'MELKTOU' Sarcostemma viminale
By By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Thursday, 31st March 2016

‘MELKTOU’ Sarcostemma viminale

Angoras are affected during times of drought or grazing shortage. 

The Toxic principle is unknown but may be similar to the “cynanchosides”. The toxicity varies a lot and  it can actually be non-toxic at times. The toxin affects the NERVOUS SYSTEM


 ‘Melktou’ is a leafless succulent, vigorous climber (can be shrub-like) which grows in and over trees and other shrubs, sometimes smothering the supporting plant. Without support it forms a bush about 1m high. The lower part of the stem has a thick corky bark. The grey-green branches are pencil-shaped, usually ± 5 - 10 mm in diameter. White latex appears when the plant is damaged. It has no leaves.

Flowers are  star-shaped, creamy-white to yellow and sweet smelling. In clusters at the nodes.

The fruit resembles a pair of horns. The flat seeds have each a plume of stiff hairs.


Angoras will only eat any significant amount under times of nutritional stress. About 10g/kg (300g) would most likely kill an Angora goat.


Clinical signs

Nervous syndrome. Clinical signs first appear after about 4 hours and death within a day.

  • Muscle tremors and spasms
  • Hypersensitive
  • Walk with a stiff-legged, unco-ordinated gait
  • Lie down on their sides making galloping motions
  • Spasms and head is pulled back or down, back is arched and legs extended.
  • Rapid breathing and bloat may occur
  • Temperature is elevated

The clinical signs can be differentiated from ‘Krimpsiekte’ that tetanic seizures can occur which does not occur in ‘krimpsiekte’ which is primarily a paretic syndrome. Symtoms may at times may also be confused with Heartwater.

Post Mortem

  • Glucosuria
  • Post Mortem changes in the kidneys rapidly sets in (confuse with pulpy kidney)
  • Plant remnants in the rumen.




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

Plant Poisonings and Mycotoxicoses of Livestock in Southern Africa : Kellerman, Coetzer,naude

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