toxic plants cowgirl magazine
What is your horse eating?……

Your horse’s field may be growing toxic plants without you even realizing it. They’re more common than you would think! Some are so poisonous that they can be fatal. Others are not nearly as bad and will only cause minor reactions when consumed in large quantities. It’s important you study up on the plants your horse is eating!


1. Hemlock (Conium maculatum) – Results in nervousness, tremors, diminished heart & respiratory rates, and colic.

2. Bracken fern (Pteridum aquilinum) – Can cause a vitamin B1 deficiency.

3. Yellow star thistle/Russian knapweed (Centauria spp.) – Will have clenched facial muscles.

4. Yew (Taxus spp.) – Unfortunately, sudden death is a common sign.


5. Oleander (Nerium oleander) – Watch out for colic, difficulty breathing, and tremors.

6. Johnsongrass/Sudan grass (Sorghum spp.) – Horses may experience rapid breathing, tremors, and frequent urination.

7. Tansy ragwort (Senecio spp.) – Can cause liver failure.

8. Locoweed (Astragalus spp. or Oxytropis spp.) – Horses may display unusual movement and even stagger or fall.

9. Water hemlock (Cicuta spp.) – You may notice excessive salivation, nervousness, and trouble breathing.

Red maple leaves

10. Red maple trees(Acer rubrum) – Signs of poisoning include lack of appetite, rapid heart rate, and dehydration.

If you’re not sure what plants you have in your field, try an app or website like Pl@ntNet. You can look through various pictures and categories to see what’s lurking in your pastures. You may even find it helpful to join Facebook groups and share pictures of the plant you’re concerned about.