Although it is found in the Karoo, it always grows near water, eg. Near dams, streams, vleis etc. chiefly on alluvial soils, but also in calciferous and brackish areas.
General: This is a many-branched, woody
shrublet, growing up to 0,5 m in height. It sometimes occurs as an invader.
Leaves: Small narrow leaves are arranged opposite each other on pale yellowish branchlets that end in sharp spikes. The leaf base is clasping the stem.
Flowers: The small yellowish to white flower heads are stalkless.
Seed: The seed is small, oblong, without a crown of hairs or scales (pappus).
Toxic principle unknown. Associated with secondary photosensitivity in sheep. Farmers’ name “vuursiekte” indicates they knew about it for many years. Plants only eaten when sheep are driven by necessity to do so.
Hepatogenous photosensitivity due to liver parenchymal damage, Vuursiekte.
Sheep become sick from 3 – 7 days after exposure. Associated with secondary photosensitivity in sheep. Photodermatitis, icterus. Anorexia, rumen stasis. Confused with geeldikkop in some areas.
Clear macroscopic damage to liver. Liver is swollen friable and yellow brown. Accentuated lobulation – dark red zones in most gives a mosaic appearance. Icterus, gall bladder oedema. Nephrosis.
Can try choleretics, i.e. clanobutin. Antihistamines, antibiotics. Place in shade, dose activated charcoal. Diet low in chlorophyll (good quality hay). Skin protectant creams.
Colour photos. Final web-ready size: JPEG. Photo 1: 12.9 kb, 1350 ppi; Photo 2: 11.6 kb, 300 ppi; Photo 3: 49.4 kb, 72 ppi; Photo 4: 11 kb, 1350 ppi; Photo 5: 6.1 kb, 72 ppi; Photo 6: 7.4 kb, 72 ppi. Original TIFF file housed at the Dept. of Paraclinical Sciences, Section Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Pretoria.