The University of Arizona

Nutrient composition of whitetop.

M.L. McInnis, L.L. Larson, R.F. Miller

Abstract


Whitetop or heart-podded hoary cress (Cardaria draba (L.) Desv.) is an Eurasian native of the Cruciferae actively invading rangelands throughout western North America. The plant is reported to be unpalatable to livestock and contain potentially toxic glucosinolates. Practical experience indicates sheep consume whitetop during its early growth stages and cattle ingest large quantities of seedheads. Chemical analysis of whole plants from rosette to hard seed, respectively, indicated the following trends: crude protein (28.8 to 7.9%), neutral detergent fiber (13.1 to 52.8%), acid detergent fiber (12.0 to 41.8%), cellulose (9.9 to 32.1%), lignin (1.9 to 9.4%), ether extract (1.6 to 2.4%), in vitro organic matter digestibility (77.3 to 49.1%), digestible energy (2.9 to 1.8 Mcal/kg), and total glucosinolates (28.4 to 84.0 micromoles/g). Leaves were higher than stems in crude protein, ether extract, in vitro organic matter digestibility, and digestible energy. Analysis of 11 micro- and macroelements revealed sulfur (S) levels ranged from 0.73 to 2.69% and were therefore higher than the reported maximum tolerable level (0.4%). High S levels likely reflected the S moiety of glucosinolates and their hydrolysis products. Whitetop has some forage value, but until further research establishes the toxicity of this species to sheep and cattle, prudence suggests managers use caution when allowing animals to graze whitetop-infested rangelands by providing supplemental iodine, utilizing mature and nonlactating animals, and reducing opportunities for animals to consume the plant.

Keywords


Lepidium draba subsp. draba;glucosinolates;toxicity;nutrient content;poisonous weeds;pastures;sheep;cattle;in vitro digestibility;nutritive value;forage;chemical constituents of plants

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