Cyanogenic glycosides are present in many plants and are converted to hydrogen cyanide or prussic acid when plant cells are damaged.
The concentration of cyanogenic glycosides within a plant is variable: growth stage, moisture and time of day can all influence plant cyanogenic glycosides levels. Fertilization and herbicide application can increase cyanogenic glycoside concentrations.
Chronic cyanide poisoning from eating sublethal doses over time causes loss of nerve function. Acute cyanide poisoning causes sudden death. Care should be taken to remove the plants containing cyanogenic glycosides from pastures.
Common pasture plants affecting the nervous system:
- Acroptilon repens (Russian knapweed)
- Apocynum cannabinum (Hemp dogbane)
- Centaurea solstitialis (Yellow star thistle)
- Cicuta douglasii (Western water hemlock)
- Conium maculatum (Poison hemlock)
- Daucus carota (Wild carrot)
- Delphinium spp. (Larkspur)
- Prunus spp. (Black cherry & Chokecherry)
- Trifolium spp. (Clover)
- Triglochin spp. (Arrowgrass)