The first step in protecting your kids and pets from common poisonous plants is to know the plants in your yard and know your child and pets behaviour.
Do you know what kind of lawn you have?
How about your trees, hedges, shrubs, vines and flowers?
Can you name them?
Curious Kids and Hungry Pets Stay Away From Poisonous Plants!
Is your child prone to exploring the world by putting everything and anything in his or her mouth?
“Things” meaning plants, bark, seeds, flowers- the place where plant poisons reside.
Does your dog or cat forage and nibble on plants and grass?
Does your dog like to fetch sticks?
If your answer to the above questions is “YES,” and you don’t know what plants are in your yard, please educate yourself!
The only way a plant can poison humans or animals is if one actually touches, smokes, or eats it.
Plants will not chase and attack you but they can stop you dead in your tracks if you try to eat them!
This is natures way of protecting plants from predators and securing the safety of their seeds for future generations.
You may have watched my presentation on “Poisonous Plants with Shirley Bovshow” on the Home & Family show on the Hallmark Channel recently.
This is it!
Check out these common poisonous plants that have landed people and pets in hospitals fighting for their lives.
There’s a good chance you have one of these plants in your yard or have seen them in someone else’s.
There’s a lot to like about this dangerous beauty.
Oleander is an attractive and fragrant evergreen shrub, popular in warm climates.
As a hedge, it’s an excellent choice, growing rapidly as a vertical screen and it doesn’t need good soil or much water to flower prolifically.
Some people call it the “freeway plant” because it’s a popular freeway shrub.
On the other hand, Oleander is one of the most potentially poisonous plants on earth.
Neither human nor animal is safe from a toxic encounter with Oleander.
Touching or brushing up against the Oleander leaf may cause major skin and eye inflammation.
Photo by Jeremy Lee for Crown Media 2014
Eating one leaf is enough to cause death in a small child or small animal within hours!
Oleander sap contains “Oleandrin,” a cardiac glycocide that regulates heart rythym.
- Never use shredded Oleander leaves, stems and branches as a mulch or firewood.
- The Oleandrin is released into the air causing respitory distress.
- Wear gloves when handling the Oleander plant and never let Fido fetch a stick from this plant!
Do you have Oleander in your yard?
Lot’s of people do.
Proceed with caution.
LILY OF THE VALLEY (PIERIS JAPONICA)
For hundreds of years, “Lily of the Valley,” (Pieris japonica) has been written into literature as the “poisonous plant” used in countless murders!
Yes, this gorgeous plant has a shady reputation and for good reason.
LIly of the Valley shrub has over 30 different chemicals that act as “cardiac glycocides” that will take your heart for a deadly ride!
Are you a fan of the hit show, (now available on Netflixs), “Breaking Bad?”
The Lily of the Valley makes an important appearance on the show, but I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t watched!
There’s another plant with the common name, “Lily of the Valley, ” (Convallaria majalis) that has toxic parts whose flowers look very similar to Pieris japonica.
Both have leaves, flowers, stems and seeds that are poisonous if ingested.
Potential side effects include:
- heart arythmia
- gastrointestinal distress
- mental confusion
- death from heart failure
Needless to say, “Please don’t eat the Lily of the Valley” and keep foraging pets away from it!
On the other hand, if you don’t have kids or pets who eat plants, the Pieris japonica is an extraordinary flowering shrub for the shade garden.
Urn-shaped, pendulous white flower clusters ornament this spring blooming plant.
Slight fragrance too.
Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis)
Surprised that Wisteria is on the list of “poisonous plants?”
NO wonder they named the show “Wisteria Lane” after this dangerous plant!
I love the cascading clusters of purple flowers that make a romantic show during spring time.
From the seeds to the stems, to the flowers, Wisteria has the toxic glycocide, “Wisterin,” that’s present in its seeds, pods, and bark.
Sometimes mistaken for bean or pea pods, curious children and hungry pets are especially vulnerable to Wisteria seeds.
Side effects include:
- Digestive upset
- trouble breathing
- fatal (when large amounts are consumed)
Exploding Wisteria Seeds!
Safe gaurding your children and pets away from the Wisteria plant is important, but you must to be aware of “exploding wisteria seeds” that can sabotage your plan!
Even if you block access to the Wisteria vine, Wisteria seeds “explode” from their pods in the summer and scatter all over the yard!
Wisteria seeds can be found up to 50 feet away from the vine, making them “accessible” again.
Nature has encoded plants with a “will to survive” and exploding seeds is one of the ways to ensure that seeds have a chance to sprout on fertile soil.
If you don’t have hungry kids and pets, enjoy your Wisteria vine, there’s nothing like it!
CALLA LILY (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
Calla lilies aren’t “true lilies” but part of the Arum family and a plant to “watch” when kids and pets are around.
Showy tall flowers emerge from slender stems in spring, just in time for Easter.
All parts of the Calla lily are poisonous if ingested, exuding oxalic acid and other potent chemicals.
The roots are most toxic.
Once oxalic acid enters the bloodstream, it binds to it and can’t be released from the blood resulting in toxicity to the kidneys, nerves, brain, heart, eyes and skin.
If you compare the toxicity of Calla lilies to other plants in the “Lillium” genus, or “true lilies,” it seems less dangers.
Plants in the Lilium Family are Lethal, Especially to Cats!
“Lilies” are one type of plant that you want to remember the scientific name of.
If you see “Lilium” on a plant tag and you have a cat, keep these plants out of your house!
Liliums are “true lilies” and lilies are not your cats best friend.
Plants in the Lilium family are lethal to cats and it takes only a small dose of it’s toxins to gravely injure or kill your cat.
Lilies include plants commonly known as:
- Asiatic lilies
- Easter lilies
- Tiger lilies
- Day lilies
There are others, but this is a good list to start with.
The poison in lilies are found throughout the plant including the stems, flower, seeds and pollen!
What makes lilies especially scary for cat owners is that pollen from lilies fall onto tables, get on your clothes, and can end up on your cats fur or nose!
If your cat grooms himself and ingests small amounts of lily pollen, time is of the essence to get to your cat to the veterinarian.
Irreversible damage to vital organs can begin within a few short hours!
Lilies are the #1 plant related poisoning leading to feline death according to medical sources.
Lilies are also poisonous to humans and dogs but not to the extreme degree of cats.
In any case, don’t give lilies to friends with cats, don’t bring them into your yard or house if you have a cat.
I’ve said my peace.
Learn more about poisonous plants:
Do you have any stories about your experience with poisonous plants?
I want to hear about it.