Jimsonweed – a poisonous plant that may be found in or around your horse pasture

Good pasture management practices and skill in identifying poisonous plants are important measures to prevent plant poisonings of your horse.

Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) is a large summer annual that emerges May through mid-June. Photo by Tom Guthrie, Michigan State University Extension

Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) is a large summer annual that emerges May through mid-June. Photo by Tom Guthrie, Michigan State University Extension

The danger of poisonous plants depends on the plant’s prevalence, toxicity and palatability. Generally speaking, horses will avoid consuming most toxic plants if other forage is available. However, the risks of plant poisoning still exists if toxic plants are present. Good pasture management practices and honing your skills to be able to identify poisonous plants are important measures to prevent plant poisonings of your horse.

Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium) is a large summer annual (up to 5 feet tall) that typically emerges May through mid-June. Other common names include Jamestown weed, thorn apple, downy thornapple, devil’s trumpet, angel’s trumpet, mad apple and stinkwort.

Jimson Weed
Jimsonweed can be recognized by its distinctive tree -like shape, white to purple trumpet or funnel shaped flowers that are produced starting in June and prickly seed capsules. Photo Source: Tom Guthrie, Michigan State University Extension

 Jimsonweed has long been known to be toxic all classes of livestock and to humans as well. Horses rarely consume Jimsonweed if other forage is available because of its foul odor and taste. All parts of the Jimsonweed plant are poisonous in which toxicity is caused by tropane alkaloids.

 Symptoms of poisoning in horses may occur within minutes to several hours and may include: seeking water to drink, dilated pupils, agitation, increased heart rate, trembling, convulsions, coma and possibly death.

 Methods for controlling Jimsonweed can range from mechanical to chemical. For chemical control options you may refer to the 2014 Michigan State University Extension Weed Control Guide for Field Crops, Table 4B – Weed Response to Herbicides in Established Forage Grasses. It is important to remember that if you choose to use a herbicide for control method, be sure to carefully read the label for grazing restrictions that may apply.

 Additional resources:

Toxic plants of concern in pastures and hay for Michigan horses

MSU Weed Science

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