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Red Maple

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  • Red Maple

    I know that wilted red maple leaves are toxic to horses. Like, if a branch falls off a tree in the summer and the horses eat the leaves as they are in the process of wilting, the horse will get sick.

    Does anyone know whether the same thing is true for red maple leaves that have changed color and fallen off the tree in the fall? I can't seem to get a straight answer in any of my research.

    For what its worth, I have confirmed that fresh red maple leaves are not toxic, at least according to the extension articles I've read. So if a horse eats leaves directly off a tree, they're in the clear.
    Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.

  • #2
    https://www.extension.umn.edu/agricu...pasture/maple/

    When toxic: Ingestion of dried or wilted, but not fresh, maple leaves is associated with the toxicosis. Although dried leaves may remain toxic for 4 weeks, they are not generally believed to retain toxicity the following spring. Toxicosis normally occurs in the autumn when normal leaf fall occurs. Although studies indicate that leaves collected after September 15 are more toxic, the authors are aware of cases of toxicosis in horses due to wilted leaves after summer storms.

    Toxicity: Red cell damage has been reproduced in horses ingesting 1.5 to 3 pounds of dried leaves per 1,000 pounds of body weight.
    My barn/paddock is surrounded by maple trees and winds up covered in the fall, and the horses have never shown any interest in eating them (they do have netted hay available at all times though). They will eat fresh leaves they can reach off branches that overhang the paddock, but dried ones don't seem to have any appeal.

    I haven't identified whether they are true red maples or not, but per the article I posted there are other species of maple that are toxic--it sounds mainly that the red maple is the most studied.
    Last edited by Leather; Nov. 21, 2017, 10:04 AM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Leather View Post
      https://www.extension.umn.edu/agricu...pasture/maple/My barn/paddock is surrounded by maple trees and winds up covered in the fall, and the horses have never shown any interest in eating them.
      We have a similar situation. We have thousands of feet of fence line that separates wood from pasture. Red maples are everywhere. We've not had one case of toxicity. Ticks? Now that is another story.

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      • #4
        An interesting detail came up in a previous Red Maple discussion. The detail said Acer Rubrum, the Latin name for Red Maple, always has red-stemmed leaves. This appears to be factual in my checking of maple trees. This is an easy ID over trying to do leaf identifications in determining if "that" maple is dangerous to horses.

        I keep my eyes open here for maple sprouts and kill them as quick as I spot any. We have mostly old growth trees of oaks, hickory, ash. Makes maple spotting fairly easy on my property.

        After hearing about a nice young horse lost to eating Red Maple leaves, I don't want it around here! My horses are on good pasture, not limited in food intake, so they don't bother eating leaves. I am not going to obsess over any blown in leaves, you can't control everything. Just reducing my chances of problems by killing any maple sprouts at home. No leaves means no wilted ones or any fully dried ones to cause a problem.

        I have not heard of research on fully dried Red Maple leave effects on horses, but would be surprised to find there is nothing on it out there. Lots of horses, lots of Red Maples being planted to cause problems.

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        • #5
          I know there has been some in vitro work utilizing dried leaves. One of the compounds implicated is gallic acid, which, I believe, is present in dried leaves.
          "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

          ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

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          • #6
            It's true that the bright red leaf-stem makes identifying red maple easy in good weather, but, once the leaves fall the stems don't stay red. At least in my horrible, 3-types-of-maples forest. So, I blow them out -- but, I don't have much pasture and what I do have is fenced into a track system, so it's easily done from an ATV.

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