Arum maculatum (lords-and-ladies, wake robin, arum). Related species: A. italicum (Italian arum). A member of the plant family ARACEAE. Perennial plant with rhizome, and long leaves shaped like arrowheads, which may be purple-spotted. Pale green spathe and yellow-brown spadix, ripening to become covered with fleshy red arils (berries), each containing a few seeds.


[affected.gif] Animals most affected
Cattle, (sheep, horses, goats).


[etiology.gif] Etiology
Due to its bitter taste, direct ingestion of the plant is rare but does occur during periods of food shortage or drought. Poisoning results from livestock feeding on the plant while grazing, or consumption of contaminated fresh forage.


[toxic.gif] Toxicity
Contains coniine-type alkaloids including conicine, aroine and toxic saponins. The sap or juice is highly irritant. Toxic doses are not known.


[clinical.gif] Clinical features
Highly irritant effect on the skin and the mucosae.

If a large amount is ingested:

If a moderate amount has been ingested:

Generally good prognosis.


[lesions.gif] Lesions


[treatm~1.gif] Treatment
No antidote. Symptomatic care only:



[case.gif] Case summaries
At the start of summer and because of a continuing drought, a herd of 60 nanny goats were moved to a low-lying pasture which was shaded and close to a river. That evening all the animals in the goat-pen were well, but the following morning a small goat died after a bout of severe diarrhoea and abdominal pain; another animal presented with the same symptoms which abated following symptomatic treatment.
During the next 15 days, more goats became affected (diarrhoea, often haemorrhagic, abdominal pain). Several goats recovered spontaneously, others died having presented with neurological signs (convulsions, mild opisthotonos). The symptoms abated when the animals were confined to the goat-pen. A search of the field revealed cuckoo-pint plants, but which were devoid of berries, an unusual occurrence as arum tends to remain fruit-bearing until the beginning of autumn. There was also evidence of chewed berries in the same area. Analysis of ruminal contents revealed several berries, confirming that arum was the cause of poisoning and of the fatalities.