GANSKWEEK (Lasiospermum bipinnatum)
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Thursday, 21st April 2016

GANSKWEEK (Lasiospermum bipinnatum)

‘Ganskweek’ poisoning cases in Angora goats in the Eastern Cape are uncommon. Cases have occurred in Post Retief (Emslie family farm) where deaths have occurred in adult goats diagnosed by Dr Steve Cockcroft.

Poisoning in cattle has been reported in Graaff-Reinet, Molteno and Bethlehem districts.

The liver and respiratory systems are primarily affected by the poison with a toxic principle a furanosesquiterpenoid.

Under what conditions did the Angora goat poisoning occur

The plant ‘Ganskweek’ is abundant in late winter and spring when grazing is sparse.

Mr Norman Emslie noted:

  • The Angora goat poisoning occurred with the first flush of green in early spring or even late winter. The goats, due to the dormant winter, end up eating the green Ganskweek.
  • The Angora goat being a browser seems to be more susceptible because the ganskweek seems to be protected from the frost in the deeper wooded areas.
  • Poisoning also occurred on the lands as the plants became present on the ridges. By the time the plants are noticeable they are less palatable and therefore less of a problem.
  • The Angoras seem to avoid the mature plants and the smaller emerging plants seem to be more toxic.

Whether the goats will get to know it and avoid it as with cattle, only time will tell. The goats were relatively new to the area. 


‘Ganskweek’ Lasiospermum bipinnatum

Ganskweek is a soft herbaceous plant about 40cm high. It has a  stout woody rhizome with numerous stems.  Leaves are alternate, crowded at the base. 

Flowers are yellow disc florets. White to pale purplish pink ray florets. Flowers whenever it rains

 Seed: A round woolly puffball seed head. Seeds are woolly.



Grows everywhere, but especially in vleis.

Found in the Western Cape around Boland, Eastern Cape, Karoo, Free State, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. Not found in Kwazulu – Natal.

 Clinical signs of poisoning:

Signs may appear 3 days after being introduced into a camp with ‘Ganskweek’.

About 5% of the Angora flock were affected and died within 2 days.

  • Icterus,
  • Secondary photosensitivity
  • Colic
  • Rumen stasis, constipation, tenesmus
  • Diarrhoea was noted in the Angora goat
  • Dyspnoea and “lugdikkop”
  • Foam at nose, marked inspiration and expiration.
  • In cattle also seen nervous symptoms (intractability, wildness, aggressiveness) and melaena

Mr Norman noted that if a fatal dose was not taken in the goats did recover but generally gradually deteriorated and succumbed to a cold snap (likely due to long term liver damage).

Experimental poisoning in sheep caused deaths within 5 days and caused photosensitivity.


Post Mortem findings: 

  • Icterus
  • Liver is swollen and yellowish-brown and friable
  • Haemorrhagic tendencies
  • Accentuated lobulation (dark red zones in most gives a mosaic appearance).
  • Gall bladder oedema.


Treatment post poisoning

  • Remove from camp and if possible place in shed or in deep shade with food and water.
  • Dose/tube activated charcoal (2g/kg)
  • Corticosteroids, Pain relief
  • Topical sprays to phostosensitive areas, sunblock for valuable animals
  • Liver support (vit B)
  • Covering antibiotic if skin sluffing areas become secondarily infected



Botha, C.J. (Christoffel Jacobus); Venter, Elna; University of Pretoria. Faculty of Veterinary Science. Dept. of Paraclinical Sciences. Section Pharmacology and Toxicology

J S Afr Vet Assoc. 1994 Sep;65(3):122-4.

D.J. Thornton

Plant Poisonings and Mycotoxicosis (Kellerman, Coetzer,Naude)

Norman Emslie (Post Retief)


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