Sorghum sudanense (Scientific name)

General Poisoning Notes:

Sudan grass (Sorghum sudanense) is a cultivated forage that is planted as a late-season emergency forage crop and is either pastured or cut for green feed. Some naturalized plants are occasionally found in waste places. Sudan grass can have an HCN potential after damage to the plant. It can also accumulate toxic quantities of nitrates. These problems can be avoided by proper management. Cattle are the main livestock animals that have been poisoned. In one case in California, sheep became photosensitive after ingesting Sudan grass pasture for several days. The photodynamic pigment was not determined (Gray et al. 1968, Clay et al. 1976, Fuller and McClintock 1986).

References:

  • Clay, B. R., Edwards, W. C., Peterson, D. R. 1976. Toxic nitrate accumulation in the sorghums. Bovine Pract., 11: 28-32.
  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.
  • Gray, E., Rice, J. S., Wattenbarger, D., Benson, J. A., Hester, A. J., Loyd, R. C., Greene, B. M. 1968. Hydrocyanic acid potential of Sorghum plants grown in Tennessee. Tenn. Agric. Exp. Stn. Bull., 445. 48 pp.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Sorghum sudanense (Piper) Stapf
Vernacular name(s):
Sudan grass
Scientific family name:
Gramineae
Vernacular family name:
grass

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Sorghum sudanense

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

  • Ontario
  • Quebec

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: Sorghum sudanense - Google search

Notes on Poisonous Plant Parts:

The HCN potential is greatest in younger plants. Damage to the plant material is required for release of the volatile HCN (Gray et al. 1968).

Toxic parts:

  • leaves
  • stems

References:

  • Clay, B. R., Edwards, W. C., Peterson, D. R. 1976. Toxic nitrate accumulation in the sorghums. Bovine Pract., 11: 28-32.
  • Gray, E., Rice, J. S., Wattenbarger, D., Benson, J. A., Hester, A. J., Loyd, R. C., Greene, B. M. 1968. Hydrocyanic acid potential of Sorghum plants grown in Tennessee. Tenn. Agric. Exp. Stn. Bull., 445. 48 pp.

Notes on Toxic Plant Chemicals:

Sudan grass contains a cyanogenic glycoside, dhurrin, that can release HCN after plant damage such as frost, mastication, and water stress and allows plant enzymes to alter the glycoside. If enough HCN is released into the animal's system, cyanide leads to cytotoxic hypoxia, which can result in death by asphyxiation. Nitrates can also accumulate to toxic levels in Sudan grass. A case of photosensitization occurred in sheep. A photodynamic pigment may be contained in Sudan grass (Gray et al. 1968, Clay et al. 1976, Fuller and McClintock 1986).

Toxic Plant Chemicals:

  • dhurrin
  • nitrate

References:

  • Clay, B. R., Edwards, W. C., Peterson, D. R. 1976. Toxic nitrate accumulation in the sorghums. Bovine Pract., 11: 28-32.
  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.
  • Gray, E., Rice, J. S., Wattenbarger, D., Benson, J. A., Hester, A. J., Loyd, R. C., Greene, B. M. 1968. Hydrocyanic acid potential of Sorghum plants grown in Tennessee. Tenn. Agric. Exp. Stn. Bull., 445. 48 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:

Notes on Poisoning:

The release of cyanide into the animal's system leads to cytotoxic hypoxia. In severe cases, death has resulted from asphyxiation. Other symptoms include increased breathing rate, irregular pulse, staggering, and frothing at the mouth. Nitrate poisoning causes methemoglobinemia, which can result in death. From 3-5 days after surviving acute poisoning, pregnant cows may abort (Gray et al. 1968, Clay et al. 1976).

References:

  • Clay, B. R., Edwards, W. C., Peterson, D. R. 1976. Toxic nitrate accumulation in the sorghums. Bovine Pract., 11: 28-32.
  • Gray, E., Rice, J. S., Wattenbarger, D., Benson, J. A., Hester, A. J., Loyd, R. C., Greene, B. M. 1968. Hydrocyanic acid potential of Sorghum plants grown in Tennessee. Tenn. Agric. Exp. Stn. Bull., 445. 48 pp.

Sheep

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

References:

  • Fuller, T. C., McClintock, E. 1986. Poisonous plants of California. Univ. California Press, Berkeley, Calif., USA. 432 pp.

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