Amelanchier alnifolia (Scientific name)

General poisoning notes:

Saskatoon, a serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), is a shrub native to western Canada. The shrub has an hydrogen cyanide (HCN) potential high enough to kill cattle and mule deer. Mule deer that ingested 1 kg of fresh weight per day were poisoned and died within 24 h of the appearance of clinical signs. Experiments with cattle also showed the poisoning potential (Majak et al. 1978, Majak et al. 1980).

References:

  • Majak, W., Bose, R. J., Quinton, D. A. 1978. Prunasin, the cyanogenic glycoside in Amelanchier alnifolia. Phytochemistry (Oxf.), 17: 803.
  • Majak, W., Udenberg, T., Clark, L. J., McLean, A. 1980. Toxicity of Saskatoon serviceberry to cattle. Can. Vet. J., 21: 74-76.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Amelanchier alnifolia Nutt.
Vernacular name(s):
Saskatoon (a serviceberry)
Scientific family name:
Rosaceae
Vernacular family name:
rose

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Amelanchier alnifolia

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

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • Northwest Territories
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon Territory

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: Amelanchier alnifolia - Google Search

Notes on Poisonous plant parts:

Saskatoon contains a large quantity of prunasin, which has a hydrogen cyanide (HCN) potential exceeding the level required to cause of poisoning in cattle. HCN occurs in the twigs before the leaves appear and during the bloom period. The level of HCN potential is highest in new-growth twigs, especially during dry years (Majak et al. 1981).

Toxic parts:

  • flower buds
  • leaves
  • seeds
  • twigs
  • young shoots

References:

  • Majak, W., Bose, R. J., Quinton, D. A. 1978. Prunasin, the cyanogenic glycoside in Amelanchier alnifolia. Phytochemistry (Oxf.), 17: 803.
  • Majak, W., McDiarmid, R. E., Hall, J. W. 1981. The cyanide potential of Saskatoon serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) and chokecherry (Prunus virginiana). Can. J. Anim. Sci., 61: 681-686.
  • Majak, W., Quinton, D. A., Broersma, K. 1980. Cyanogenic glycoside levels in Saskatoon serviceberry. J. Range Manage., 33: 197-199.
  • Majak, W., Udenberg, T., Clark, L. J., McLean, A. 1980. Toxicity of Saskatoon serviceberry to cattle. Can. Vet. J., 21: 74-76.

Toxic plant chemicals:

prunasin

References:

  • Majak, W., Bose, R. J., Quinton, D. A. 1978. Prunasin, the cyanogenic glycoside in Amelanchier alnifolia. Phytochemistry (Oxf.), 17: 803.
  • Majak, W., Quinton, D. A., Broersma, K. 1980. Cyanogenic glycoside levels in Saskatoon serviceberry. J. Range Manage., 33: 197-199.
  • Majak, W., Udenberg, T., Clark, L. J., McLean, A. 1980. Toxicity of Saskatoon serviceberry to cattle. Can. Vet. J., 21: 74-76.

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:

Notes on poisoning

Hydrogen cyanide (HCN) poisoning was experimentally induced in cattle. The experiment showed that a single dose of the browse with 1.43% prunasin can be lethal to cattle. Peak cyanide levels occurred in the blood 1-2 h after ingestion. The rumen had a distinct almond smell (Majak et al. 1980).

References:

  • Majak, W., Udenberg, T., Clark, L. J., McLean, A. 1980. Toxicity of Saskatoon serviceberry to cattle. Can. Vet. J., 21: 74-76.

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