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by James W. Hardin, Cecil F. Brownie, Alexander Krings, LD, and E. Scott Niven.*


From the Atlantic Coast to the mountaintops of North Carolina, annual livestock losses from poisonous plants are fairly high.  Livestock poisoning is not an insurmountable problem; with an increased knowledge of the poisonous plants of North Carolina, deaths can largely be prevented.  And while poisoning of small companion animals by plants is relatively infrequent, dogs, cats, and caged birds sometimes consume plant materials that can cause severe symptoms or death.  Such accidents can be prevented by realizing the potential dangers around the home and taking the necessary precautions.  It was with these thoughts in mind that this manual was prepared.


Preface to the online bulletin

This site is an online version of NC ARS Bulletin No. 414 (revised) by J.W. Hardin and C.F. Brownie.  It was developed through a collaboration between researchers and programmers from the Herbarium of the Department of Botany, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Academic and Administrative Technology group (CAAT), the College of Veterinary Medicine, and the NC Agricultural Research Service.  The original text of Hardin and Brownie's work has been kept in its entirety.  In places, it has been somewhat re-arranged to fit an online format.  We offer the online version to increase availability of this important work and to facilitate its use (e.g., through hyperlinking of glossary terms, etc.).  In order to keep the manual current, information will be updated from time to time and new species added when appropriate.

Original preface

Dr. Hardin's original study of the poisonous plants of North Carolina was conducted as an approved project supported by the Agricultural Experiment Station of North Carolina State University at Raleigh during the late 1950s.  Results of that study were published in 1961 as Bulletin No. 414, "Poisonous Plants of North Carolina."  Records have been maintained continuously since then to keep the information up to date.  This revision, "Plants Poisonous to Livestock and Pets in North Carolina," has been expanded and updated where necessary and now includes information about small companion animals (pets.)

A manual based on an intensive study of the plants of a limited area, such as a state, offers two advantages.  First, it provides a better knowledge of the distributions and habitats within the state.  Second, it makes it easier to identify a suspected plant by eliminating numerous species that are not found in the area.

Descriptions and illustrations of the plants, and data on habitats have come from Hardin's notes and photographs accumulated over many years.  Several figures have been borrowed from other state publications as indicated in the captions.  Distribution maps have been revised as needed from those published in North Carolina Experiment Station Technical Bulletin No. 165, 1965.

Information on the poisonous principle, observed clinical signs in animals, necropsy, and treatments has been compiled from various veterinarians in the area plus the literature.  Of particular note here are the writings of Professor John M. Kingsbury in the 1960s and others more recently (see Bibliography).  Dr. Brownie's collaboration on this revision brings current and critically needed toxicological information.

In a compilation such as this, numerous bits of information are gleaned from various specialists, county extension agents, and livestock owners, who are too numerous to name individually.  Their advice and information, however, is gratefully acknowledged.

This bulletin is concerned mainly with livestock and pets in North Carolina, although plants of neighboring states are the same in most cases.  Similar information specific to nearby states may be found in the literature.  For information on human poisoning see: Blackwell (1990), Hardin and Arena (1974), Lampe and McCann (1985), or Westbrooks and Preacher (1986).


*Suggested citation:  Hardin, J.W., C.F. Brownie, A. Krings, L. D, and E.S. Niven.  2003.  Plants poisonous to livestock and pets in North Carolina.   [].  NC State University, Raleigh, NC.