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Fiddleneck is harmful to horses as well as other animals

Image of Fiddleneck

Fiddleneck (Amsinckia menziesii or Amsinchkia intermerdia) is a flowering plant which has gently curling top like that of a fern. They are poisonous plants which have spread widely through regions over the years. They are annual plants with yellow or orange flowers. Stems are single or branched with dark to grayish green hairy leaves. The seeds are considered the most toxic part of this plant.

Harmful to horses as well as other animals

When it comes to poisonous plants and pets the Fiddlenecks are thought to be harmful to horses as well as other animals. If we humans have the occasion to be scratched by one, there can be some skin irritations to us folks as well.

Fiddleneck and related plants of the amsinckia species have been linked to causing cirrhosis of the liver in horses. These plants include fiddleneck, tarweed, yellow burr weed, fireweed and buckthorn, which are predominantly found in the semi-arid regions of Idaho, Washington, Oregon and California. The plants appear in late winter and early spring. The seeds are the most toxic parts of these plants and fortunately the mature plants are unpalatable to most horses.

Most instances of poisoning occur when mature amsinckia species are bailed in early cuttings of hay or when contaminated grain was threshed for horses. Some poisonings have occurred when horses were pastured on wheat stubble in contaminated fields.

Poisonous effects

Compounds in the form of alkaloids are changed in the liver to substances which cause cell damage to death. Damage can be made through the ingestion of large amounts of these compounds to a little at a time where damage may not be observed until there is significant internal damage. When a horse’s liver is poisoned, you may see behavioral changes such as depression, wondering, sunburn of the pink skinned areas, weight loss, bleeding, and jaundice of your equine companion.

Some populations consider the fiddleneck to be a delicacy. Eating the seeds, shoots or leaves, this plant has been used for food or medicine.However, when it comes to poisonous plants and pets the Fiddlenecks are not as good a cuisine.