Mother-of millions (Bryophyllum spp.) is a native plant of Madagascar. Its beautiful flowers have made it a popular garden plant in eastern Australia, especially in the drier, inland areas. Unfortunately, mother-of-millions is highly toxic to stock!
The plant's ability to reproduce in such large numbers and to withstand droughts explains why it has escaped from gardens and rubbish tips to become a serious problem in many rural areas. [Photo, above left - shows how mother-of-millions can take over in rural areas - next to Bruxner Highway between Bonshaw and Yetman NSW - click on photo for larger view]
Mother-of millions is well named. Each plant produces thousands of plantlets which detach to form new plants. This close-up photo [left] of an actively-growing young plant shows the reproductive potential of a just one plant. A succulent, and drought-tolerant, most of these plant parts will survive.
EFFECT ON ANIMALS
Greatest risk is when the plant is in flower, and especially during dry times when feed is scarce. And, when cattle are stressed or in unfamiliar territory (eg a new paddock) they are more likely to try plants they wouldn’t normally touch.
To quote from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries & Fisheries Fact Sheet [P33 Mar 00] on mother-of-millions, “POISONING SYMPTOMS in cattle include signs of dullness, loss of appetite, diarrhea and heart failure. There are two responses to poisoning; acute, where cattle die within a day, and chronic, where cattle may take up to 5 days to die. Cattle can slowly recover if insufficient plant material was eaten. VET'S TREATMENT OF POISONED STOCK must occur within 24 hours of plant material consumption. The treatment is intense and needs to be given by or under the direction of a veterinarian.”
PLEASE NOTE that there other cacti-type plants with flowers similar to mother-of-millions. Most of these other cacti-type plants don't have stems like mother-of-millions, which are generally about the same thickness from top to bottom. Also, mother-of-millions plants don't have large, flat, serrated “leaves” at the base of the plant as does, for example, Cotyledon orbicularis (photo, right). Be aware that these other look-alikes may still be toxic to animals – the best advice is to avoid all risk!
IMPORTANT: USE OF PESTICIDES – ALWAYS READ THE LABEL
Pesticides must only be used for the purpose for which they are registered and must not be used in any other situation or in any manner contrary to the directions on the label. Never use a herbicide in any way contrary to the label recommendations.
The information contained in this web site is based on knowledge and
understanding at the time of writing. However, because of advances in knowledge,
users are reminded of the need to ensure that information upon which they rely
is up to date and to check currency of the information with the appropriate
officer of North West Weeds or the user’s independent adviser.