(Rhododendron species)

Azaleas are poisonous to horses

Plant Description

Azaleas are evergreens that are large shrubs or small trees. They have vibrant flowers, usually pink but sometimes purple, that appear in the spring.

Geographic Locations

In the midwestern United States, these plants are usually grown primarily as part of planted landscapes. However, in areas of the United States that are at an elevation above 3000 feet, they do very well growing naturally. However, they are usually not found in the northern states due to the cold winters found there.

Toxic Plant Components

The toxic culprit in this plant is the leaves and nectar.

Toxicity Cause and Symptoms

The toxin in this plant are grayanotoxins, which modify the sodium channels in cells. This causes problems with excitation of cells.

Symptoms of azalea poisoning include:

  • Excessive salivation, usually green and frothy
  • Muscular weakness
  • Slow heartrate
  • Vision problems
  • Colic
  • Gastrointestinal problems

If left untreated, poisoning by this plant can cause death within a few days.

Cure and Treatment

Detoxification is the main treatment, often used with supportive therapy as well. Respiratory therapy may be needed in some cases, as well as IV fluids.

Return to Poisonous Plants from Azaleas
Return to UHN Home