The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management

Damage and control of major poisonous plants in the western grasslands of China – a review

Hao Lu A B , Shan Shan Wang A , Qi Wu Zhou A , Yi Nan Zhao A and Bao Yu Zhao A B

A College of Veterinary Medicine, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, Shaanxi, 712100, People’s Republic of China.

B Corresponding authors. Email:;

The Rangeland Journal 34(4) 329-339
Submitted: 5 June 2012  Accepted: 14 October 2012   Published: 17 December 2012


Desertification and degradation of pastures has occurred over the last 50 years on the western grasslands of China due to human factors including overgrazing, unsuccessful reclamation of land, loss of soil through inappropriate cultivation, mining, population growth, and natural factors including drought. This has led to a decrease in herbage mass and a reduction in carrying capacity, leading to a reduction in the sustainability of livestock systems. One of the effects of desertification and degradation has been an increase in the area of poisonous plants over this period and these plants now cover 20.5 m ha and are now a contributing factor and symptom of the degeneration of the grasslands. The main poisonous plants that threaten livestock production are locoweeds (Oxytropis and Astragalus species), Stellera chamaejasme, Achnaterum inebrian, Cynanchum komarovii and Aconitum carmichaeli. Based on an analysis of previous and current data, this review describes the distribution of these poisonous plants and their impact on livestock production and assesses the state of poisonous plants in the western grasslands are having on the sustainability of livestock production, and addresses the issues of integrated control measures and the development of appropriate livestock management systems that could be implemented.

Additional keywords: control measures, poisonous plants, western grasslands of China.


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