Hellebore: Poisonous Plant Of The Month

Learn more about Hellebore, why it is poisonous and the symptoms to look out for in cattle.

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There are several species of the Helleborus genus; Christmas rose, stinking hellebore and purple, all of which are poisonous to mammals. Part of the buttercup family, they flower shortly after Christmas, and the flowers are creamy white tinged with green.

Hellebores contain three active ingredients: glycosides, which can cause bradycardia (slowing of the heart); saponin, acting on the nervous system causing narcosis; and helleborine, a purgative found in the roots of the plant.

Signs Of Hellebore Poisoning

The clinical signs seen in cattle include:

  • Inappetence
  • Vomiting
  • Slow heart rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coma
  • Death

Milk from affected animals will cause vomiting and diarrhoea in people.

These plants can grow in pastures, grassland and gardens. Historically the roots were used to make people vomit to treat poisonings, although this is now known to be harmful!

Out of hours emergency

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