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Safe Herbs

The following list gives you a first glimpse about herbs suitable for degus. If you have any question or need more detailled information please ask in the degus international forum or deguworld forum.

The following list gives you an impression about the diversity of plants that might be suitable degu food. Not all species are checked in the current version of this list, but it should give you an impression of what you can test. Experience about favour of the degus have to be experienced and shared. Please join us and share your experiences. It helps enhancing this list.

How to read this list?

This herb list uses the following structure:

  • Order: Family
    • English plant name (german name)
      (scientific name)

For German names indicated with a star (*) evidently a proper German name don't exist. Thus I derived it from the English or botanical name.

Suitable North American Herbs

The North American weed flora shares many species with the European flora. There is a given exchange of common plant species in both directions as well as the northern hemisphere flora shares also species conserved independently after the isolation of the two continents.

The (fresh) leaves and branches of the following plants are safe and can be introduced gradually:

  • Equisetales: Equisetaceae (horsetails)
    • field horsetail (ger. Acker-Schachtelhalm)
      (Equisetum arvense) - Origin: North America, Asia, Europe.
  • Poales: Poaceae (true grasses)
    Many American grasses are introduced from Europe. Grasses in general are suitable food.
    • quack grass (ger. Quecke)
      (Elymus repens, syn. Agropyron repens) - Origin: Europe.
    • rye grass (ger. Weidelgras)
      (Lolium multiflorum, L. perenne, L. persicum, L. temulentum) - Origin: Asia, Europe.
    • foxtail barley (ger. Mähnengerste)
      (Hordeum jubatum) - Origin: Western North America.
    • smooth crab grass (ger. Faden-Fingerhirse)
      (Digitaria ischaemum) - Origin: Asia, Europe.
    • witch grass (ger. Haarästige Rispenhirse)
      (Panicum capillare) - Origin: North America; common southern Quebec.
    • cockspur or barnyard grass (ger. Hühnerhirse)
      (Echinochloa crus-galli) - Origin: Europe.
    • green foxtail (ger. Grüne Borstenhirse)
      (Setaria viridis) - Origin: Europe, pest in western Canada.
  • Caryophyllales: Polygonaceae (buckwheat family)
    • curled dock (ger. Krauser Ampfer)
      (Rumex crispus) - Origin: Asia, Europe.
    • field sorrel (ger. Kleiner Sauerampfer)
      (Rumex acetosella) - Origin: Asia, Europe, common in Eastern Canada.
    • prostrate knotweed (ger. Vogelknöterich)
      (Polygonum aviculare) - Origin: Asia, Europe.
    • green smartweed (ger. Ampfer-Knöterich)
      (Persicaria lapathifolia, syn. Polygonum scabrum) - Origin: Europe, common in Canada, especially in Maritime Provinces.
    • wild buckwheat (ger. Windenknöterich)
      (Fallopia convolvulus, syn. Polygonum convolvulus) - Origin: Asia, Europe, North Africa.
    • tartary buckwheat (ger. Tataren-Buchweizen)
      (Fagopyrum tataricum) - Origin: Asia, Europe, common in Eastern Canada, usage as crop plant.
  • Caryophyllales: Amaranthaceae (amaranth family)
    • white goosefoot (ger. Weisser Gänsefuss)
      (Chenopodium album) - Origin: Europe, one of the most abundant weeds in Canada; good degu food.
    • Russian pigweed (ger. Russischer Gänsefuss*)
      (Axyris amaranthoides) - Origin: Asia (Russia, Siberia), abundant in Canadas Prairie Provinces.
    • redroot pigweed (ger. Zurückgebogener Amarant)
      (Amaranthus retroflexus) - Origin: native to North America, widely distributed around the world: Europe, Asia, Siberia, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand; good degu food.
  • Caryophyllales: Portulacaceae (purslane family)
    • purslane (ger. Portulak)
      (Portulaca oleracea) - Origin: Asia, Europe, cosmopolitan weed, good degu food.
  • Caryophyllales: Caryophyllaceae (pink family)
    • corn spurry (ger. Acker-Spergel)
      (Spergula arvensis) - Origin: probably Europe, common in Quebec and British Columbia, considered as edible plant.
    • chickweed (ger. Vogelmiere)
      (Stellaria media) - Origin: Europe, cosmopolitan weed, good degu food.
    • mouse-ear chickweed (ger. Quellen-Hornkraut)
      (Cerastium fontanum) - Origin: Europe, abundant in America on the Pacific Coast and east of the Great Lakes.
    • white cockle (ger. Weisse Lichtnelke)
      (Silene latifolia alba, syn. Lychnis alba) - Origin: Europe.
    • bladder campion (ger. Gewöhnliches Leimkraut)
      (Silene vulgaris, syn. S. cucubalus) - Origin: Asia, Europe.
    • cow cockle (ger. Saat-Kuhnelke)
      (Vaccaria hispanica, syn. Saponaria vaccaria) - Origin: Asia, Europe, common in the Prairie Provinces of Canada.
  • Brassicales: Brassicaceae (mustard family)
    This family contains many crop plants and many plants are suitable food.
    • common pepper-grass (ger. Dichtblütige Kresse)
      (Lepidium densiflorum) - Origin: native to North America.
    • poor mans pepper-grass (ger. Virginische Kresse)
      (Lepidium virginicum) - Origin: native to North America.
    • field pepper-grass (ger. Feld-Kresse)
      (Lepidium campestre) - Origin: Europe.
    • clasping-leaved pepper-grass (ger. Durchwachsenblättrige Kresse)
      (Lepidium perfoliatum) - Origin: Europe.
    • shepherd's purse (ger. Gewöhnliches Hirtentäschel)
      (Capsella bursa-pastoris) - Origin: Europe, cosmopolitan weed, good degu food.
    • wild radish (ger. Acker-Rettich)
      (Raphanus raphanistrum) - Origin: Asia, abundant in all Atlantic provinces of Canada, cosmopolitan weed.
    • wild mustard (ger. Acker-Senf)
      (Sinapis arvensis) - Origin: Asia, Europe, very common weed in Canada.
  • Rosales: Rosaceae (rose family)
    The rose family contains many excellent fodder plants.
    • rough cinquefoil (ger. Norwegisches Fingerkraut)
      (Potentilla norvegica) - Origin: native to North America and Europe.
    • silvery cinquefoil (ger. Silber-Fingerkraut)
      (Potentilla argentea) - Origin: Europe, aggressive pasture weed.
    • sulfur cinquefoil (ger. Aufrechtes Fingerkraut)
      (Potentilla recta) - Origin: Europe.
  • Fabales: Fabaceae (pulse family)
    • vetch (ger. Wicken)
      (Vicia spp.) - Origin: Europe.
    • tufted vetch (ger. Vogel-Wicke)
      (Vicia cracca) - Origin: Europe, very common in Eastern Canada.
  • Malvales: Malvaceae (mallow family)
    • common mallow (ger. Weg-Malve)
      (Malva neglecta) - Origin: Europe, most common in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, good degu food.
  • Myrtales: Onagraceae (evening-primerose family)
    • yellow evening-primerose (ger. Gemeine Nachtkerze)
      (Oenothera biennis) - Origin: North America, introduced and established in Europe and Asia, good degu food (especially the flowers).
    • white evening-primerose (ger. Nuttall-Nachtkerze*)
      (Anogra nuttallii, syn. Oenothera nuttallii) - Origin: North America, common in western Provinces of Canada.
  • Apiales: Apiaceae (parsley family)
    This familiy contains some important edible plants but also several toxic species.
    • wild carrot (ger. Wilde Möhre)
      (Daucus carota) - Origin: Asia, Europe.
    • wild parsnip (ger. Pastinake)
      (Pastinaca sativa) - Origin: Europe.
  • Solanales: Convolvulaceae (morning-glory family)
    • field bindweed (ger. Ackerwinde)
      (Convolvulus arvensis) - Origin: Europe, cosmopolitan weed, good degu food.
  • Boraginales: Boraginaceae (borage family)
    • blueweed (ger. Gewöhnlicher Natternkopf)
      (Echium vulgaris) - Origin: Europe, abundant in Ontario and Quebec, considered as slightly toxic.
    • bluebur or European stickseed (ger. Kletten-Igelsame)
      (Lappula squarrosa, syn. L. echinata) - Origin: Europe, abundant especially in Western Canada. Seeds and roots of Lappula sp. (stickseed) are considered as edible.
  • Malpighiales: Hypericaceae (St. John's-wort family)
    • St. John's-wort (ger. Tüpfel-Johanniskraut)
      (Hypericum perforatum) - Origin: Europe, common in Eastern Canada, invasive weed
  • Lamiales: Lamiaceae (mint family)
    • ground ivy (ger. Gundermann)
      (Glechoma hederacea) - Origin: Asia, Europe, abundant especially in East-Canada, is not much liked as degu food
    • American dragonhead (ger. Amerikanischer Drachenkopf*)
      (Dracocephalum parviflorum) - Origin: native to North America, introduced to Europe, abundant in Prairie Provinces
    • hemp-nettle (ger. Gemeiner Hohlzahn)
      (Galeopsis tetrahit) - Origin: Asia, Europe
  • Lamiales: Plantaginaceae (Plantain family)
    • common toadflax (ger. Gemeines Leinkraut)
      (Linaria vulgaris) - Origin: Asia, Europe, very common in Eastern Canada
    • broad-leaved plantain (ger. Breitwegerich)
      (Plantago major) - Origin: Europe, cosmopolitan weed
    • English plantain or narrow-leaved plantain (ger. Spitzwegerich)
      (Plantago lanceolata) - Origin: Europe, considered as invasive weed in North America. Widespread in the Americas and Australia, is good for degus.
    • pale plantain (ger. Bleicher Wegerich*)
      (Plantago rugelii) - Origin: native to North America. It is similar to the broad-leaved plantain, but the leaves are paler green.
  • Asterales: Asteraceae (composite family)
    A very species rich family. Many species are native to North America, many others are introduced from Europe. This family contains many suitable fodder plants.
    • Canada fleabane (ger. Kanadisches Berufkraut)
      (Conyza canadensis) - Origin: native to North America, comopolitan weed
    • Philadelphia fleabane (ger. Philadelphia-Berufkraut*)
      (Erigeron philadelphicus) - Origin: North America
    • annual fleabane (ger. Einjähriges Berufkraut)
      (Erigeron annuus) - Origin: North America, is good degu food
    • rough fleabane (ger. Prärie-Berufkraut*)
      (Erigeron strigosus) - Origin: North America
    • Canada goldenrod (ger. Kanadische Goldrute)
      (Solidago canadensis) - Origin: North America
    • povertyweed (ger. Schlagkraut)
      (Iva axillaris) - Origin: Western North America, was introduced in Australia, has a creeping woodstock
    • false ragweed (ger. Spitzkletten-Rispenkraut)
      (Iva xanthifolia) - Origin: Native in the western prairies
    • hairy Galinsoga or quick-weed (ger. behaartes Knopfkraut)
      (Galinsoga quadriradiata, syn. G. ciliata) - Origin: Introduced from tropical South America, most abundant in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbias, is good degu food.
    • milfoil (ger. Gemeine Schafsgarbe)
      (Achillea millefolium) - Origin: Canadian species are native to North America, only a form with deep-purple flowers is of European origin and escaped from gardens.
    • scentless mayweed (ger. Geruchlose Strandkamille)
      (Tripleurospermum inodorum, syn. Matricaria perforata) - Origin: Asia, Europe, North Africa, common in Quebec, Maritime Provinces and Prairie Provinces of Canada.
    • wild chamomile (ger. Echte Kamille)
      (Matricaria chamomilla) - Origin: Europe
    • ox-eye daisy (ger. Wiesen-Margerite)
      (Leucanthemum vulgare, syn. Chrysanthemum leucanthemum) - Origin: Europe, abundant in Eastern Canada
    • spotted knapweed (ger. Gefleckte Flockenblume)
      (Centaurea maculosa) - Origin: eastern Europe
    • brown knapweed (ger. Wiesen-Flockenblume)
      (Centaurea jacea) - Origin: Asia, Europe
    • chicory (ger. Gemeine Wegwarte)
      (Cichorium intybus) - Origin: western Asia, Europe, North Africa, abundant in eastern Canada
    • fall hawkbit (ger. Herbstlöwenzahn)
      (Leontodon autumnalis) - Origin: Asia, Europe, North Africa
    • meadow goat's-beard (ger. Wiesenbocksbart)
      (Tragopogon pratensis) - Origin: Europe, common in Eastern Canada
    • perennial sow-thistle (ger. Acker-Gänsedistel)
      (Sonchus arvensis) - Origin: Western Asia, Europe, introduced in Asia, Africa, Australia, America, a common weed in Canada (see also: US Forest Services), good degu food.
    • spiny annual sow-thistle (ger. Raue Gänsedistel)
      (Sonchus asper) - Origin: Europe, abundant in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia
    • blue lettuce (ger. Blauer Lattich)
      (Lactuca pulchella) - Origin: western North America, introduced to Europe (Sweden)
    • narrow leaved hawk's-beard (ger. Dach-Pippau)
      (Crepis tectorum) - Origin: Asia, Europe, but it is also considered to be native to some parts of North America. Common wead in Canada..
    • orange hawkweed (ger. Orangerotes Habichtskraut)
      (Hieracium aurantiacum) - Origin: Europe, very abundant in Ontario and Quebec

Problematic North American Herbs

The following herbs are supposed as problematic and probably need a careful usage. Thus they are intended for experienced degu keepers.

  • Asterales: Asteraceae (composite family)
    A very species rich family. Many species are native to North America, many others are introduced from Europe. This family contains many suitable fodder plants.
    • common ragweed (ger. Beifuss-Ambrosie)
      (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) - Origin: Native to North America, pollen can cause allergic reactions also for non allergic people / people do not suffer from hay feaver.
    • giant ragweed (ger. dreilappige Ambrosie)
      (Ambrosia trifida) - Origin: Native to North America, has much less importance as a hay feaver plant than the common ragweed.
    • absinthe (ger. Wermut)
      (Artemisia absinthium) - Origin: Asia, Europe, northern Africa
    • tansy ragwort (ger. Jakobskreuzkraut)
      (Jacobaea vulgaris, syn. Senecio jacobaea) - Origin: Asia, Europe, is considered as toxic, but it seems that herbivores like degus can much better deal with this plant than other animal species.
    • common groundsel (ger. Gemeines Kreuzkraut)
      (Senecio vulgaris) - Origin: Europe, cosmopolitan weed, is considered as slightly toxic

Little Known American Herbs

The following woods are partially in usage, but it lacks experience. Degu owner having the opportunity to test this plants are requested to share their experiences in the deguworld forum or to write me an e-mail.

  • Comming soon...
  • common name (scientific name)
    Opinion: [here impression and meaning]

Resouces

Please note that the following databases do not distinguish if a given plant is suitable for animals/humans (and also degus) or not. Thus you have to check this separately.

Edible plants:

References

  • Duke, J.A. (1992): Handbook of Edible Weeds. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida. 246 pp.
  • Frankton, C. Mulligan, G.A. (1987): Weeds of Canada. NC Press, Toronto. 217 pp.
  • Hofmeister, H. Garve, E. (1986): Lebensraum Acker. Pflanzen der Äcker und ihre Ökologie. Paul Parey, Hamburg, Berlin. 272 pp.
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