Autumn crocus-Colchicum autumnale L.-Poisonous plant

Autumn crocus

General poisoning notes:

Autumn crocus (Colchium autumnale) is an outdoor ornamental grown for its autumn flowers. The plant is poisonous to all animals and to humans. Livestock have been poisoned in Europe and Asia, where the plants are native. Poisoning has been reported in cattle, goats horses, sheep, and swine, as well as in humans and dogs. The toxic chemical colchicine can be excreted through the milk of lactating animals, thereby poisoning young animals and humans. Cattle and, to a lesser extent, goats and sheep can develop complete resistance to colchicine (Cooper and Johnson 1984). This plant is found only in garden cultivation or maybe as a houseplant in Canada. Children and family pets are therefore most at risk from ingesting autumn crocus.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name: Colchicum autumnale L.
Vernacular name(s): autumn crocus
Scientific family name: Liliaceae
Vernacular family name: lily

Geographic Information

Plant or plant parts used in or around the home.

Toxic parts:

All parts

General poisoning notes:

Autumn crocus (Colchium autumnale) is an outdoor ornamental grown for its autumn flowers. The plant is poisonous to all animals and to humans. Livestock have been poisoned in Europe and Asia, where the plants are native. Poisoning has been reported in cattle, goats horses, sheep, and swine, as well as in humans and dogs. The toxic chemical colchicine can be excreted through the milk of lactating animals, thereby poisoning young animals and humans. Cattle and, to a lesser extent, goats and sheep can develop complete resistance to colchicine (Cooper and Johnson 1984). This plant is found only in garden cultivation or maybe as a houseplant in Canada. Children and family pets are therefore most at risk from ingesting autumn crocus.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name: Colchicum autumnale L.
Vernacular name(s): autumn crocus
Scientific family name: Liliaceae
Vernacular family name: lily

Geographic Information

Plant or plant parts used in or around the home.

Toxic parts:

All parts

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

Colchicine is more toxic than colchiceine. These chemicals withstand drying, storage, and boiling without losing their toxic qualities. Colchicine affects the central nervous system, paralyzing nerve endings and blocking neuromuscular connections.
All parts of the plant are poisonous:
  • 0.03-0.06% colchicine in the corm (bulb)
  • 0.02-0.04% colchicine in the seeds
Ingesting fresh leaves in the following quantities results in death (Cooper and Johnson 1984):

8-16 g/kg of body weight
cattle
6.4 g/kg body weight
lambs (2-3 months old)
12 g/kg body weight
guinea pigs (adult)

Toxic plant chemicals:

colchiceine
colchicine

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Cattle

General symptoms of poisoning:

Abdominal pains, collapse, death by asphyxiation, depression, diarrhea, incoordination, teeth grinding.

Dogs

Goats

Horses

General symptoms of poisoning:

Collapse

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

Abdominal pains, colic, collapse, diarrhea, hemoglobinuria, mouth, irritation of nausea, thirsty, vomitingNotes on poisoning:
Humans and other animals exhibit similar symptoms of colchicine poisoning. Symptoms develop 2-7 h after ingestion. Recovery is slow and relapse may occur, resulting in paralysis, respiratory or heart failure, and death. Temporary hair loss may occur (Cooper and Johnson 1984, Hill and Duke 1986).

Sheep

General symptoms of poisoning:

Collapse, depression, diarrhea, salivation

Swine

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