Hey, everyone. I was just wondering if anyone has any experience with these trees on their property and if they are truly as deadly to animals as they are said to be.
Will chickens, ducks and goats know to avoid them if they are?
I grew these trees from seed and have just now found out after several years of caring for them they are a menace.
I'm thinking I shouldn't even risk it and just find a new home for them ( The trees I mean :) ). Thank in advance for any advice.
Hi Thelma, from what I can find, there is a compound in the beans called cystisine that can be poisonous, not the leaves or bark. Some Native Americans used the leaves of the tree to make a laxative. It appears if animals drink water that the pods have fallen into can result in poisoning and death and there are reported cases of this. I'm no expert on the subject, but I imagine if goats browsed the bean pods it could also result in poisoning.
These beans are an old substitute for coffee. It appears the heat from roasting these beans destroys the alkaloid associated with poisoning rendering them safe for making a drink.
"Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books." ~ William A. Albrecht
I've been checking out many of the trees in the Pea family, and all that I have found so far, seem to have poison issues with the seeds. Some, such as mother of cocoa, also have poisonous bark. It is also known as the rat poison tree. Even with this quite poisonous tree, the recommendation is to keep non-ruminants away from it. Apparently goats and cattle do just fine, or maybe they limit their intake. Pigs and horses can die from things that goats do fine on. Goats seem to also know when I've had enough of a certain thing, and they switch to another food source.
Wikipedia says that native people not only made a drink, but they boiled and ate the seeds. Similar to what is done with cassava and other things that contain some cyanide. Animal fodder containing cyanide, sees a reduction when the material is cut and allowed to wilt. Cyanide can be almost eliminated when the leaves are mixed into silage and pickled for a few weeks.
I have been trying to figure out this tree. The foliage is good for animal consumption, but the seeds are not. It is actually a mystery how they spread according to this article. I would guess a couple things based on this:
1) the seeds are not intentionally eaten by mammals, but must be eaten and moved around by something. I'm assuming they are unintentionally eaten by bigger mammals but who knows, they have a really tough cover that may resist degradation in a ruminant gut.
2) The pods are likely the target of the ruminant, like honeylocust. These are slurped down by deer, they barely chew them.
3) The toxicity is likely overrated, like black cherry. This resource for silvopasture from USDA recommends it. Animals will eat all manner of toxic plants if they are starving. Don't let them starve. Most plants that are really toxic have aversive qualities. I have Digitalis in my silvopasture, black cherry, and other toxic plants.
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
posted 6 months ago
Toxic compounds in leaves, tend to be most concentrated when the plant is under stress. During drought or immediately after an injury, a plant may put out much more of the toxic irritant, to discourage grazing. When there's lots of rain and good nutrition in the soil, the plant puts out leaves that are far less toxic. Herbivores then eat the leaves. Tagaste becomes much more toxic if it's allowed to set seed. So it must be grazed regularly, to avoid it going to seed.
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