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Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

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BRIEF: Are Hibiscus poisonous to horses?


QUESTION:
Are Hibiscus poisonous to horses?

ANSWER:

I don't think so. Although it is in the same family as cotton, velvetweed and hollyhock, all of which have toxic components associated with them, hibiscus is usually considered relatively not toxic, and the flowers have been used in human drink concoctions. You should be cautious however and be alert to any problems, because members of this family often have cyclopropanoids in the seeds and cotton has the special toxin gossypol that at high levels can cause male infertility and heart and pulmonary disease at very high levels. If you are talking about a horse occasionally grabbing a nibble of a hibiscus, I can't see a problem. If the horses will be browsing down many pounds of the stuff, then it might warrent a closer look. It could be that we have no written records of poisoning because no animals or people ever ate enough to discover a toxin!