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.
Animals most affected
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.
Contains alkaloids: galegin and hydroxygalegin, and a heteroside, galuteolin, a yellow-staining
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
(After a latent period of 2436 h):
severe dyspnoea, stertorous breathing through the mouth, extended neck;
severe congestion of the eyes;
engorgement of the jugular veins and neck;
death occurring within one hour.
(After a latent period of 24-36 h):
tachycardia, oedema and swelling of the face;
death occurring in 1248 hours.
hydrothorax with pulmonary oedema;
petechiae and suffusions under the endocardium;
congestion of the meninges and gastrointestinal tract (occasional).
Symptomatic and supportive care:
To prevent further exposure, (immediately) remove the hay or fodder responsible for
rumen contents for identification of any fragnients of leaves or stems;
samples of suspected hay or fodder.
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.