Widely-spread, to be found along roadsides, old cultivated lands, etc. all across the country.
BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION: The larvae of the African monarch butterfly feed on this plant.
General: This is an erect, sparsely branched perennial shrub that can grow up to 2m tall and all parts contain milky latex.
Leaves: The thick leathery leaves are glossy dark green above and paler below. They are hairless and often tinged red. The petioles are often also reddish. Opposite, sometimes alternate with entire margins.
Flowers: Dense clusters of cream to yellow drooping flowers. October - April.
Fruit: The fruit is a balloon-like structure with long hair-like growths hanging from it. It contains many black seeds, which have plumes with long silky hairs.
Poisonous cardenolide cardiac glycosides have been isolated from Gomphocarpus fruticosa.
Acute poisoning by cardenolide-containing plants (Also refer to Tulp Poisoning)
• Not specific - rather negative
• Subepi- and endocardial haemorrhages • Lung oedema, congestion, emphysema • Ruminal atony and enteritis - even haemorrhagic
• Leaves present in rumen
In more chronic cases small foci of degeneration of cardiac musculature are seen occasionally
• Activated charcoal is very effective
• Dose 2g/kg
• Large dose is essential
• Even retro-diffusion from plasma
• Adsorption and fixation of excess in rumen
• Minimize stress to prevent catecholamine release
Additional treatment for valuable animals:
• ß-blocking agents
• ACP: Tranquillizer (multipotent blocker)
• Atropine (if AV-block is present)
Colour photos. Final web-ready size: JPEG, 72 ppi. Photo 1: 18.5 kb, 72 ppi; Photo 2: 33.5 kb, 96 ppi; Photo 3: 9.12 kb, 72 ppi; Photo 4: 34.6 kb, 96 ppi. Original TIFF file housed at the Dept. of Paraclinical Sciences, Section Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Pretoria.