Boxwood? Toxic?

By | October 12, 2019

Story originally posted by: Michael Lowder, DVM, MS

Dr. Lowder,

I was recently informed that an ornamental bush I have on my property may be toxic to my horses. It is referred to by greenhouses and nurserys as a Boxwood. It is small, has round waxy leaves, and though it stays green all year here, It is not an evergreen.

is this a myth or a fact? Thank you!

Melissa Gray


The scientific name of the Boxwood plant is Buxus sempervirens. All parts of the boxwood plant contain toxic alkaloids. Although the plant is not very palatable, it is poisonous to horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, and camels.

Clinical signs in horses that may appear upon ingestion include gastroenteritis, colic, hemorrhagic diarrhea, and ultimately respiratory failure and death.

Dr. Lowder


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