Colchicum autumnale (Scientific name)

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.

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.
  • Hill, S. R., Duke, P. K. 1986. 100 poisonous plants of Maryland. Univ. MD. Coop. Ext. Serv. Bull., 314. 55 pp.
  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.
  • Spoerke, D. G., Smolinske, S. C. 1990. Toxicity of houseplants. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 335 pp.

Nomenclature:

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

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Colchicum autumnale

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: Colchicum autumnale - Google Search

Toxic parts:

  • All parts

References:

  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.

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):

  • Cattle: 8-16 g/kg of body weight
  • Lambs (2-3 months old): 6.4 g/kg body weight
  • Guinea pigs (adult): 12 g/kg body weight

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • Colchiceine
  • Colchicine

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.

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.

Dogs

Goats

Horses

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

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes 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).

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.
  • Hill, S. R., Duke, P. K. 1986. 100 poisonous plants of Maryland. Univ. MD. Coop. Ext. Serv. Bull., 314. 55 pp.
  • Lampe, K. F., McCann, M. A. 1985. AMA Handbook of poisonous and injurious plants. American Medical Assoc. Chicago, Ill., USA. 432 pp.

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

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