Story: Poisonous plants and fungi

Sheep with ryegrass staggers

Ryegrass staggers is a seasonal problem of sheep, cattle and horses that feed on overgrazed ryegrass pastures. A fungus (Neotyphodium lolii) that grows between the plant cells of ryegrass produces a poison that affects the nervous system of stock. The sheep in this video clip is severely afflicted, walking with a stiff gait and collapsing with spasms when disturbed. In the early 1980s Lester Fletcher, the scientist being interviewed, discovered the link between ryegrass staggers and the fungus.

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How to cite this page:

Maggy Wassilieff, 'Poisonous plants and fungi - Poisonous fungi', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 16 April 2024)

Story by Maggy Wassilieff, published 24 Sep 2007