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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.


Indole alkaloids are derived from the amino acid tryptophan as can easily be discerned by comparing their nitrogen containing nucleus to the chemical structure of tryptophan.

Important classes of indole alkaloids include:

  1. the ergot alkaloids (ergotamine, ergocristine, etc.),
  2. the fescue alkaloids (ergovaline, ergosine,ergonine, lysergic acid amide),
  3. 3-methylindole (produced by rumen fermentation of tryptophan), and
  4. the beta-carbolines.

This series of web pages was created by an undergraduate student at Cornell University for the AS625 class. All comments and suggestions are welcome.

WARNING: These web pages are only meant to be informative. Neither Cornell University nor the author of this site endorse or recommend the use of these plants.