Rhododendron ferrugineum (alpen rose). Related species: R. hirsutum,
R. obtusum (kirishima azalea). A member of the plant family ERICACEAE. Common
evergreen shrub (also used as an ornamental garden plant) with reddish leaves, and
crimson-red flowers. Fruits are five-lobed capsules; the seeds have a fleshy endosperm.
Animals most affected
Cattle, sheep, goats, (horses, dogs, cats).
ingestion of stems and branches by ruminants (especially in winter on mountains
when grazing is limited);
chewing the leaves of the ornamental garden plants by cats and dogs.
Contains andromedotoxin, the structure of which is not fully established but which
has effects similar to those of aconitine. Drying the plant reduces its toxicity.
Oral doses not well known:
Rabbits and hares are hardly affected by the toxin.
Gastric effects appear several hours after ingestion, with attacks interspersed by
periods of apparent remission:
hypersalivation (cattle, goats);
projectile vomiting with gushing, watery vomitus;
intense abdominal pain (sheep) with groaning and moaning;
colic (in horses), with or without diarrhoea and blackened faeces;
ataxia, anorexia, fall in milk secretion.
If the quantity of plant material ingested is significant:
violent bouts of tetany, convulsions;
dizziness, tachypnoea, trembling, weakness, staggering and collapse;
death (due to asphyxia) follows rapidly once the animal becomes comatose.
petechial haemorrhages apparent on the meninges, and along the gastrointestinal
acute nephritis (occasional).
adsorbents, gastric demulcents;
sedatives, barbiturates if necessary.
Stomach contents, to confirm the presence of plant material.