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A dark green leafy-like plant that produces a dense, sticky resin. The resin is cannabis extract obtained from the flowers and leaves of the plant.Locoweed (also crazyweed and loco) is a common name in North America for any plant that produces swainsonine, a phytotoxin harmful to livestock. Worldwide, swainsonine is produced by a small number of species, most of them in three genera of the flowering plant family Fabaceae: Oxytropis and Astragalus in North America,Carod-Artal FJ (2003). "[Neurological syndromes linked with the intake of plants and fungi containing a toxic component (I). Neurotoxic syndromes caused by the ingestion of plants, seeds and fruits]". Revista de Neurología (in Spanish). 36 (9): 860–71. PMID 12717675. Retrieved 2009-05-13.
Perennial herbaceous plants with long tap root. Leaves are grouped basally 8-12inches long, odd-pinnate compound and covered with silvery hairs. The flowers are borne on a leafless stalk in a raceme. The flower is white, pea-like, with purple-tipped, pointed keel. The seed pods are erect, stalkless, with a short beak that splits open to release numerous smooth brown seeds. Seeds may remain viable in the soil for 50 years or more. Oxytropis lambertii, purple locoweed, is very similar in its habitat and distribution to white locoweed. It differs from white locoweed in that it has purple flowers, generally fewer and smaller leaves and tends to flower immediately after white locoweed is finishing blooming. In some areas the purple has cross polinated with the white loco forming colonies of plants with varying shades of flower color.
Swainsonine, an indolizidine alkaloid, is the toxic principle responsible for the pathological changes in body tissues that lead to the disease known as locoism. All parts of the toxic plants (seeds, flowers, foliage, and even pollen) contain some level of swainsonine, and it has been reported that dried plant stems retain sufficient swainsonine content to pose serious health risks even after a year or longer. There is a wide variety of swainsonine concentrations among all the different species and varieties of locoweeds, and this makes it difficult to ascribe any standard level of toxicity potential to a single species.Lambert crazyweed (or purple locoweed) (Figure 2-A) has basal, pinnate leaves that arise directly from the crown with an erect, raceme flowering seed head that starts to appear in May to early July and is pinkish-purple and sometimes more rose-colored. The plant has a silver-like, pubescent coloring and is the most common locoweed throughout the South Dakota prairies. (Source: extension.sdstate.edu)