Pokeweed toxicity

Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.

Pokeweed Toxicity

Pokeweed Poisoning

Pokeweed (Phytolacca american) is a large semi-succulent herbaceous perennial plant which is native to North America. P. american has a large white taproot, green or red stems, and large, simple leaves. The stem is often red as the plant matures.
There is an upright, erect central stem early in the season, which changes to a spreading, horizontal form later in the season with the weight of the berries.

Toxic components
P. american contains several toxins, which include saponins, jaligonic acid, phytolaccagenic acid (phytolaccinic acid), esculentic acid, and pokeberrygenin.


Excessive salivation


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Necropsy



Supportive therapy


  • Make yourself aware of the weeds and plant species that can be invasive in pastures and/or poisonous to horses.
  • Take periodic walks around pastures to check for the presence of potentially poisonous plants
  • Check that hay does not contain dried up poisonous plants
  • If you borrow or hire farm machinery ensure it is clean prior to arriving on your property, the same goes for lending of your own equipment.
  • Quarantine new animals in a separate paddock the first 10 days to 2 weeks after arrival. Weed seeds can be passed through an animal's digestive tract.

Scientific Research

General Overviews

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Risk Factors

  • Allowing pokeweed to grow in horse pastures