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Beware the White Snakeroot

White Snakeroot Flowers (Ageratina altissima) a common field wildflower, poisonous to livestock and humans who ingest the milk of livestock who have eaten this plant.

It might look like an innocent plant growing but it is deadly. It caused the death of the 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks. The plant becomes poisonous even when ingested by cows and drinking milk from such a cow who had grazed on this plant caused her death.

Snakeroot is a North American herb that has flat-topped clusters of small white flowers. I have seen similar plants but I don’t think they were snakeroot but who knows so everyone should be careful because they can grow anywhere.

The plant has toxic alcohol called tremetol. If livestock ingest it the poison can pass into both the meat and milk. Since farmers have become aware of this danger they have seen to it that the plant is removed from animal pastures. It is native to eastern and central North America.

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