy, smooth.

* Leaves alternate, light green, lanceolate.

* Flowers white to purplish in drooping racemes.

* Ripe fruit black, juicy, that stains.

· Distributed throughout the South. Most common on waster ground, fence rows, pastures, and old home sites.

Animal Affected

· Pigs, cattle, sheep, horses, and humans.


· Vomiting, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, breakdown of red blood cells, drop in milk production.

· Convulsions, death from respiratory failure.

* Post-mortem often reveals ulcerative gastritis, mucosal hemorrhage, dark liver.

· Most animals recover within 24-48 hours after removing threat.


•Principle toxins include oxalic acid, a saponin (phytolaccotoxin), and an alkaloid (phytolaccin).

•Toxins are present in all plant parts, but the roots are the most toxic.

Rhododendrons & Azaleas


· Shrub or densely branched small tree 3-10 feet tall.

* Leaves are alternate, leathery, evergreen (some azaleas are deciduous), lanceolate to elliptic.

* Flowers are showy, white, red, pink, or purple in terminal clusters.

· Naturally found in the Appalachian mountains, but used as ornamentals throughout the South.

Animals Affected

· Ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats, etc.) more commonly affected.

· Horses and other single-stomach animals can also be affected, but are less likely to graze these plants.


· Bloating, salivation, vomiting, and abdominal pain as evidenced by straining.

· Eventually the animals grow weak, stagger, and become prostrate.


•Andromedotoxin is the principle toxin. Some may also contain a glucoside od hydroquinone.

•Toxins are present in all plant parts, but particularly the leaves.

•Poisoning can occur at any time of the year.

* More commonly seen in the early spring or in the wintertime.



· Annual legume, 2-7 feet tall.

* Stem is often woody at base.

* Leaves are pinnately compound and alternate.

* Flowers yellow, often streaked with purple, in 206 clusters.

* Pods are linear and contain 30-40 seeds that break free when mature and dry.

· Found mostly in Coastal Plain from Virginia to Florida to Texas, most abundant alongside ditches/stream banks.

Animals Affected

· All animals are believed to be susceptible.


· Variable but include rapid pulse, weak respiration, stiff gait, walk with arched back, diarrhea, death.

* Progression of signs may be a matter of hours.

· Affected animals are often found dead. Post mortem may reveal seeds in the rumen and a hemorrhagic inflammation of the abomasum and intestines.


•The principle toxin is a saponic glycoside.

* Exact toxin and mechanism are unclear.

•It is believed that all plant parts are toxic, but the seeds are most toxic.