Are Buttercups Toxic To Horses? You Should Know! (Important Facts)

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 10/14/22 •  9 min read

Horses thrive in the wild on a diet of grass and other plants.

But the problem?

They can’t decide which is good for them and which isn’t. Some herbs contain elements that are poisonous to horse health, and Buttercup is one of them. 

So, are buttercups toxic to horses? 

Yes, buttercups are extremely toxic to horses and other livestock. They contain a poisonous element, namely ranunculin, which will create blisters inside the mouth. After having some buttercup leaves and flowers, they will have blisters, skin problems, colic, diarrhea, and vomiting. 

Today, we will talk about how poisonous, the side effects on horses and the symptoms of Buttercup poisoning, and most importantly, how to get rid of buttercups in the horse pasture. 

Let’s begin the journey!

The types of buttercups and their toxicity levels

Buttercups belong to the Ranunculus family and could be annual, biennial, or perennial. They grow with yellow flowers having some beautiful leaves. However, nowadays they grow everywhere as garden or field weeds. 

So what’s the origin of this wildflower?

In North America, you will find more than 400+ species of ranunculus. Among them, the buttercup is one. These herbs also have different types with different names. Interestingly, all these herbs are toxic to both humans and livestock.

Here are the top 4 types, which are famous for their harmful elements for horses. They are: 

Can Be Toxic to Horses

How to identify toxic buttercups?

Ranunculus repens, Ranunculus acris and Ranunculus sceleratus species are the most often seen types that are poisonous to horses.

These species of buttercups can be identified by their bright yellow flowers and their long, thin stems. Additionally, the leaves of these species of buttercups are usually divided into three leaflets.

The distinction between toxic and non-toxic buttercup species must be made since not all buttercups are poisonous to horses.

Can Buttercup burn horses? What part of buttercup is harmful to horses?

Yes, the buttercups can burn horses severely if they graze too much of this toxic leaves and stems. 

As we mentioned earlier…..

This plant contains the toxic element ranunculin, which creates the blistering element protoanemonin. If your horse chews the buttercup leaves for a long, this element will come off as oil. Eventually, it will burn your horse after a few days or damage the lips inside the mouth within a short time.

Beyond that……..

Usually, this happens when your horse doesn’t find anything else to graze and eats the buttercup leaves for a week or so. In that case, it can also damage the horse’s skin, mouth, and other parts. 

Ok, I know what you are thinking – Are all parts harmful?

Well, although this entire herb is a toxic plant, it has two crucial or most dangerous parts: 

These two contain the most toxic elements that damage your horse’s health. If your horse eats the entire plant and stems, it will suffer from allergies, burning, and blistering problems.

So the moral of the story?

Almost every part of the buttercup is toxic to horses. If they eat any of these parts, they will surely be sick and suffer from blistering problems. So, it’s better to protect your pony from grazing on the field where the buttercups grow.

See also: Did you know that horses can eat pickles? It’s true! In fact, horses love pickles and they are a healthy snack for them.


Buttercup poisoning: What happens if my horse eats buttercups?

Buttercup poisoning refers to the cursed effect of this herb. What are the symptoms of eating buttercups?

See also: Horses are usually very careful about what they eat, but have you ever wondered what would happen if they ate something like gummy bears?

Treatment for buttercup poisoning in horses: How do you treat buttercup poisoning in horses?

Before explaining all the treatments, I’d recommend consulting with a veterinarian. 

Let’s get through some common treatments.

Should you mow buttercups in horse pasture?

Yes, for safety- it’s a must.

Not only this one, but you also remove all the poisonous treats. Mowing is the best option to remove the buttercups, although it may remove some necessary grass. Still, if you use a manual mower, you can eliminate the buttercups if you have many.

Sometimes you may find a particular area where these buttercups grow. 

In that case, you may bring your lawn mower and start mowing carefully. You need to identify where they grow most; then, you should mow that entire area.

If you find a field full of buttercups, you should mow the entire field to get quality grass for your horses. Otherwise, the seed will be mixed up and will eventually mix up with other pastures.

Should you mow buttercups in horse pasture?

How do you get Buttercup out of horse pasture?

Broadleaf herbicides are the most popular method to eliminate buttercups. 

This controller comes with MCPA ingredients which are fruitful in removing or eliminating without damaging the horse pasture. You should use this herbs controller carefully and only spray on buttercups.

What else?

Another controller might be the Metsulfuron which can also damage the growth and eliminate the buttercups. It can damage the natural growth of your horse’s pasture or healthy grass. So, it would help if you avoided it or used it only on buttercups rather than spraying the entire field or garden.

Another ingredient is Glyphosate which can also eliminate buttercups and other herbs. You may buy a pest or herb controller containing glyphosate to get buttercup out of your horse pasture.

See also: Did you know that horses are actually capable of digesting chicken? It’s true! The myth is that horses can’t eat chicken.

In summary……..

Horses or other livestock tend to not eat buttercups if they have other food or grazing options. So make sure that you are providing your ponies with sufficient food.

But what we always say is that prevention is better than cure.

You should check your field or horse pastures to see if there is any buttercup growing. Use the herbs controller if you find any toxic herbs, and try to protect your horse from the toxic elements.

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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