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"Poisonous" does not mean deadly. Some manifestations of toxicity are subtle. The dose, as always, determines if a plant is safe source of nutrients or a toxic hazard.

Beta-carbolines are a class of indole alkaloids compounds comprised of the tricyclic pyrido (3,4) indol ring system with alkyl C1 constituents.


This group of indole alkaloids are of widespread distribution being found in 23 angiosperm plant families, 3 fungi genera, and in a variety of animal tissues[1]. In addition, beta-carbolines can be found in tobacco smoke [2], marijuana smoke [3], and in charred food stuffs [4].

The beta-carbolines do not represent a significant poisoning hazard to livestock due to their very low concentrations. None-the-less, these toxicants are interesting from a chemical perspective in terms of structure-activity relationships. Some of their more interesting aspects are as follows: