Common Poisonous Plants in your Garden

Const - Landscape Architect

Most people look at flora and fauna and think about the colors they see or the scents exuded, and they may keep plants in their home for beautification purposes.  Others study them in the hopes of discovering a cure for a disease. While much vegetation is good for us, there are several varieties that naturally carry toxins in their glands to prevent animals and people from harvesting or eating them. That's right, many of the most common plants can be harmful. Here's a list of ten toxic plants people often come in contact with but may be deceived into believing are harmless:

  • Narcissus - aka daffodils and jonquils.  Yellow and white in color, these plants are actually toxic when ingested. Occasionally people will confuse the bulbs with onions, and if cooked and ingested, diners often experience nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea, especially if the quantity is large or the individual is small (body weight affects the rate at which the poison is absorbed, as well as how adverse the affects are).  Narcissus is not life threatening, but is highly unpleasant.
  • Rhododendron - This plant is one that can actually be fatal if ingested. Rhododendron and their azalea counterparts are poisonous to the point where you might suffer from headaches, weak muscles, dim vision, burning mouth sensations, slip into a coma or fall victim to fatal convulsions.  Avoid ingesting at all costs, and keep away from pets.
  • Ficus - Ficus have milky sap in their leaves that is extremely toxic, and though the plant won't kill you, your skin will itch and often puff up if the sap is absorbed through the skin.  Wash immediately upon contact to help lessen the effects of unintentional contact.
  • Oleander - Every part of this flora is dangerous. Don't even burn the plant, as the smoke can cause lung issues if inhaled. Succumbing to the toxins in this plant can lead to irregular heartbeats, both slow and rapid, and vomiting.  The book and subsequent movie "White Oleander" was based on a plot to use this plant to kill.
  • Chrysanthemum - These orange and yellow plants are toxic to the touch, much like poison oak, poison ivy, or ficus. Try to keep away from these as much as possible, and only use them if you’re attempting to keep rabbits out of your garden.
  • Anthurium - The red leaves of these heart-shaped plants are indeed pretty, but the spikes, or "spathe" in the middle is incredibly toxic. Ingesting this can lead to burning sensations in the mouth that eventually lead to blisters. In addition, eating anthurium alters your vocal cords, causing you to have a hoarse voice and increasing the difficulty of swallowing.
  • Lily-of-the-valley - Known as mayflowers, this is another plant that is entirely poisonous, from tiny tip to bulbous head. Like many of the other plants on this list, eating this one can cause severe stomach issues, including nausea and vomiting, as well as acute stomach pains.
  • Hydrangea - Popular though they may be, ingesting these purple majesties can cause severe stomach pains, vomiting, weakness, and sweating, and if ingested in large quantities, you might even slip into a coma or experience problematic blood circulation.
  • Foxglove - These white plants can grow to be three feet tall, and if ingested can cause you to have heart issues. Every part of this plant is dangerous to eat, so make sure it doesn’t come anywhere near your orifices.
  • Wisteria - the kindey bean tree is toxic, and ingesting the plant can cause nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea, the typical issues when eating wild flowers. Just don't do it.

So there you have it. Though many of these plants are often used as decorations for your house, make sure to keep them away from small children at all times. Kids, especially babies, have a habit of chewing on everything they see, so make sure you keep your family and animals safe by storing the plants in a safe place away from prying hands and paws. Almost all of these plants have antidotes that hospitals can administer, but it's much better to stay away entirely to avoid any issues. When gifting for an anniversary or birthday, try avoiding these plants, no matter how attractive they are.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, after all.