locoweed

/loh"koh weed'/, n.
any of various leguminous plants of the genera Astragalus and Oxytropis, of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, causing locoism in sheep, horses, etc.
[1875-80, Amer.; LOCO + WEED1]

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Any of several species of poisonous plants of the genera Astragalus and Oxytropis, in the pea family (see legume), native to the prairies of north-central and western North America.

These low-growing plants (up to 1.5 ft [45 cm] high) have variably hairy, fernlike leaves and spikes of pealike flowers. They pose a danger to grazing animals because they contain a toxin that affects muscle control, producing frenzied behaviour, impaired vision, and sometimes death. Because they taste bad, livestock usually eat them only when other forage is scarce. Decaying locoweeds release toxins into the soil that are sometimes absorbed by otherwise harmless forage crops.

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plant
 any of several species of poisonous plants of the genera Astragalus and Oxytropis, in the pea family (Fabaceae), native to the prairies of north central and western North America. Locoweeds pose a danger to livestock, horses, and other grazing animals, because they contain a toxin that affects muscle control, producing frenzied behaviour, impaired vision, and sometimes death. Most locoweeds, however, are unpalatable to livestock and are eaten only when other forage is unavailable. The level of toxicity appears to depend on soil conditions; decaying locoweeds release toxins sometimes taken up by otherwise harmless forage crops.

      Many species are low-growing plants, up to 45 centimetres (1 1/2 feet) high, of variable hairiness with fernlike leaves and spikes of pealike flowers. A few are especially dangerous: woolly locoweed (Astragalus mollissimus), with woolly leaves and violet flowers; A. wootonii, with whitish flowers; crazyweed, or purple loco (Oxytropis lambertii), with pink to purplish flowers; and the showy oxytropis (O. splendens), bearing silvery hairs and rich lavender-pink flowers.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • locoweed — ☆ locoweed [lō′kō wēd΄ ] n. any of several perennial plants (genera Astragalus and Oxytropis) of the pea family, which are common in W North America and cause the loco disease of cattle, sheep, and, esp., horses …   English World dictionary

  • Locoweed — For other uses, see Locoweed (disambiguation). Locoweed (also crazyweed and loco) is a common name in North America for any plant that produces swainsonine, a phytotoxin harmful to livestock. Worldwide, swainsonine is produced by a small number… …   Wikipedia

  • locoweed — noun 1. any of several leguminous plants of western North America causing locoism in livestock • Syn: ↑crazyweed, ↑crazy weed • Hypernyms: ↑legume, ↑leguminous plant • Hyponyms: ↑purple locoweed, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • locoweed — noun Date: 1879 any of several leguminous plants (genera Astragalus and Oxytropis) of western North America that cause locoism especially in livestock …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • locoweed — noun Any of several plants indigenous to the western United States, of genus Oxytropis or Astragalus, are toxic to cattle and the symptoms of poisoning include nervous problems …   Wiktionary

  • locoweed — lo·co·weed lō (.)kō .wēd n any of several leguminous plants (genera Astragalus and Oxytropis) of western No. America that cause locoism in livestock * * * lo·co·weed (loґko wēd) [Sp. loco insane] any of numerous leguminous plants that grow… …   Medical dictionary

  • locoweed — lo|co|weed [ˈləukəuwi:d US ˈloukou ] n [Date: 1800 1900; Origin: loco + weed] a plant that grows in America and makes animals ill if they eat it …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • locoweed — n. leguminous plant which grows in the western and southwestern United States …   English contemporary dictionary

  • locoweed — noun N. Amer. a plant which can cause a brain disorder if eaten by livestock. [Genera Astragalus and Oxytropis.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • locoweed — noun (C) a plant that grows in America and makes animals ill if they eat it …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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