Common Name
Snakeweed, broomweed, turpentine weed.
Botanic Name
Gutierrezia sarothrae (Pursh) Britton & Rusby
Plant Family
Dry plains and foothills at altitudes from 4000-10000 feet.
Animals Affected
Horses, cattle, sheep, goats
Toxic Principle
Saponins are believed to be the toxic component of snakeweed. Both the green and dried plant are toxic, although there appears to be considerable variability in toxicity.
Perennial which is shrubby or woody only at the base, attaining 18-24 inches in height. The stems are branching, the leaves are linear and glabrous. The heads are many, usually in clusters at the ends of branches. A given head will have no more than 3-8 ray flowers and 3-8 disc flowers. The flowers are yellow with the disc flowers usually perfect. The corollas are 5-lobed and the pappus is composed of several to many oblong scales. Often forms dense stands especially in overgrazed rangeland.
Diarrhea followed by constipation.
Loss of weight
Congenital Defects
Abortions. Calves may be born alive and weak, and may die after a few days.
There is no specific treatment. Affected animals should be removed from the snakeweed and giving supportive care.
Reproductive System
Abortions, retained fetal membranes. May also decrease male fertility.
Hepatic System
Liver necrosis and degeneration may be seen at post mortem examination.
Abortions, liver necrosis, access to snakeweed.
Special Notes
Ref: Gardner DR, James LF, Panter KE, Pfister JA, Ralphs MH, Stegelmeier BL. Ponderosa pine and broom snakeweed: poisonous plants that affect livestock. J Nat Toxins. 1999 Feb;8(1):27-34. PMID: 10091125.
Snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae).
Snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae) flower.