Jul. 3, 2019

purple locoweed, Oxytropis lambertii

"Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. From out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats . . ", of cattle crazed on locoweed? Kids in that era all watched and read lots of westerns. So we pretty much all knew about locoweed. It makes the livestock do crazy things! Now we can learn that there are hundreds of species, in two genera, Oxytropus and Astragalus. Some are a problem because they concentrate poisonous selenium from the soil. But mostly it's an associated fungus that produces a toxin. The Lone Ranger, whose opening phrase began this entry, may have ridden into the sunset (and that last movie was a traumatic trip for the older fans), but the weed is still with us. It remains a serious problem for cattle, sheep, horses (be careful, Silver!), and deer. For wildflower enthusiasts, it's always fun to see these purple flowers that age to such an interesting color. Showy locoweed could be ingested in AZ, CO, IA, KS, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NM, OK, SD, TX, UT, WY, BC, MB, and SK(V). Summit Co CO, 6/17/13.