The subject of poisonous plants is at all times naturally one of very great importance in every agricultural country, particularly in a country of such vast extent of fertile land as ours. It is more so, at the present time when the world-wide cry for food has turned the thoughts and intentions of farmery and stockowners to the necessity for greater production. In this greater effort, there is the danger of pasturage being restricted and overstocked and animals forced to eat plants they would otherwise avoid.
Although the yearly loss due to plant-poisoning is known to be on the increase, the amount of the loss is not ascertainable, owing to the fact that many fatalities are attributed to other causes through lack of knowledge and available literature. A knowledge of poisonous plants and the ability to distinguish the most harmful species in his neighbourhood are highly essential to every owner of live stock, so that he may be enabled to avoid pasturing animals on infested areas until the danger is past. This publication has been prepared with this end in view, as well as for the use of the general public and students interested in the subject. The descriptions and illustrations, it is hoped, will be of service in this connection.
Wherever possible, all scientific terms have been translated into ordinary English, and the most familiar of the common names given. The scientific names and synonyms of each species, as well as the scientific names of the families, have been inserted for the greater convenience of teachers and science masters. The symptoms have been given to assist veterinary surgeons in diagnosing cases of poisoning.
Since, in every case of severe poisoning, whether of human beings or animals, professional advice should be promptly summoned, no attempt has been made to cover remedial measures; but a few suggestions useful in emergencies have been given here and there. For general treatment of animals a supply of permanganate of potash and aluminum sulphate (alum) should be kept on hand. These drugs are inexpensive and may be obtained at any druggist's. A well-dissolved equal portion of each should be administered at the earliest possible moment after poisoning.
As this publication is the first of its kind in Canada, and as the information contained has been gathered from widely scattered sources, there is still a very great deal to be learned in regard to Canadian poisonous plants. For this reason it is hoped that all interested will send in suspicious plants for identification, to the Experimental Farm, Ottawa.