Corn cockle ( Agrostemma githago) is a medium to tall biennial or annual wildflower with large pink to purple colored flowers. Each flower petal has two to three discontinuous black lines which come outward from the center. The leaves are pale green color, opposite, narrowly lanceolate, and held nearly upright against the stem that is covered with fine hairs. Corn cockle was originally native to Europe, but has been introduced to other regions worldwide, where it is considered a noxious weed that is known for invading crop fields, especially where corn and wheat grow.
All parts of corn cockle are poisonous to poultry, although the seeds contain the most toxins. The plant contains at least two toxic, saponin-like substances, githagin and agrostemmic acid. Eating 0.2 to 0.5% of a bird’s body weight of the corn cockle seed is lethal. Repeated consumption of small doses of corn cockle has also caused illness, which is referred to as githagism.
- rough feathering
- oral lesions
- decreased respiratory rate
- decreased heart rate
- caseous necrosis of crop pharyngeal mucosa and mouth
- NC State Extension Agrostemma githago Poisonous Plant Research Database (2018)
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