From:Newberry, SC Region: Southeast Topic: Wildflowers Title: More on bluebonnets Answered by: Joe Marcus and Nan Hampton
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?
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
Texas natives that attract butterflies but not deer December 13, 2012 - I'd like to have some plants in my garden that are butterfly attractors, but that whitetail deer won't like. I can find lists of butterfly plants, and lists of deer-resistant plants -- is there a li... view the full question and answer
Need to Control Giant Ragweed in Wildflower Field in Austin, Texas December 11, 2010 - I have an acre pond around my business park planted with several different kinds of wildflowers. I let all the vegetation grow until the first frost, because I have wildflowers that grow throughout ... view the full question and answer
Texas native wildflowers viable in Michigan May 14, 2005 - Can you tell me what wildflowers native to Texas would also thrive in Michigan?? I'd like to surprise a "transplant". view the full question and answer
Prediction on 2007 wildflower blooming chances February 25, 2007 - Do you have a prediction on the wildflower season this year? Last year was very poor compared to other years and my sister from Georgia is wanting to visit this spring to go on wildflower expeditions... view the full question and answer
Soils for Central Texas wildflowers November 04, 2007 - Our family is moving to 40 acres near Lexington, TX with deep soil. Briefly talking to personnel at the Wildflower Center during Goblins in the Garden, I found that not all flowers in the Central Texa... view the full question and answer