Milkweed is a very common pasture plant. Elliptical shaped leave branch off of a central stem. When any part of the plant is torn it will ooze a white, sticky sap. The flowers grow in a ball shaped cluster and when in full bloom are a lavender color. The pods develop to about 3" and in fall split open to release brown seeds that float through the air on downy fibers. All parts of the plant are toxic. Living and dried plants (accidentally baled into hay) are toxic. Like most toxic plants horses will avoid milkweed unless they have no other food source.
Signs of milkweed poisoning are:
- loss of muscular control
- rapid and weak pulse
- respiratory paralysis
Milk weed poisoning is rarely fatal.
Resource: Ohio State University, Bulletin 762-00: Horse Nutrition, Poisonous Plants
If you suspect poisoning from any plant or substance call your veterinarian immediately.