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Maple Leaves

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Maple Leaves

Notes on poisoning: wild cabbage


General poisoning notes:

Brassica oleracea includes common cultivated crops such as kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. All these vegetables are capable of forming toxic quantities of SMCO, a chemical that can cause hemolytic anemia in livestock. These plants also contain glucosinolates, which can cause goiter. In general, these widely used vegetables are safe for human consumption. Cases of livestock poisoning occur when they are used almost exclusively as fodder for animals (Kingsbury 1964, Smith 1980, Cheeke and Schull 1985, Benevenga et al. 1989). Glucosinolates contained in kale, cabbage, and broccoli (Brassica oleracea) can cause goiter in humans. These plants cause goiter in less than 5% of cases in humans. The chemicals cause a reduction in performance of young livestock, especially swine and poultry (Fenwick et al. 1989). It is important to note that the frequency of toxicity has dropped dramatically since a few decades ago. Researchers have changed the quantity of toxic compounds in the entire Brassica spp., creating new cultivars with lower quantities of these chemicals. The threat of poisoning from some of the plants has diminished or virtually disappeared in some cultivars. For example, the Canadian development of rapeseed into the so-called "double-zero" cultivars (low in glucosinolates and in erucic acid) has allowed rapeseed meal to be used for livestock at much higher levels without reducing performance (Cheeke and Schull 1985).

References:

Benevenga, N. J., Case, G. L., Steele, R. D. 1989. Occurrence and metabolism of s-methyl-l-cysteine and s-methyl-l-cysteine sulfoxide in plants and their toxicity and metabolism in animals. Pages 203-228 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. III. Proteins and amino acids. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 271 pp.

Cheeke, P. R., Shull, L. R. 1985. Natural toxicants in feeds and poisonous plants. AVI Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, Conn., USA. 492 pp.

Fenwick, G. R., Heaney, R. K., Mawson, R. 1989. Glucosinolates. Pages 1-41 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. II. Glycosides. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 277 pp.

Kingsbury, J. M. 1964. Poisonous plants of the United States and Canada. Prentice-Hall Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., USA. 626 pp.

Smith, R. H. 1980. Kale poisoning: the brassica anemia factor. Vet. Rec., 107: 12-15.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name: Brassica oleracea L.

Vernacular name(s): wild cabbage

Scientific family name: Cruciferae

Vernacular family name: mustard

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Brassica oleracea

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

Newfoundland
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
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

wild cabbage:

Images: images.google.com

Notes on Poisonous plant parts:

SMCO is most abundant in young leaves and growing points. Brussels sprouts can have high amounts of the chemical, as can the flowering parts of the plants. The most drastic hemolytic anemia occurs when these plants form exclusive fodder for livestock (Smith 1980).

Toxic parts:

all parts
flowers
leaves

References:

Smith, R. H. 1980. Kale poisoning: the brassica anemia factor. Vet. Rec., 107: 12-15.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

Glucosinolates are chemicals that can inhibit the function of the thyroid gland. Various components of the chemicals can be detrimental to both humans and livestock. Goitrin inhibits thyroid function. Thiocynates and isothiocyanates inhibit iodine uptake by the thyroid gland. Nitriles can be formed from glucosinolates and these chemicals are toxic, affecting the liver and kidneys (Cheeke and Schull 1985). SMCO (S-methyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide) is an alpha-amino acid that causes hemolytic anemia in livestock. This chemical is restricted to various members of the family Cruciferae in the genera Brassica and Raphanus as well as the family Liliaceae in the genus Allium (onions). Additional notes on this chemical can be found under members of these genera. The concentration of SMCO in kale plants may double as the plants mature. The quantity of SMCO is increased with the addition of nitrogen to high-sulfate soils. SMCO can be greatly reduced in low-sulfate soils. The variation of SMCO varies greatly amongst different varieties of plants in the genus Brassica, suggesting that concentrations of SMCO may be heritable (Benevenga et al. 1989).

Toxic plant chemicals:

glucosinolates
Image of glucosinolates

glucosinolates
Image of glucosinolates

glucosinolates
Image of glucosinolates

S-methyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide (SMCO)

Chemical diagram(s) are courtesy of Ruth McDiarmid, Biochemistry Technician, Kamloops Range Station, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Kamploops, British Columbia, Canada.

References:

Benevenga, N. J., Case, G. L., Steele, R. D. 1989. Occurrence and metabolism of s-methyl-l-cysteine and s-methyl-l-cysteine sulfoxide in plants and their toxicity and metabolism in animals. Pages 203-228 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. III. Proteins and amino acids. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 271 pp.

Cheeke, P. R., Shull, L. R. 1985. Natural toxicants in feeds and poisonous plants. AVI Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, Conn., USA. 492 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:

Heinz bodies
hemoglobinuria
weight gain, reduced

References:

Smith, R. H. 1980. Kale poisoning: the brassica anemia factor. Vet. Rec., 107: 12-15.

Goats

General symptoms of poisoning:

Heinz bodies
hemoglobinuria

References:

Smith, R. H. 1980. Kale poisoning: the brassica anemia factor. Vet. Rec., 107: 12-15.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

thyroid, enlarged

References:

Cheeke, P. R., Shull, L. R. 1985. Natural toxicants in feeds and poisonous plants. AVI Publishing Company, Inc., Westport, Conn., USA. 492 pp.

Poultry

Sheep

General symptoms of poisoning:

Heinz bodies
hemoglobinuria

References:

Benevenga, N. J., Case, G. L., Steele, R. D. 1989. Occurrence and metabolism of s-methyl-l-cysteine and s-methyl-l-cysteine sulfoxide in plants and their toxicity and metabolism in animals. Pages 203-228 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. III. Proteins and amino acids. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 271 pp.

Swine

General symptoms of poisoning:

weight gain, reduced

Notes on poisoning:

Glucosinolates in the plants can cause general reduced weight gain in young pigs (less than 20 kg) (Fenwick et al. 1989).

References:

Fenwick, G. R., Heaney, R. K., Mawson, R. 1989. Glucosinolates. Pages 1-41 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. II. Glycosides. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 277 pp.

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Date modified: 2009-09-01