toxic plants for animalsWith spring gardening season around many gardeners must be planning and working out with their landscapes, home gardens, and farms. Generally the landscape plant choices are based on aesthetics and hardiness. However, you should never neglect the plant toxicity. Even if owners plant trees, shrubs, and flowers well out of pastured or stalled horses’ reach, the animals could still be exposed. Strong winds, storms, and flooding, for instance, can carry branches and other plant materials into pastures. Horses also can escape from confinement and gain access to areas normally out of reach. Garden workers might discard plant trimmings in pastures, unaware of how toxic some can be.

Trees to avoid are red maple and other maples, wild cherry, black walnut, black locust, oak, Kentucky coffee tree, buckeye, golden chain tree, mimosa, persimmon, chinaberry, tung nut, and cycad palms.

Shrubs to avoid include: Japanese or other yew (Taxus) bushes, privet, common box, elderberry, Carolina allspice, choke cherry, serviceberry, buckthorn, fetterbush, laurel, and day-blooming Jessamine. Taxus bushes are especially toxic and ingestion of discarded Taxus hedge trimmings is a common cause of death in horses.

Flowering garden plants to avoid include: Delphinium, lily of the valley, foxglove, rhododendron and azaleas, lobelia, sweet pea, castor beans, bulbs such as autumn crocus, lilies, iris, hyacinth, amaryllis, and daffodils; poppies, morning glory, bleeding hearts, pieris, lantana, lobelia, ground cherry, angel’s trumpet, periwinkle, monkshood, harebell, hibiscus, clematis, star-of-Bethlehem, bracken fern, rosary pea, baneberry, pheasant’s eye, Lords and Ladies, begonia, butterfly weed and other showy milkweeds, yesterday today and tomorrow, caladium, diffenbachia and philodendron species, moonflower and other Datura species, sesbania, honeysuckle, may apple, and blue indigo.

Vegetable and crop plants can also be toxic to horses and other animals if accidental exposure occurs. Crop gardens should be well-fenced to prevent animal access. Garden crop plants that can be toxic include onions, chives, garlic, shallots, rhubarb, turnips, potatoes and tomatoes (leaves and green fruits), tobacco, and avocados.

Many weeds are toxic to horses and other animals. Garden weeds can pose a risk to horses if discarded into pastures. Some mulches also can pose risks to animals; avoid black walnut mulches and cocoa hull mulches in particular. Additionally, discuss risks of toxic plant exposure with neighboring property owners so they do not unintentionally poison your horses by discarding garden trimmings into your horse pastures.

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