Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 1697–1705

Ingestion of tall larkspur by cattle

Separating effects of flavor from postingestive consequences
  • J. A. Pfister
  • F. D. Provenza
  • G. D. Manners

DOI: 10.1007/BF01014101

Cite this article as:
Pfister, J.A., Provenza, F.D. & Manners, G.D. J Chem Ecol (1990) 16: 1697. doi:10.1007/BF01014101


Tall larkspur (Delphinium spp.) is a palatable but toxic poisonous plant in the western United States. The toxins in tall larkspur are diterpenoid alkaloids. We examined the influences of food flavor and postingestive consequences on consumption of a 33% larkspur pellet during 30-min feeding periods for five days using esophageally fistulated cattle that were sham-fed larkspur pellets. Consumption by the sham-fed group was compared to a control group fed alfalfa pellets, and a larkspur group fed only larkspur pellets. Sham-fed cattle did not decrease (P > 0.1) feed consumption compared to controls, indicating no significant difference in food flavor. The larkspur group decreased (P < 0.05) feed consumption by 41% relative to controls and by 31% relative to sham-fed animals (P = 0.08). This reduction in feed consumption indicates the adverse postingestive consequences of tall larkspur ingestion, as the larkspur group apparently developed a conditioned taste aversion to the larkspur pellet. Even though these animals were averted to the pellets, they showed none of the classical signs of intoxication from ingestion of tall larkspur.

Key Words

Feeding behavioralkaloidspalatabilityconditioned taste aversioncattlepoisonous plantstall larkspurDelphinium barbeyi

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. Pfister
    • 1
  • F. D. Provenza
    • 2
  • G. D. Manners
    • 3
  1. 1.USDA-ARS Poisonous Plant LaboratoryUSA
  2. 2.Department of Range ScienceUtah State UniversityLogon
  3. 3.USDA-ARS Western Regional Research CenterAlbany