Additional Common Names: Patterson's Curse
Scientific Name: Echium plantagineum
Toxicity: Toxic to Horses
Toxic Principles: Pyrrolizidine alkaloids
Clinical Signs: The plant is not very palatable, but will be eaten by animals with no other forage; poisonings typically occur from ingestion of green plant material or material in hay. The toxic components can cause liver failure, referred to as "walking disease" or "sleepy staggers". Signs include weight loss, weakness, sleepiness, yawning, incoordination, yellowish discoloration to mucous membranes (icterus), neurologic problems secondary to liver failure (aimless walking, chewing motions, head pressing). Animals may appear to be normal at first, then become suddenly affected; the syndrome progresses rapidly over a few days to a week.
Credit: Utah State University Extension
If you suspect your pet may have ingested a potentially toxic substance, call the APCC at (888) 426-4435 or contact your local veterinarian as soon as possible.*
* A consultation fee may apply.