Common Name
Cow cockle, spring cockle, dairy pink, cow soapwort
Botanic Name
Vaccaria hispanica (Mill.) Rauschert
Plant Family
Common weed of wheat fields, disturbed soils and waste areas.
Animals Affected
Cattle, sheep and horses eating the seeds that contaminate grain.
Toxic Principle
Saponins (soap-like compounds) appear to be the principle toxins. If eaten in sufficient quantity, the saponins may cause acute hepatopathy and death. The seeds which are especially toxic may be a contaminant of cereal crops.
Branched annual growing 2-3 feet in height, and arising from a taproot. The stems and leaves are hairless and covered with a waxy bloom that easily rubs off. Multiple flowers are produced at the neds of brancches, and are tubular,and white to purple in color. The fruits are capsules releasing brown triangular seeds.
There is no specific treatment. Supportive therapy is indicated.
Hepatic System
Acute liver failure.
Special Notes
Cow cockle is similar to corn cockle (Agrostemma githago), also a common weed of grain fields.