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Volume 60—1980

{Page 54}


Margaret W. Hamilton

Biology Department, Central State University, Edmond, OK 73034


This paper lists vascular plants native to or naturalized in Oklahoma that have been cited in the literature as being lethal, causing distress, or potentially dangerous to humans and domesticated herbivorous animals. The term "poisonous" is used in the Websterian sense, meaning any "substance that through its chemical action sometimes kills, injures, or impairs an organism". Those plants which most often cause mechanical injury to livestock are also included. Aeroallergenic plants are not included although they are the cause of much human distress. Common cultivated field plants have been included although often they are not included in published floras. Non-native horticultural plants, with the exception of Ricinus communis, have not been included. Information on toxicity is from Kingsbury (1) unless otherwise noted. Waterfall (2) is the nomenclatural source and also the authority on occurrence in Oklahoma except as noted, and common name source is Holstun (3).

Any listing, such as this and that of Kingsbury, which is based primarily on literature sources rather than personal experimentation will, by its very nature, surely be incomplete. Much more work will be required to validate or disprove the toxicity of some species which are included on slender evidence.

A considerable list of Oklahoma and Texas plants known to be toxic or potentially so because they can produce cyanogenic compounds has been compiled by Seigler (4). A smaller list of aquatic plants reported to be poisonous to livestock is given by Taylor (5); his list contains fourteen species not described in this paper, but gives no information on toxins or references to original literature reporting the toxicity.


1.   J. M. KINGSBURY, Poisonous Plants of the United States and Canada, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N. J., 1964.

2.   U. T. WATERFALL, Keys to the Flora of Oklahoma, ed. 5, Research Foundation, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, 1972.

3.   J. T. HOLSTUN, JR., J. Weed Sci. Soc. Am. 19: 435-476 (1971).

4.   D. S. SEIGLER, Proc. Okla. Acad. Sci. 56: 95-100 (1976).

5.   J. TAYLOR, A Catalog of Vascular Aquatic and Wetland Plants That Grow in Oklahoma, Pub. #1, Herbarium, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, 1977, Appendix 4.

6.   L. C. HULBERT and F. W. OEHME, Plants Poisonous to Livestock in the United States and Canada, ed. 2, Kansas State University Press, 1963.

7.   J. W. HARDIN and J. M. ARENA, Human Poisoning from Native and Cultivated Plants, ed. 2, Duke University Press, Durham, N. C., 1974.

8.   J. A. DUKE, CRC Crit. Rev. Toxicol. 5: 189-237 (1977).

9.   D. R. CORDY, in R. F. KEELER, K. R. VAN KAMPEN, and L. F. JAMES (eds.), Effects of Poisonous Plants in Livestock, Academic Press, New York, 1978, pp. 327-336.

10.   W. H. LEWIS and M. P. F. ELVIN-LEWIS, Medical Botany, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1977.

11.   G. R. WALLER and E. K. NOWACKI, Alkaloid Biology and Metabolism in Plants, Plenum Press, New York, 1978, p. 117.

12.   W. HERZ, in R. F. KEELER, K. R. VAN KAMPEN, and L. F. JAMES (eds.), Effects of Poisonous Plants in Livestock, Academic Press, New York, 1978, pp. 487-497.

13.   B. J. WILSON, J. E. GARST, R. D. LINNABARY, and A. R. DOSTER, in R. F. KEELER, K. R. VAN KAMPEN, and L. F. JAMES (eds.), Effects of Poisonous Plants in Livestock, Academic Press, New York, 1978, pp. 311-323.

14.   W. C. MUENSCHER, Poisonous Plants of the United States, MacMillan Co., New York, 1951.

15.   G. J. GOODMAN, Spring Flora of Central Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma Duplicating Service, Norman, OK, 1958.

16.   K. F. LAMPE, Plant Dermatitis, New York Botanical Garden, 1979.

{Pages 55-62}

{Pages 55-62 consist entirely of the list of vascular plants.}