Vegetation helps sustain life. We eat many plants, herbs and so forth in our daily diet. But, we must remember to be choosy. Some plants, trees or shrubs are potential killers of man. Some part of the ornamental plants or flowers in your yard may contain deadly poison. Many poisonous plants are so common and seemingly innocuous you do not suspect their toxic qualities.
For example, who would expect that the beautiful oleander bush-grown indoors and outdoors all over the country-contains a deadly heart stimulant, similar to the drug digitalis?
It is easy to be deceived by plants…one part may be edible while another is poisonous. The following chart lists some of the more common poisonous plants.
Hyacinth, Narcissus, DaffodilBulbsNausea, vomiting, diarrhea. May be fatal.
OleanderLeaves, branchesExtremely poisonous. Affects the heart, produces severe digestive upset and has caused death.
Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane), Elephant EarAll partsIntense burning and irritation of the mouth and tongue. Death can occur if base of the tongue swells enough to block the air passage of the throat.
Rosary Pea, Castor BeanSeedsFatal. A single Rosary Pea seed has caused death. One or two Castor Bean seeds are near the lethal dose for adults.
FLOWER GARDEN PLANTS
LarkspurYoung plant, seedsDigestive upset, nervous excitement, depression. May be fatal.
MonkshoodFleshy rootsDigestive upset and nervous excitement.
Autumn Crocus, Star of BethlehemBulbsVomiting and nervous excitement.
Lily-of-the-ValleyLeaves, flowersIrregular heart beat and pulse, usually accompanied by digestive upset and mental confusion.
IrisUnderground stemsSevere-but not usually serious-digestive upset.
FoxgloveLeavesLarge amounts cause dangerously irregular heartbeat and pulse, usually digestive upset and mental confusion. May be fatal.
Bleeding HeartFoliage, rootsMay be poisonous in large amounts. Has proved fatal to cattle.
VEGETABLE GARDEN PLANTS
RhubarbLeaf bladeFatal. Large amounts of raw or cooked leaves can cause convulsions, coma, followed rapidly by death.
DaphneBerriesFatal. A few berries can kill a child.
WisteriaSeeds, podsMild to severe digestive upset. Many children are poisoned by this plant.
Golden ChainBean-like capsules in which the seeds are suspendedSevere poisoning. Excitement, staggering, convulsions and coma. May be fatal.
Laurels, Rhododendrons, AzaleasAll partsFatal. Produces nausea and vomiting, depression, difficult breathing, prostration and coma.
JasmineBerriesFatal. Digestive disturbance and nervous symptoms.
Lantana Camara (Red Sage)Green berriesFatal. Affects lungs, kidneys, heart and nervous system. Grows in the southern U.S. And in moderate climates.
YewBerries, foliageFatal. Foliage more toxic than berries. Death is usually sudden without warning symptoms.
TREES AND SHRUBS
Wild and cultivated cherriesTwigs, foliageFatal. Contains a compound that releases cyanide when eaten. Gasping, excitement and prostration are common symptoms.
OaksFoliage, acornsAffects kidneys gradually. Symptoms appear only after several days or weeks. Takes a large amount for poisoning.
ElderberryAll parts, especially rootsChildren have been poisoned by using pieces of the pithy stems for blowguns. Nausea and digestive upset.
Black LocustBark, sprouts, foliageChildren have suffered nausea, weakness and depression after chewing the bark and seeds.
PLANTS IN WOODED AREAS
Jack-in-the-PulpitAll parts, especially rootsLike Dumb Cane, contains small needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate that cause intense irritation and burning of the mouth and tongue.
MoonseedBerriesBlue, purple color, resembling wild grapes. May be fatal.
MayappleApple, foliage, rootsContains at least 16 active toxic principles, primarily in the roots. Children often eat the apple with no ill effects, but several apples may cause diarrhea.
MistletoeBerriesFatal. Both children and adults have died from eating the berries.
PLANTS IN SWAMP OR MOIST AREAS
Water HemlockAll partsFatal. Violent and painful convulsions. A number of people have died from hemlock.
PLANTS IN FIELDS
ButtercupsAll partsIrritant juices may severely injure the digestive system.
NightshadeAll parts, especially the unripened berryFatal. Intense digestive disturbance and nervous symptoms.
Poison HemlockAll partsFatal. Resembles a large wild carrot.
Jimson Weed (Thorn Apple)All partsAbnormal thirst, distorted sight, delirium, incoherence and coma. Common cause of poisoning. Has proved fatal.
*Additional common poisonous plants and plant parts.
PLANT NAMETOXIC PLANT PARTSYMPTONS
Century Plant (Ornamental)LeavesVomiting, diarrhea
Elephant Ear (Flower)All PartsIntense burning and irritation of the tongue
English Ivy (House Plant)Leaves, Stems, FruitsHeadache, fever, anxiety, breathing difficulty, coma
Eucalyptus (House Plant)LeavesNausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, respiratory difficulty
False Indigo (Flower)All PartsParalysis
Ginkgo (Flower)FruitViolent stomach pain, kidney disorders
Holly (Tree/Shrub)BerriesVomiting, diarrhea
Honeysuckle, Japanese and Trumpet (Tree/Shrub)All PartsDiarrhea, pupil dilation, irregular heartbeat, respiratory failure, coma
Impatients (Flower)Stem, Leaves, RootVomiting, Diarrhea
Iris (Flower)Underground StemsSevere digestive tract discomfort
Juniper (Tree/Shrub)Berry-Like SeedsKidney damage
Lantana (Tree/Shrub)FruitGastric, vomiting, diarrhea, circulatory collapse
Mimosa (Tree/Shrub)All PartsDepressant action on the heart muscle
Morning Glory (Flower)Seeds, RootHallucinations, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tightness
Mountain Laurel (Tree/Shrub)Leaves, Twigs, FlowersGastric, paralysis, convulsions
Oleander (Tree/Shrub)All PartsDizziness, irregular
heartbeat, nausea, convulsions, death. This is one of the most toxic ornamental plants in the southeast
Periwinkle Vine (Tree/Shrub)All PartsIntestinal irritation
Periwinkle Annual (Flower)All PartsHallucinations, damage to liver, kidney, nervous system
Privet (Tree/Shrub)FruitNausea, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure
Trumpet Creeper (Tree/Shrub)All Parts Except FruitGastric irritation, dilated pupils, numbness in hands
Wisteria (Tree/Shrub)Pods, SeedsStomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting
Treat unknown plants with respect and teach your children to do the same.