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 How poisonous is wisteria?
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73 Posts

Posted - 02/17/2009 :  7:54:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
We have a majestic wisteria growing along the property line and it's been there forever with amazing blooms in the spring. The sheep have been eating the leaves for years and doing fine. Now that we also have alpacas I'm reviewing the poison plant list, and wisteria is on the list! Some guides say it's just the seed pods which are poisonous, and other guides also say that the leaves are toxic too (but hard to imagine because the sheep love to devour the leaves).

What's missing on just about all of these poison plant lists is the relative level of toxicity of different plants. For example oleander is deadly in small amounts but the animals hate the taste of milkweed so I'm not worried if there is a little bit of milkweed as long as they have plenty of alternative forage.

So just how toxic is wisteria to alpacas? Should I get out there with the weed killer or is it nothing to worry about?


4245 Posts

Posted - 02/17/2009 :  8:07:44 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
There are generally 4 levels of toxicity listed:
1. Major Toxicity
These plants may cause serious illness or death. If ingested, immediately call Poison Control or a doctor (veterinarian).

2. Minor Toxicity
Ingestion of these plants may cause minor illnesses such as vomiting or diarrhea. If ingested, call Poison Control or a doctor (veterinarian).

3. Oxalates
The juice or sap of these plants contains oxalate crystals. These needle-shaped crystals can irritate the skin, mouth, tongue, and throat, resulting in throat swelling, breathing difficulties, burning pain, and stomach upset. Call Poison Control or a doctor (veterinarian) if any of these symptoms appear following ingestion of plants.

4. Dermatitis
The juice, sap, or thorns of these plants may cause a skin rash or irritation. Wash the affected area of skin with soap and water as soon as possible after contact. The rashes may be very serious and painful. Call Poison Control or your doctor (veterinarian) if symptoms appear following contact with the plants.

Wisteria is listed as a 2, not something I personally would be concerned about.

Rick & Pati Horn
All American Alpacas
35215 Avenida Maņana
Murrieta, Ca. 92563
Life is Good!
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73 Posts

Posted - 02/17/2009 :  8:24:43 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Rick, that is good to know. Anyone come across a good poison plant list that has these toxicity levels? The lists that I always come across just mentionining plant names are not of much use, without more detailed toxic dose/medical effects. Maybe a book on the subject? Searching the web I found this interesting case:

A 50 year-old female ingested 10 seeds from the pods of the Wisteria plant due to curiosity and the perception that they were edible beans. Subsequent toxic effects included headache, gastroenteritis, hematemesis, dizziness, confusion, diaphoresis, and a syncopal episode. She continued to feel tired and complained of being dizzy 5 to 7 days after the ingestion. Despite the abundant references in the literature supporting the toxicity of this plant and the cases cited by Lampe and McCann (1), a literature search identified only one additional case report involving two youths in Italy who ingested at least 5-6 seeds each (2). The three events were sufficiently similar in the onset of the gastrointestinal symptoms and the effects on the central nervous system as to characterize a Wisteria syndrome.
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