Common Name
Mountain mahogony
Botanic Name
Cercocarpus montanus
Plant Family
Common woody shrub of the drier, foothills, and Ponderosa pine terrain of the Rocky Mountains.
Animals Affected
Cattle rarely.
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 if wilted or in regrowth. The cyanide blocks the action of the cellular enzyme cytochrome oxidase thus preventing hemoglobin from releasing oxygen to the tissues. Death results rapidly from anoxia.
Shrub or small tree up to 6 feet tall. Leaves are simple, oval, toothed with prominant veins beneath. The flowers are small, inconspicuous with yellowish sepals, no petals and are either single or in clusters. The fruit is a small seed attached to which is a 2-3 inch twisted style that through its coiling and uncoiling in the presence of moisture helps to bore the seed into the soil.
Mucous membranes of the mouth may appear cherry-red in color.
Without stressing the animal, sodium thiosulfate and sodium nitrite should be given intravenously. A mixture of 1ml 20% sodium nitrite and 3ml of 20% sodium 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 may be the first symptom noticed.
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 anxiousness due to difficulty in breathing and lack of oxygen.
Reproductive System
Abortions may occur if dam does not die first from the acute effects of respiratory failure.
Hydrogen cyanide may be detected in the fresh rumen contents and suspect plant material being eaten by the animal suing the sodium picrate test. Commercial cyanide test kits are available.
Special Notes
Mountain mahogany is rarely eaten by livestock.
Mountain mahogany fruits with twisted style.