Aquilegias grow in many parts of the world not only as a wild plant, but also as an ornamental plant in the garden. This is a great danger for horses and other animals because the plant has toxic components.
Aquilegias – family of Ranunculus
Aquilegias belong to the family of Ranunculus. The plant is known for its beauty and due to this more than 70 different species were cultured. However, in Europe the Aquilegia vulgaris, Aquilegia atrata and the Aquilegia alpina are the most dominant species. Sometimes the plant is also called Columbine. Aquilegias grow in whole Europe, North America, Asia and Africa. In the wildness the plant prefers meadows or areas near or in the forest. The most important conditions for a proper growth are a calcareous soil and partial shade.
Outward appearance of the Aquilegia
The Aquilegia becomes three to five years old and is in full bloom between Mai and July. The plant can reach a height of maximal 30 inches and the flowers a width of one to two inches. Aquilegias are herbaceous plants with a variety of colors for the flower. The dominant color is violet but there are also white and pink colorations. They hang on the stalk and have the shape of a bell. The flowers grow reciprocally and the heads of the flower look towards of the ground. The surface of the leaves is water-repellent and you can observe the lotus effect.
Toxicity for horses
All parts of the Aquilegia offer poisonous substances. Especially the seeds offer a high concentration of these components. If the toxic substance hydrogen cyanide enters the organism it attacks the whole cardiovascular system. Additionally the pure contact with the skin can already effect irritations and inflamed blisters. Compared to other poisonous plants the Aquilegia is less toxic and in the past there was no case of death after a consumption of this plant. However, it still is a toxic plant. If horse owners notice the following symptoms they need to call a vet:
- difficulties in breathing
- kardia of the heart
- general weakening of the circulatory system
In general one needs to control all places where horses are without supervision (e.g. pastures) if there are any poisonous plants.