Purple Passion (Gynura aurantiaca)

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CritterMama
Posts: 14
Joined: 21 Mar 2021, 13:43

Purple Passion (Gynura aurantiaca)

Post by CritterMama » 12 May 2021, 13:25

I'm getting plants ready to put in the indoor enclosure for my Hermann's hatchling. I'd like to include a Purple Passion, but can't find a for-sure answer on whether that would be OK. Ideally, I'd like to give him the flowers (there are always lots) and let him munch on the leaves if he wants to. Not getting a warm-and-fuzzy feeling about this warm-and-fuzzy plant.

Got any thoughts? Experience? Thank you! :D

Here's what I have so far:
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe: Senecioneae (Groundsel)
Genus: Gynura
Species: G. aurantiaca

Tortoise Table search (link below) lists Groundsel and Ragwort. They are in the Senecio genus (not Gynura) and are marked DO NOT FEED. The Tortoise Trust lists it as "non-toxic". Botany in a Day (my new favorite book! :geek: ) p. 170 says large amounts of plants in the Senecio Tribe may have laxative properties.


Search link: https://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/pla ... &x=12&y=14
Wiki link (includes photo): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gynura_aurantiaca
TTT link: https://www.tortoisetrust.org/articles/houseplants.htm
Botany Book link: http://www.wildflowers-and-weeds.com/Pl ... wnload.htm
Critter Mama

One Husband, one Bearded Dragon, one Panther Chameleon, one Labrador Retriever. Next up? One Hermann's Tortoise!

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Nina
Posts: 1494
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Purple Passion (Gynura aurantiaca)

Post by Nina » 12 May 2021, 18:51

Hi CritterMama,

Well done for doing your research on this plant!

I have no personal experience with Gynura aurantiaca but have had a good look at the scientific literature and I can't find an indication of any toxicity. There are some species of Gynura that have tannins and some with other anti-nutritional properties, but Gynura aurantiaca is listed on most of the lists I can find (including the ASPCA list of plants) as being safe. Of course this means safe for cats and dogs, and although there are a few plants that are safe for cats and dogs but toxic to tortoises, there are many more that are toxic to cats and dogs but safe for tortoises. So I think you are probably safe in feeding this, and the fact that the Tortoise Trust list it as safe just adds to my confidence in saying that. I would feed it in moderation, or sparingly -- just to be on the safe side if you're feeling a bit unsure about it.

Sometimes if you put the Latin name + 'toxic' into Google (so 'Gynura aurantica, toxic') you will see published scientific articles where they have assessed the chemical properties of plants and this can be very useful in doing research. I also find that putting in the name of the plant, plus a word that we know denotes toxicity -- like 'oxalate', 'oxalic', 'tannins', 'saponins', 'coumarins' etc. will also bring up results of scientific analyses. These articles can be long, and sometimes difficult to read, and of course they won't mention tortoises (well, maybe rarely), but they will tell you the properties of the plant and then you can decide how safe that might be for your tortoise.

And the environment that a plant grows in can make a difference. For example, some plants are know to readily absorb things like nitrates or heavy metals from the soil. In the case of plants which would otherwise be safe, we advise people not to feed a plant that soaks up nitrates if it is growing on fertilized soil, and not to feed a plant that soaks up heavy metals if it is growing on contaminated soil. So I guess what I am saying is that researching the toxicity of plants can be really interesting although not always straightforward, but I am so glad that you are undertaking research and thanks so much for sharing those links with us.

Nina

CritterMama
Posts: 14
Joined: 21 Mar 2021, 13:43

Re: Purple Passion (Gynura aurantiaca)

Post by CritterMama » 13 May 2021, 16:53

Nina wrote:
> Sometimes if you put the Latin name + 'toxic' into Google (so 'Gynura
> aurantica, toxic') you will see published scientific articles where they
> have assessed the chemical properties of plants and this can be very useful
> in doing research. I also find that putting in the name of the plant, plus
> a word that we know denotes toxicity -- like 'oxalate', 'oxalic',
> 'tannins', 'saponins', 'coumarins' etc. will also bring up results of
> scientific analyses.
>
Thank you, Nina. I like the Google search recommendation - that's very helpful. My OCD is showing :roll: and I've been putting together my own spreadsheet to take with me to the garden stores and shopping for seeds online. Mostly, I'm going to try sticking to my own yard (no fertilizers or pesticides for over 30 years, so lots of dandelions and clover!), or else safe houseplants that I've had indoors (I never put them outside or even open a window near them because scales always, always, always find them!), or else herbs and such grown from seed.

At the bottom is a picture of part of the Nursery! Bottom tray - zinnias, top left - johnny-jump-ups (Viola), top right - marigolds (Calendula). Off to the right is my Croton who is not at all happy with things getting moved around so much ("I just want to sit here! If you don't stop adjusting me, I'm gonna drop even more leaves!" 😉)

Here is a picture of a bloom from the Gynura aurantiaca that we discussed above. Same Family (Asteraceae) as dandelions - kinda looks like a dandelion. I sure hopes he likes them, because they smell awful and I usually snip them before they get this far! 😆

The adventure continues!
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Purple Passion - unfurled.JPG
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Critter Mama

One Husband, one Bearded Dragon, one Panther Chameleon, one Labrador Retriever. Next up? One Hermann's Tortoise!

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Nina
Posts: 1494
Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: Purple Passion (Gynura aurantiaca)

Post by Nina » 13 May 2021, 17:34

I read that the Gynura has an unpleasant smell, but haven't encountered one in person yet. The Asteraceae family is a huge plant family, with 25,000 species in it, and some plants in it are edible and some aren't. If you type Asteraceae into the search box on our website database you'll see a range of results with edibility ranging from very edible to 'not to feed' or toxic, so you can never tell.

Wow, your nursery looks great -- this little tortoise is going to have a feast! One thing that I've done in the past is to grow weeds in small shallow plastic trays (like 5" x 7" or thereabouts) and sow a series of these trays in succession, every two or three weeks. When the plants in one tray are ready, you can put that tray in the tortoise table and let him nibble to his heart's content and then when he has demolished all of those plants the next tray will be ready.

It sounds like you have an ideal area for him, and you could even try to institute a weed patch in your yard where he might be able to graze on them at will when he's outdoors.

I meant to ask -- did you decide to adopt a tortoise from either of those rescue organisations that I sent you links to?

Also, while I was just searching for something now, I found a post from you about table design that I never answered! So sorry about that, but for some reason the system occasionally doesn't notify us when a new post comes in. It was about height of the walls, etc. I would make the walls 10" or so high (or higher if you like), but if you put a lip around the top of the walls, just facing inwards a bit (so, say, a quarter of an inch, or half an inch protrudes into the table), then the tortoise won't be able to climb out and the walls don't have to be quite so high. Regarding the height of the second level, which makes the roof of the sleeping area, again, just make it an inch or two higher than the tortoise will be when he is grown, but tortoises have such a variation in height that it's hard to give you a figure. But you've probably finished the table by now and I do apoligise for not having answered at the time.

Best,
Nina

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