Wicked Weeds

There are many plants that freely grow in pastures and surrounding lands that can be mildly toxic to deadly if ingested by your horse. The list varies by location, but here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, there is a basic list of at least ten plants that you should be on the lookout for.

  1. Bracken fern
  2. Hemlock
  3. Tansy ragwort
  4. Johnsongrass
  5. Locoweed
  6. Oleander
  7. Red maple trees
  8. Water hemlock
  9. Yellow star thistle
  10.   Yew

Each plant carries unique properties, chemicals or toxins that can have serious to deadly affects, depending on how much is consumed, stage of plant development, or a mere nibble as with Yew, which is instantly deadly and has no antidote. Queen Ann’s Lace, or wild carrot, has been reported in Europe to be of mild neurotoxicity but is considered a low risk in North America.

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace
Photo Couresy of gb_packards’ photostream on Flickr.com

The best defense is a good offense. Walk your property with a color picture identification guide and note any members of the list. Take the appropriate measures to rid your pastureland of these dangerous plants and ensure that your beloved horses stay healthy and safe while roaming your acreage.

Always know your hay sources. These plants can grow in hay fields and be cut and bundled along with the feed where they will be equally poisonous if eaten by your animals. Specifically ask your grower if the fields have been inspected for poisonous weeds prior to harvest.

When your horses have a good diet and plenty of water, they will be less likely to explore marginal pasture plants in an effort to satisfy their hunger. You have invested time, money and your heart in your animals. Insure their longevity by using easily obtained knowledge of poisonous weeds and ridding them from your property. Here is a series of links to sources to get you started.


If you do not currently own horse property in Oregon, let’s see if we can find one for you!




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