Galega officinalis (French honeysuckle, French lilac, European goat's rue). A member of the plant family PAPILIONACEAE. Perennial herbaceous plant with a hollow stem, leaves with 11-17 elliptical or lanceolate leaflets. The flowers are pale blue or white, developing into small pod-like fruit.

[affected.gif] Animals most affected
Sheep, (cattle).

[etiology.gif] Etiology
Ingestion of the fresh plant material or of contaminated fodder. There are many incidences of poisoning, and frequent deaths involving this plant have been reported.

[toxic.gif] Toxicity
Contains alkaloids: galegin and hydroxygalegin, and a heteroside, galuteolin, a yellow-staining substance.
Toxicity is maximal during flowering and development of the fruit. Drying the plant does not modify or reduce its toxicity.

Oral doses in kg of fresh plant
LD sheep 0.4-0.5


Clinical features
Subacute form
(After a latent period of 2436 h):

Acute form
(After a latent period of 24-36 h):

[lesions.gif] Lesions

Peracute form
No treatment.

Acute form
Symptomatic and supportive care:

To prevent further exposure, (immediately) remove the hay or fodder responsible for the poisoning.

[labinv~1.gif] Laboratory investigations

[case.gif] Case summaries
An interesting case of poisoning by goat's rue has been reported to CNITV by a colleague. From time to time a goat in a herd died suddenly. The farmer was not very concerned. One day three goats (one male and two females) became ill at the same time, with two of the animals dying within several hours. While the third goat was being examined it developed an excessive frothy discharge from the nostrils after an episode of severe respiratory distress. At autopsy, lesions included a significant hydrothorax, pulmonary oedema and slight effusions in the pericardium. The onset of the condition was rapid and abrupt, almost without clinical signs. Mild diarrhoea and pronounced acute respiratory difficulties preceded death. Analysis of the hay confirmed that it contained a significant proportion of Galega officinalis.