En EspaÑol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - More on bluebonnets

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - February 17, 2005

From: Newberry, SC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: More on bluebonnets
Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

We live on a farm and have recently had a cow that was deathly sick, then finally got better. We also had a couple of calving problems with the cows. I was reading about how toxic tailcup lupine is to animals and wondered if it occurs in South Carolina? I am almost sure I've seen this flower here before. I thought it had a beautiful purple flower on it. Could this be it?

ANSWER:

Tailcup Lupine, or Kellog's spurred lupine, (Lupinus caudatus), a western US species, does not occur in South Carolina.  There are three lupine species that occur in South Carolina, but only two occur in your area: Sky-blue Lupine (L. diffusus) and Sundial Lupine (L. perennis).  However, it is unlikely your cattle were poisoned by ingesting lupines.  Cattle, and nearly all other grazing animals for that matter, find lupines very unpalatable and will only eat them in severely overgrazed situations where there is nothing else to eat.   Central Texas is known for its bluebonnets largely because our lupines take advantage of the fact that cattle won't eat them and graze out most of their competition.

The most common cause of cattle poisoning in your area is probably wilted cherry foliage.  Cherries, especially choke cherry (Prunus virginiana), commonly occur in fence rows.  Landowners clear their fence rows and sometimes leave some of the cherry limbs behind.  As the foliage dies, cyanide forms in the wilting leaves.  Cows come along and consume the foliage (they find cherry foliage very tasty) and get sick and often die.  Here is a link to a helpful site at Clemson University.  Purdue University in Indiana and Cornell University in New York both have databases listing plants poisonous to livestock and pets. Your veterinarian should be able to better diagnose the cause of the poisoning, or help you identify potential problems on your land.  
 

More Wildflowers Questions

Native plants for restoring a North Carolina pond site
April 12, 2011 - I reconstructed the dam to a 50 year old cattle pond at our high-end residential development in Charlotte, NC. There are many large mature trees around the pond but also some good sun exposure at two ...
view the full question and answer

Bluebonnet prospects for 2009 in Central Texas
January 31, 2009 - How does the bluebonnet season look for 2009 in Central Texas (Austin). Will it be a good year and when will it start and when will it peak? Thanks for all you do!!!
view the full question and answer

Predictin bloom time for Indian Blankets (Gaillardia pulchella)
April 04, 2006 - Is there any way to predict when the Indian Blankets will bloom this year? I live in Dallas, and last year they were in peak bloom at Twelve Hills Nature Center (also in Dallas) around the 21st of Ma...
view the full question and answer

A bounty of options for planting natives in Hockley Texas
April 21, 2011 - I have about 1 acre of land in Hockley Texas, outside Houston, that we had cleared of shrubs and poison ivy. We kept the trees so there are some areas with mostly shade and some areas with partial su...
view the full question and answer

What happens to wildflower seeds planted before a heavy rain in Cedar Creek TX
November 23, 2009 - I planted tx wildflower seeds yesterday--November 19th. It has rained all day with water standing in the places that I planted. Do you think that they will take? Am I going to have to plant more seeds...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center