Rutgers Equine Science Center in New Brunswick, NJ announced that a toxic plant called “Catsear” has been found growing in areas as far north as New Jersey
due to the high amount of rain and moisture. Horse owners should be aware of this plant as it is easily confused with the common dandelion. Dandelions are not poisonous to horses
, but Catsear has the potential to be dangerous if consumed in large quantities, and Rutgers notes that some horses have been eating the plant even if adequate forage is available.
View slideshow: Catsear has been found in New Jersey pastures. The plant is poisonous to horses if ingested in large quantities. Horses have been found eating the plant according to Rutgers University.
Catsear is suspected to cause stringhalt which is a neurologic problem where the horse exaggerates the flexing of its hind legs when walking. The condition caused by the Catsear plant is known as Australian stringhalt due to its prevalence in Australia and New Zealand. Stringhalt is commonly associated with vetch and sweet pea poisoning in horses.
Toxic Catsear has been identified in horse pastures as far north as New Jersey by Rutgers University. Rainy weather is responsible for the abundance of this plant toxic to horses.
Photography by Marcya Roberts, freelance writer for Examiner.com
Keep an eye on your pastures for Catsear and other toxic plants and remove them as necessary to ensure your grazing areas are safe for horses. How to identify Catsear
At first glance, Catsear plants look very similar to Dandelions, but the two plants differ in stem and leaf structure. The photo that accompanies this article was identified as Common Catsear (also known as False Dandelion) by Dr. Bradley A. Majek of Rutgers University Department of Plant Biology and Pathology.
Rutgers provides some details on how to tell Catsear apart from Dandelion:
Stems: Catsear has several stems with multiple flowers per plant, while Dandelions bear a single flower per plant.
Leaves: Catsear has soft, hairy, rounded/curved-lobed, and darker green leaves compared to Dandelion with its hairless, lighter green, course/pointed, deeply serrated leaves.
Flower: Underneath the flower, the green leaf-like structures (sepals) cling to the yellow catsear flower. In Dandelions, the sepals curl away from the flower.
Season: While Dandelion blossoms in the early spring, Catsear blossoms in the early summer.