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10 Toxic Plants that Could Harm Kids and Pets

Posted by Melisa on

It's a fact of life, some plants can kill you. And if you have pets, children or both, safety should be your top priority. You know how it is with kids or pets; endless exploration and adventuring ensue whenever they’re outside. This increases the risk of accidental poisoning.

We may not be able to protect our loved ones all the time but at least we could keep the garden 100% safe for playing or relaxing. Apart from never keeping your guard down whenever your pets and/or children are playing outside, here are some of the toxic plants that you must never grow in your garden:

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley, so beautiful with its dainty, bell-like flowers and bright green foliage. This perennial plant is no doubt gorgeous and fragrant but be warned, it's highly toxic to human beings and animals alike. Lily of the Valley is teeming with 40 different types of cardiac glycosides, highly toxic compounds that are powerful enough to send a grown man to the ER.

The flowers, leaves, stems, and berries of Lily of the Valley are all toxic. Accidental ingestion could lead to headaches, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, and skin rashes. Severe poisoning without immediate treatment is fatal.

Rhubarb

Rhubarb appears innocent enough; it's a popular ingredient in pies, after all! But that's what makes rhubarb dangerous, we're all too familiar with it as a vegetable. Don't make the mistake of eating the leaves.

Rhubarb leaves are high in toxins that could affect the kidneys, including oxalic acid. Since the vegetable was marketed as safe during WWI, many people were poisoned by rhubarb leaves! High doses of the toxins could lead to kidney failure. There were cases when accidental ingestion of Rhubarb leaves led to death.

Foxglove

Foxglove, with its pretty bell-like blossoms and deep green foliage, adds a pop of color to the garden but watch out, the plant is packed with toxins. Unfortunately, Foxglove attracts children and pets alike with its vividly colored flowers and berries, which could cause heart failure once ingested. According to Poison Control, eating the berries is much like taking an unregulated dosage of heart medicine.

Almost all parts of the plant contain high amounts of toxins digitalin, digitonin, and digitoxin in them, including the leaves and stems. Accidental ingestion could lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, and bradycardia.

Wisteria

Although Wisteria is not toxic to humans, it's dangerous to pets, including dogs, cats, and horses. This climbing flowering plant produces pods and seeds that are toxic to pets. Some of the signs of poisoning include vomiting (sometimes with traces of blood), dehydration, and diarrhea. If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned by Wisteria, take your furry friend to the vet immediately.

Dieffenbachia

Also known as Dumb Cane, Dieffenbachia is a popular houseplant because of its striking, white-speckled leaves. It's so easy to maintain and propagate too! However, it's not the best houseplant to get if you have a child, a pet, or both.

The plant has needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate, a toxin that shuts down the airways. Ingesting the plant tissues could cause the tongue and mouth to swell up. Even brushing against the plant causes mild skin irritation. Ingesting the plant tissues could become fatal if not treated right away.

Daffodil

Daffodil is a popular ornamental plant prized for its bright yellow blossoms. But if you have pets that love to dig around and explore the garden, you need to reconsider growing Daffodils in your garden. Daffodils contain a toxin called lycorine. This poison is not lethal to human beings but it is dangerous to pets.

The poison is concentrated on the bulbs of the flowers and accidental ingestion could cause diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. In severe cases of poisoning, the toxin could cause convulsions, tremors, and cardiac arrhythmia.

Hydrangea

The beautiful Hydrangea, known for its striking clusters of blue, purple, pink and white blossoms, is a lovely flowering plant that adds a touch of romance to the garden. Sadly, the entire plant, including the flower buds, is quite toxic to pets and children.

All parts of Hydrangea contain traces of cyanide. Accidental ingestion could cause shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, and a rapid pulse. Severe cases of poisoning could also lead to convulsions and death.

Oleander

With its fragrant, delicate blossoms and deep green leaves, Oleander is a prized ornamental plant. However, it is also one of the most dangerous plants for children and pets. The entire plant, including the sap and nectar, is poisonous.

Just a small amount of the poison is enough to kill a baby or a toddler. Apart from affecting the digestive system, the poison from Oleander will target the central nervous system and circulatory system, causing everything from slowed heart rate to seizures, coma, and in some cases, death.

Larkspur

Larkspur belongs in the buttercup family of flowering plant and is grown for its graceful, vividly colored blossoms. This plant is low maintenance so it’s a favorite beginner plant among newbie gardeners. However, if you have kids or pets, opt for a safer alternative. You see, all parts of the Larkspur plant are toxic to pets and children. The leaves and seeds contain the highest levels of alkaloids.

Alkaloids are toxins that cause vomiting, nausea, painful burns in the mouth and a slow heartbeat. If you suspect that a pet or a loved one has been poisoned by Larkspur, seek immediate treatment. It only takes six hours before the effects of the poison become lethal.

Water Hemlock

Water Hemlock is such a looker with its clusters of dainty white blossoms but it happens to be the most dangerous plant in the US and the whole of North America. It looks utterly harmless but the Water Hemlock is teeming with cicutoxin, a chemical that causes violent convulsions, painful seizures, and in some cases, coma.

The tiniest flower is enough to kill a 550-kilo animal. It's that potent! Everything from Water Hemlock's leaves, sap, and seeds are teeming with the toxins. If you see this growing in your outdoor space, kill it right away.  

It’s common for pretty flowering plants to be highly toxic so do your research if you’re building a flower garden for your kids or pets. Knowing the difference between safe and toxic plants could literally save a life and future accidents. Tune in for more gardening tips and helpful resources by subscribing to our weekly newsletter!


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