Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

January 20, 2016

Creeping Indigo

Creeping Indigo
Picture credit: Habitat for Horses

If this name means nothing to you, and you own horses, be thankful.
You are lucky!
This is the name of a local weed that is quite toxic and has been killing horses and other grazing animals all over Florida for years.
First the story was on our local News and then later  I saw it again on Twitter in a story written by Dinah Voyles Pulver of the Daytona Beach News Journal.
After reading and hearing about these deadly incidences, I was concerned enough to immediately call our Vet for either a confirmation,  or at the very least an educated opinion on the issue.
Then I spent the rest of the day gathering other reference stories for today’s Blog post.
This has been to say the least, an unsettling 24 hours.
My fear, of course, was that consuming the weed might be fatal for dogs as well, as it looked like plants we have on our property.
The plant was brought to Florida in 1925, by the University of Florida for a series of experiments, but after an animal died, the work stopped.
Sadly, even though they ditched the project, apparently the plant lived on and thrived and spread in different directions around the state.
Not only horses, are affected, but cows, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens and other animals that have eaten it and died.
Pigs it is said, seem to avoid it.
Giving me once again, fodder for my confirmed opinion that pigs are exceptionally intelligent.
It may also kill local deer who eat it.

Creeping Indigo
Picture credit: WESH TV

This toxic weed, owners of deceased animals say, is something like catnip or candy, to the victim.
They seem to be unable to stop eating it, even when the can barely walk anymore.
This is heartbreaking for all involved.
But, what really bothers me the most, is that this plant should never have been brought here to begin with.
Like so many other dangerous Global disasters, in the past, it just all got out of control.
Two things can help you to identify this weed in your own yard or pasture, after a night of cold weather,  the weed will likely have tiny salmon/orangish colored flowers on it and most telling, the plant can have a massive tap root.
This huge root is what makes the plant so very difficult to get rid of.
The plant also has long runners which enable it to hide or disappear in a field of grass.
Here is what disturbs me and many others including those who have lost their animals. There is no known treatment, or cure for this and a nearly complete lack of support by UF, who brought it here in the first place.
Recently they have started a program for educating the public, but it has been allowed to become so wide spread, control is not likely, ever, across the state.
Please do take the time to learn more about this very toxic weed if you have animals that graze, it may save their lives.
Please educate yourself and Google Creeping Indigo.

Places to learn more:
Creeping Indigo Toxicity
Deadly weed kills Ruskin Horse
Habitat for Horses
Deadly weed dooms horses
Creeping Indigo

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