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The topic of horse health not only includes keeping and caring for the animals, but also good knowledge of which plants are incompatible or even poisonous for horses. Unlike wild horses, horse owners with domesticated animals cannot rely on their instinct to know for themselves which plants are good and which are not. Poisonous plants contain so-called toxins, which can cause severe poisoning. Horses can come across poisonous plants in a wide variety of places.

Strong poisonous plants

Highly poisonous plants

Toxins can be contained in individual parts of the plant or in the entire plant. Poisonous plants can be ingested by the animals on meadows, pastures, in forests or on the banks of water. They not only absorb toxins from fresh plants, the hay or silage can also be contaminated with these plants, whereby the toxins of some plants can also be passed on through the mare's milk. It is all the more important to pay attention to poisonous plants and to avoid contact with them at all costs. The poison content is not the same for all plants. There are both highly poisonous and poisonous as well as slightly poisonous species.

Plants from A to F

Adonis

These poisonous plants from the buttercup family prefer to grow in meadows, on field edges and on embankments. Both the perennial, lemon-yellow flowering spring Adonis and the annual, red flowering summer Adonis are highly poisonous plants for horses. Its 3 - 7 cm flowers appear from May to June. The petals of the spring Adonis are shell-shaped, those of the summer variety are elongated with a dark spot towards the center of the flower. All plant parts above ground are dangerous for horses.

Amur Adonis, Adonis amurensis

bracken

Bracken with its typical light green fern leaves can be found in deciduous forests, on pastures and on forest roads. It grows up to 200 cm high. Its spores are dangerous to humans as well as horses and other animals. The spore flight begins in July and lasts well into September. The entire plant is poisonous to highly poisonous, with the poison content being highest in the young leaves. The toxic effect remains even after drying.

bracken

beans

Beans are grown in gardens and fields. Many species such as fire beans, horse beans, sow beans or fava beans are poisonous to horses. The flower colors are white, yellow or red, depending on the variety. The seeds and bean pods, which appear on the plants from September to October, are particularly poisonous. Because cooking eliminates the toxins, they are harmless to humans.

Runner beans, Phaseolus coccineus

aconite

In nature, these poisonous plants grow on damp pastures, in bushes and especially in mountainous regions. Blue and yellow aconite are particularly poisonous. The helmet-shaped flowers of this perennial plant sit on stalks up to 150 cm high from June to August. The toxins are in the flowers, leaves and roots.

Monkshood, Aconitum napellus

Tip: Monkshood is considered the most poisonous plant in Europe. Already 100 - 200 g can be deadly for horses.

thimble

The foxglove is also one of the highly poisonous plants, both the red and yellow as well as the large-flowered foxglove, which also has yellow flowers. They are found in deciduous and mixed forests, in clearings and on sandy slopes. The leaves of these poisonous plants are notched, slightly wrinkled and slightly hairy. Flowering time is from July to September. The bell-shaped flowers are in clusters on long, upright pedicels. All parts of the plant are highly toxic, even when dried. The strong toxins usually protect the plant from animal damage.

Foxglove, Digitalis

Plants from G to J

Spotted hemlock

  • Spotted hemlock grows along roadsides, fences and hedges
  • these poisonous plants can also be found on fallow land
  • are often confused with other umbellifers
  • including caraway, cow parsley or yarrow
  • pungent odor, an important distinguishing feature of the spotted hemlock
  • Odor is particularly noticeable on warm summer days
  • Red spots at the base of the erect stems, giving this plant its name
  • Hemlock reaches growth heights of over 200 cm
  • distinctive flowers are white or white-yellowish
  • up to 20-rayed umbel flowers
  • Flowering time is from July to August
  • highly toxic substances in all parts of the plant
hemlock

Groundman

While the ground ivy, also known as ground ivy, has a healing effect on humans, it is a highly poisonous plant for horses. It grows in deciduous, coniferous, mixed and alluvial forests as well as on damp meadows. Its growth can be upright or creeping and up to 60 cm high. Its blue-violet flowers appear from March to May. For horses, all parts of the plant are poisonous, even when dried as hay.

Ground ivy, Glechoma hederacea

autumn crocus

Autumn crocuses are often found along roadsides and in meadows. Their foliage is easily confused with those of wild garlic or lily of the valley. The most important distinguishing feature is the relatively late flowering of the autumn crocus, while lily of the valley and wild garlic flower much earlier in the year. The purple, in rare cases also white, crocus-like flowers are characteristic of autumn crocuses. The whole plant is highly poisonous, but especially its seeds and tubers. The toxins of this plant remain active in the dried hay for years.

Autumn crocus, Colchicum autumnale

Ragwort

  • only been found in pastures and at the edges of forests for a few years
  • is spreading there more and more
  • only an inconspicuous rosette to be seen in the first year
  • in the second year, the yellow, umbrella-like flowers develop
  • Plants seed and die
  • non-blooming remain as a rosette
  • these rosettes particularly popular with horses
  • Leaves are blunt and irregularly toothed
  • Upper sides of leaves dark green and slightly whitish undersides
  • Ragwort, both fresh and dried, is highly toxic
  • processed into hay, toxicity persists for up to four years
Ragwort

Plants from N to S

daffodils

In nature, daffodils, also known as daffodils, grow mainly on mountain meadows and in grassland. In Germany, wild daffodils are mainly found in the Rhineland and Hesse. The large, deep yellow, bell-shaped flowers are typical of this otherwise pretty bulbous plant. They show up early in the year, around March to April. The whole plant is poisonous to horses, especially the bulb. This applies to both the wild form and the cultivated forms.

Daffodils, Narcissus

canola

Oilseed rape is a cultivated plant and not a wild plant and can therefore be found in fields and fields. Its typical yellow flowers appear between April and August. It is often used as animal feed and can also be ingested by horses through contaminated compound feed. Residues from oil production as well as rapeseed meal, rapeseed meal and rapeseed cake are also used as animal feed and are highly toxic to horses.

Rape, Brassica napus

Tip: To protect the animals, feed should be checked for the small, deep black, round seeds of rapeseed.

celandine

Celandine, also known as wartwort, grows mainly on roadsides, walls and on the banks of water. The leaves are imparipinnate, green and glabrous on top, blue-green and hairy underneath. The herb reaches heights of growth of up to 100 cm. Between May and June, the yellow flowers appear in the form of long-stemmed umbels. Celandine is a proven medicinal herb for humans. The whole plant is very poisonous for horses, especially when fresh. When dried in hay, it is generally considered non-toxic.

celandine

poisonous plants

Plants from A to E

columbine

As a wild plant, the columbine, which belongs to the buttercup family, grows on the edges of forests and in sparse deciduous forests. The most striking thing about this plant is its distinctive, nodding, 3 - 5 cm large flowers, which differ in shape and color depending on the variety. The flowers appear in June/July and are on erect stalks that are up to 80 cm high. Its leaves are arranged in basal rosettes. Scattered leaves on the stems differ from those on the ground. The whole plant is poisonous to horses, with the highest concentration of poison in the seeds.

Columbines, Aquilegia

wood anemone

The wood anemone also belongs to the buttercup family, which are known to be poisonous plants. It is mainly found on heaths, orchards, in lawns and moors, but also in deciduous and mixed forests. In spring, from April to May, hundreds of large white flower stars rise above the green, deeply dissected leaves. With growth heights of 10 - 25 cm, the wood anemone remains relatively small. The poison content is highest in the fresh plant, while it is said to be somewhat lower and therefore less harmful in the dried state.

Wood anemone, Anemone nemorosa

ivy

Who does not know him, the evergreen, climbing ivy. It is also one of the poisonous plants. With its clinging roots, it can crawl along the ground and climb living or dead trees, fences, and walls. Depending on the variety, the fingered leaves can be completely green or multicolored or lightly variegated. Ivy does not flower until the eighth year at the earliest, around September/October. Evergreen ivy is very tempting to horses, especially in winter when there is little greenery. However, it is poisonous in all parts of the plant, especially the flowers.

Ivy, Hedera helix

Plants from K to L

poppy

Corn poppies thrive in meadows, pastures, embankments and along roadsides. Its distinctive scarlet flowers are most commonly seen, although there are also cultivars with white and yellow flowers. The delicate sepals can easily fall off when touched. The entire plant is toxic to horses, with the milky sap in the plant being the most toxic. The toxicity also remains in the dried corn poppy.

Corn poppy, Papaver rhoeas

lupine

The lupine is pretty to look at with its 30 - 50 cm long, candle-shaped, blue, yellow, white or pink flower clusters. It grows wild on embankments and forest edges or as a cultivated form in the home garden. Its leaves are green and finger-shaped with 5 - 12 lanceolate leaflets. Flowering time is from May/June to August/September. Although all parts of the plant contain toxic substances, the highest concentration of poison is in the seeds.

Lupins, Lupinus

Weak poisonous plants

Plants from B to M

barberry

  • Barberry rarely found growing wild
  • mainly in bushes and light deciduous forests
  • grows as a 100 - 250 m tall shrub with small, yellow, fragrant flowers
  • Flowers hang in small clusters on rod-like branches
  • Twigs covered with thorns
  • Flowering period from May to June
  • after flowering, the red, elongated berries ripen
  • Leaves are small, mostly oblong, ovate
  • Foliage fresh green at first
  • gradually turns bright red in colour
  • Bark is light gray and the wood is strikingly yellow
  • toxic substances in all parts of the plant
  • Stem bark and root most poisonous
  • Blossoms, berries and seeds should not contain any toxins
Barberry, Berberis vulgaris

Comfrey

Comfrey is mainly found in the flower strips of pastures, on damp meadows, on the edges of forests, ditches, riverbanks and streams. The aerial parts of this poisonous plant, which is between 60 and 110 cm high, are hairy. The bell-shaped, red-purple, red or white flowers appear from May to July. They sit in small clusters on long stems. Although comfrey was previously considered a medicinal plant for humans, it has recently been suspected of being carcinogenic. For grazing animals such as cattle and horses, the whole plant is considered poisonous, albeit only slightly.

Blue Comfrey, Symphytum azureum

March mug

The March cup is also one of the poisonous plants. It thrives in moist deciduous forests, alluvial forests and meadows and flowers from around February to April. The white, fragrant flowers, in contrast to snowdrops, form an almost closed bell with a yellow-green spot on the tips of the petals. March cups are 20 - 30 cm high. They contain the same toxins as daffodils, but in a weaker form. The highest concentration of poison is in the onion.

March cup, Leucojum vernum

First Aid Measures

Quick help in case of poisoning

Despite all care, poisoning can always occur. If poisoning is suspected, horse owners should act immediately.

  • contact a veterinarian as soon as possible
  • until it arrives, prevent the animal from eating more poisonous plants
  • for example by means of an appropriate muzzle
  • as the keeper, secure suspicious plants and present them to the doctor
  • give the animal the opportunity to drink
  • contact the poison control center if necessary

The more precise and detailed the information provided by the owner, the quicker and more effective the treatment can usually be.

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