Keep Horses, Livestock Away From Creeping Indigo

Keep Horses, Livestock Away From Creeping Indigo

Creeping indogo has pink- to coral-colored flowers.

Photo: Bob Peterson/Wikimedia Commons

Officials in Flagler County, Florida, are warning that an invasive plant called creeping indigo, which is poisonous to horses and other grazing livestock, has been identified in that county.

The plant was introduced into Florida in 1925 as a potential forage species because it is in the same family as alfalfa, clover, and peanuts. Concerns about toxicosis, however, were evident by the 1930s and using it for forage was abandoned.

The plant has since expanded its growing area northward from Key West into central and north Florida. Flagler County has an Invasive exotic control program and officials are working to significantly reduce its presence on public lands.

“We are getting better at identifying it,” said Mark Warren, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension agent in Flagler and Putnam counties. “We want people to know what to look for.”

The plants grow like groundcover and have pink- to coral-colored flowers arranged in clusters with leaves that have six to eight small clover-like leaflets per leaf unit.

“The plant can be showy looking, but detection can be difficult when in areas where it either mixes with other grasses and plants,” Warren said. “Livestock owners should learn to identify and manage pastures to reduce risks associated with creeping indigo.

Clinical signs of toxicosis can include weight and appetite loss, increased heart rate, labored breathing, hypersalivation, foaming from the mouth, dehydration, and neurologic signs (such as changes in personality, depression, low headset, head pressing, compulsive walking, head tilting, hanging lips, abnormal gait, unconsciousness, and convulsions).

Warren is hosting an educational meeting about creeping indigo from 10 a.m. to noon on July 25 at the Extension office, located at 150 Sawgrass Road in Bunnell.

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