Solanum tuberosum (Scientific name)

General Poisoning Notes:

Potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a common introduced garden plant cultivated for its edible tubers. The entire plant contains toxic glycoalkaloids but usually in harmless quantities in the edible tubers. However, in the presence of light, the tubers photosynthesize and coincidentally increase the amount of toxins. The skin, eyes, and sprouts of the tubers can develop toxic amounts. Even the flesh of the tuber can develop toxic quantities of the glycoalkaloids. Cattle, sheep, and swine as well as humans were poisoned and died after ingesting parts of potato plant. Other animals have also been poisoned experimentally. A dog became comatose after ingesting green potato tubers. The aboveground plant portion can also be toxic. The berries produced by the plant can contain 10-20 times more glycoalkaloids than the tubers (Cooper and Johnson 1984). The glycoalkaloids solanine and chaconine are not destroyed by normal cooking. Alkaloidal levels above 20 mg/100 g are considered unsafe for human consumption. Some cultivars have naturally high concentrations of alkaloids and have been rejected for use. Care should be taken to store potatoes in light-proof paper bags. If any green-colored potatoes are found, they should be discarded. Potato peelings and sprouts destined for a compost heap should be buried and kept from dogs or other animals. Sharma and Salunkhe (1989) provide an excellent review of potatoes and toxins and their effects on animals.

References:

  • Clay, B. R., Edwards, W. C., Peterson, D. R. 1976. Toxic nitrate accumulation in the sorghums. Bovine Pract., 11: 28-32.
  • 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.
  • Keeler, R. F., Baker, D. C., Gaffield, W. 1990. Spirosolane-containing Solanum species and induction of congenital craniofacial malformations. Toxicon, 28: 873-884.
  • McMillan, M., Thompson, J. C. 1979. An outbreak of suspected solanine poisoning in schoolboys: examination of criteria of solanine poisoning. Q. J. Med., 48: 227-243.
  • Sharma, R. P., Salunkhe, D. K. 1989. Solanum glycoalkaloids. Pages 179-236 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. I. Alkaloids. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 335 pp.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Solanum tuberosum L.
Vernacular name(s):
potato
Scientific family name:
Solanaceae
Vernacular family name:
nightshade

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Solanum tuberosum

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: Solanum Tuberosum - Recherche Google

Notes on Poisonous Plant Parts:

Potato tubers can develop toxic levels of glycoalkaloids if they are exposed to sunlight. The development of the toxins coincides with the production of chlorophyll in the presence of light. The toxins are highest in the skin, eyes, and sprouts. In a test on rats fed 10% sprouts from early pregnancy, 55% of litters died because of failure to lactate. Potato cultivars, such as 'Lenape' have been developed with natural toxic levels of alkaloids in the tubers; these cultivars have not been released for use. The leaves, stems, and berries of potato also contain toxic substances. The concentration of alkaloids in the berries may be 10-20 times that of the tubers (Butterworth and Pelling 1980, Cooper and Johnson 1984, Cheeke and Schull 1985, Salunkhe 1989).

Toxic parts:

  • immature fruit
  • leaves
  • stems
  • tubers

References:

  • Butterworth, K. R., Pelling, D. 1980. Are potato 'apples' toxic? J. Pharm. Pharmocol., 32: 79 P.
  • 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.

Notes on Toxic Plant Chemicals:

Two glycoalkaloids, alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine, are the major alkaloids in potatoes. The major effects are gastrointestinal tract irritation and nervous system impairment. Exposing the potato tubers to light may increase the concentration of glycoalkaloids to 0.05% in the tuber instead of the usual 0.008%. Potatoes are now screened for toxin levels, which must be below 20 mg/100 g. Levels above 14 mg/100 g are bitter. One variety developed in the 1960s, 'Lenape', had levels over 30 mg/100 g and was rejected. Berries of potatoes have also been tested and an LD-50 of 677 g/kg was found in mice. It has been estimated that ingesting 400 g of potato berries would be required to induce symptoms in humans (Butterworth and Pelling 1980, Filadelfi 1982; Cooper and Johnson 1984, Sharma and Salunkhe 1989).

Toxic Plant Chemicals:

  • chaconine
  • solanine

References:

  • Butterworth, K. R., Pelling, D. 1980. Are potato 'apples' toxic? J. Pharm. Pharmocol., 32: 79 P.
  • 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.
  • Filadelfi, M. A. 1982. Naturally occurring toxicants in the potato. Herbarist, 48: 21-23.

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:

Cattle were poisoning after they were given access to green, decayed, or sprouting potatoes. In Europe, feeding large quantities of stored potatoes to young cattle over long periods is recognised as causing severe anemia (Cooper and Johnson 1984).

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

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:

Ingesting potatoes with green flesh, skin, or tubers causes sickness and, in some cases, human fatalities. Symptoms of ingestion include those common to gastrointestinal problems and nervous disorders. Clinical signs include headache, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Neurological symptoms include apathy, restlessness, drowsiness, stupor, confusion, hallucinations, dizziness, trembling, and visual impairment. In severe cases, fatalities occur. Certain birth defects are believed to result from ingesting potatoes infected with potato blight (Phytophthora infestans). However, no definitive proof has been found yet (McMillan and Thompson 1979, Sharma and Salunkhe 1989).

References:

  • McMillan, M., Thompson, J. C. 1979. An outbreak of suspected solanine poisoning in schoolboys: examination of criteria of solanine poisoning. Q. J. Med., 48: 227-243.
  • Sharma, R. P., Salunkhe, D. K. 1989. Solanum glycoalkaloids. Pages 179-236 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. I. Alkaloids. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 335 pp.

Rodents

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

Notes on Poisoning:

Pregnant hamsters were gavaged with potato sprout material. Some dams died as a result of experimentally ingesting sprout material. Fetal craniofacial malformations occurred in 24% of cases (Keeler et al. 1990).

References:

  • Keeler, R. F., Baker, D. C., Gaffield, W. 1990. Spirosolane-containing Solanum species and induction of congenital craniofacial malformations. Toxicon, 28: 873-884.

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:

Notes on Poisoning:

In Europe, swine that ingested potatoes were poisoned and subsequently died. Some animals died suddenly, whereas others showed signs of incoordination, convulsions, and appeared dazed. Additional symptoms included anorexia, excess salivation, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, and circulatory failure. Some cases required amputation, resulting from necrosis of the feet (Cooper and Johnson 1984).

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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