Buckwheat (Common name)

General Poisoning Notes:

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is cultivated in Canada as a crop for fodder and for the production of buckwheat honey. Ingesting entire plants, dried or fresh, has caused photosensitization in animals with exposed or light-colored skin including cattle, goats, sheep, swine, and turkeys. Exposure to the sun is necessary. This plant is considered to be a primary photosensitizer, although jaundice has occurred concurrently, which indicates secondary involvement of the liver (Cooper and Johnson 1984, Cheeke and Schull 1985). Buckwheat has been found to be an effective replacement for wheat or barley in rations for swine (Anderson and Bowland 1981). Closely related tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum L.) is also a satisfactory grain replacement in ruminant animals (Nicholson et al. 1976).

Humans can be sensitized to dust from buckwheat flour after long exposure. Asthma is the usual response, although rare individuals may manifest food allergy reactions after ingesting food products containing buckwheat flour. Although to date there have been no peer-reviewed scientific studies which document photosensitization in humans, there have been anecdotal reports of symptoms occuring in humans after the consumption of large quantities of raw buckwheat greens (i.e. the leaves and/or flowers) for their nutritional and antioxidant properties.

References:

  • Anderson, D. M., Bowland, J. P. 1981. Evaluation of buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) in diets of growing pigs. Proc. Am. Soc. Anim. Sci. West. Br., 32: 422-425.
  • Blumstein, G. I. 1936. Buckwheat sensitivity. J. Allergy, 7: 74-79.
  • Cheeke, P. R., Shull, L. R. 1985. Natural toxicants in feeds and poisonous plants. AVI Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, Conn., USA. 492 pp.
  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Nicholson, J. W., McQueen, R., Grant, E. A., Burgess, P. L. 1976. The feeding value of tartary buckwheat for ruminants. Can. J. Anim. Sci., 56: 803-808.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Fagopyrum esculentum Moench
Vernacular name(s):
buckwheat
Scientific family name:
Polygonaceae
Vernacular family name:
knotweed

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Fagopyrum esculentum

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada, Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/ Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

Plant or plant parts used in or around the home.

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or Illustration

Images: Buckwheat - Google search

Notes on Poisonous Plant Parts:

Little fagopyrin occurs in the seeds, but ingesting the entire plant, either green or dried, can cause serious photosensitization in livestock (Johnson 1989).

Toxic Parts:

  • all parts
  • leaves
  • seeds
  • stems

References:

  • Johnson, A. E. 1983. Photosensitizing toxins from plants and their biologic effects. Pages 345-359 in Keeler, R. F., Tu, A. T., eds. Handbook of natural toxins. Vol. 1. Plant and Fungal toxins. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., USA. 934 pp.

Notes on Toxic Plant Chemicals:

Fagopyrin, probably a derivative of naphthodianthrone, is closely related to hypericin, which is found in St. John's-wort (Hypericum perforatum). The absorption spectra of these chemicals is in the range of 540-610 nm (Johnson 1983).

Toxic Plant Chemicals:

  • fagopyrin

References:

  • Johnson, A. E. 1983. Photosensitizing toxins from plants and their biologic effects. Pages 345-359 in Keeler, R. F., Tu, A. T., eds. Handbook of natural toxins. Vol. 1. Plant and Fungal toxins. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York, N.Y., USA. 934 pp.

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:

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Goats

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Humans

Sheep

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Swine

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Turkeys

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

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