Common Name
Suckleya, poison suckleya
Botanic Name
Suckleya suckleyana
Plant Family
Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot family)
Prefers moist areas especially the edges of receding ponds, resevoirs and in run-off areas from irrigated fields or flood waters.
Animals Affected
Cattle, sheep
Toxic Principle
Cyanogenic glycoside which is hydrolysed in the rumen by bacteria to free hydrogen cyanide (HCN). All parts of the plant are poisonous especially when wilted. The cyanide blocks the action of the cellular enzyme cytochrome oxidase thereby preventing hemoglobin from releasing oxygen to the tissues. Death results rapidly because the brain and other organs are deprived of oxygen (anoxia).
Suckleya is an annual, prostrate, freely branching, succulent herb with red stems. Leaves are alternate, triangular or spade shaped with toothed margins and long petioles. The inconspicuous flowers are produced at the leaf axils. The plants are monoecious, the male flowers forming at the tips of the branches and the female flowers along the rest of the branches. The fruits are reddish-brown, enclosed by 2 papery brown scales joined at the tip.
Excessive salivation.
Without stressing the animal, sodium thiosulfate and sodium nitrite should be given intravenously. A mixture of 1ml 20% sodium nitrite and 3ml of 20% thiosulfate should be prepared and given at the rate of 4 ml of the mixture per 100lbs body weight. Sodium thiosulfate should be given orally via stomach using 30gm dissolved in a gallon of water.
Cardiovascular system
Sudden death is often the first sign of a cyanide problem in animals. If observed early in the course of poisoning animals may show a variety of signs associated with the lack of oxygen. Mucous membranes appear pink and redder than normal. Venous blood is cherry-red in color. Stressing the animal rapidly leads to collapse and death.
Respiratory System
Initially animals show difficulty in breathing. Open mouth breathing is common as the animals becomes oxygen deprived. Excessive salivation, nervousness and weakness precede death. Mucous membranes appear pink and redder than normal. Venous blood is cherry red in color. Stressing the animal rapidly leads to collapse and death.
Nervous System
Excitement and nervousness as animal becomes hypoxic and asphyxiated.
Reproductive System
Pregnant animals may abort if they survive the acute effects of the cyanide themselves.
Rumen contents or plant material can be tested for cyanide using the sodium picrate test. Commerical test kits for cyanide are available.
Special Notes
Suckleya is often the only succulant green plant growing around water holes and resevoirs in late summer and is therefore quite palatable to livestock.
Suckleya leaves and red stems.