En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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
7 ratings

Tuesday - May 05, 2009

From: Gause, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Is Texas ragwort (Senecio ampullaceus) toxic to livestock?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Mr. Smarty Plants, I have a question related to Texas Ragwort (Senecio ampullaceus): I am concerned about toxicity to livestock as well as interested in natural control methods. I was recently told that this particular plant is toxic to animals, and a cursory check seems to indicate that certian senecio's are toxic, but perhaps not Texas Ragwort. How do I identify the plants on my land to be Texas Ragwort and how do I control them naturally? Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

Toxic Plants of Texas lists Senecio ampullaceus (Texas ragwort) as being toxic with cattle dying from liver failure several months after eating the plants. This liver cirrhosis is typical of that produced by pyrrolizidine alkaloids.  Toxic Plants of Texas also lists Senecio flaccidus var. douglasii [syn. Senecio douglasii] (Douglas' ragwort), Senecio riddellii (Riddell's ragwort) and Packera glabella [syn. Senecio glabella] (butterweed) as toxic. Of these species, S. ampullaceus is the only one of the Senecios to occur in Milam County according to the USDA Plants Database.

Several other databases (Poisonous Plants of North Carolina, Cornell University Plants Poisonous to Livestock, University of California-Davis Toxic Plants  and University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants) list all Senecio spp. as toxic and the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System lists several species of Senecio as being toxic. Not all the databases agree on the severity of the toxicity.  Given that all species of Senecio have some toxicity, it isn't really necessary to distinguish which one to control—you probably should endeavor to control any species of Senecio that you find in your pasture.  Management practices include providing plenty of hay or other feed so that cattle will not be tempted to eat the young ragwort plants.  Also, sheep, which are more tolerant of the toxins, can be used to clear the pasture of the plants.  Additionally, Toxic Plants of Texas suggests some herbicidal controls.


Senecio ampullaceus

Senecio ampullaceus

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Do prairie verbenas (Glandularia bipinnatifida) have toxic sap?
March 16, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I live in Wimberley, TX and my 6 year old daughter picked wildflowers for her Mom over the weekend. I believe the species was Prairie Verbena but not 100% certain. Now, fo...
view the full question and answer

Identity of plant with thorns in Maryland
August 27, 2013 - I live in Maryland and was walking in the woods one day when I accidentally stumbled in to a thorn bush. I don't remember what color the thorns where or very much about the plant in general but I do ...
view the full question and answer

Vines for fence, safe for horses in California
December 12, 2013 - I live in a fire prone part of Orange County, CA named Silverado and own horses. Am interested in fast growing vines to cover a fenced area which are horse safe. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Are leaves of banana trees poisonous?
August 10, 2008 - are the leaves of banana trees poisonous? the tree will be in a preschool classroom How do i care for the tree?
view the full question and answer

Lantana poisonous to people, animals
May 07, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I read your response to the woman with the cow eating her plants over her neighbors fence. Just so you know- Lantana is poisionous. To humans and cattle. You recommended it as a...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center