Saturday, June 18, 2011

Dangers of summer plants

Summer is the perfect time to be outside with your kids in the yard and garden. But have you ever taken a check of the plants in your yard to make sure they’re safe for your kids to be around?

Some everyday plants sold at your local nursery and found in the woods may be dangerous if curious children touch the leaves or put them in their mouths, so it’s a good idea to know which plants are in your yard.

Here are some of the most common plants that can be dangerous to pets, children or yourself.

Poison Ivy, Poison Sumac, Poison Oak

Dangerous to Touch

These three plants are commonly found in the backyard and release an oil (urushiol) when the leaf or other part of the plant are bruised, damaged or burned. When it comes in contact with skin, the oil causes an allergic reaction characterized by an itchy red rash, bumps and blisters. To help children identify these plants, teach them the simple phrase, “Leaves of three, let them be.”
More information about the description and location of these plants can be found on the Center For Disease Control website.


Dangerous to Touch or Ingest

One of the most commonly grown toxic plants, every bit of the oleander plant is harmful. Typical symptoms of ingestion include a change in heart rate, nausea, vomiting and central nervous system reactions such as tremors, seizures and collapse. Ingesting a single leaf has proven to be deadly for infants or toddlers. Touching a plant results in the release of a nectar that once on the hands, can easily be transferred to the mouth with harmful effects.

Lily of the Valley

Dangerous to Ingest

Also known as mayflowers, these drooping, white fragrant flowers are found in shady, moist areas. The tiny bell-shaped flowers can cause nausea, vomiting, pain and diarrhea when ingested in large amounts. Heart irregularities are also a potential problem.


Dangerous to Ingest

These puffy pink, blue or white flowered bushes are commonly used in landscaping and as cut flowers. The blooms will cause stomach pain if ingested and possibly itchy skin, weakness and sweating as well as a possible breakdown in the body’s blood circulation.


Dangerous to Ingest

These beautiful blossoms can reach up to 13 cm in diameter and appear in all shades of red, pink and white. Commonly cultivated in gardens, ingestion can result in vomiting and accelerated heartbeat.


Dangerous to Ingest

Also known as daffodils and jonquils, these beautiful yellow flowers have bulbs that can be toxic. Ingestion can cause nausea, stomach pain, cramps and diarrhea. The bulbs are easily confused with onions and this is commonly how ingestion occurs.


Dangerous to Ingest

Rhododendron and azaleas are common landscaping bushes with beautiful flowers and an evergreen shrub. The leaves and the honey nectar made from the flowers are both toxic if ingested and can cause irregular heart rates, increased salivation and nausea.

Water Hemlock

Dangerous to Ingest

Called the most “violently toxic plant that grows in North America” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, ingesting only a small amount of the toxic substance of this plant can produce poisoning in humans and pets. Water hemlock has small, white flowers that grow in form umbrella-like clusters and the plant grows in wet seepage areas. Its poison works directly on the central nervous system and cause violent convulsions, seizures and even death.

Castor-bean plants

Dangerous to Ingest

These green and reddish plants can be purchased at nearly any garden center, but contain the deadly poison ricin in the seeds. This poison has been widely used as a toxin and is harmful if ingested, causing nausea, diarrhea and potential heart irregularities. Ingestion of several castor-bean seeds could lead to death.


Dangerous to Ingest

These unique looking plants with dark green, heart-shaped leaves and a red, white or green spike surrounded by a red, pink or white “spathe” are toxic if ingested. Symptoms include stomach pain, nausea and vomiting.


Dangerous to Ingest

This beautiful plant grows up to three feet tall with drooping purple, pink or white flowers along a central stalk. Ingestion of the plant can cause heart problems after nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Interestingly, the leaves of the plant are a commercial source for some heart drugs.


Dangerous to Ingest

Also known as larkspur, Delphinium features blue and white flowers and are often used by florists to represent love. The flower has been used for medicinal purposes and to repel pests, but consumption in large amounts can be poisonous.


Dangerous to Ingest

This cascading blue, pink or white flower is found predominately in the South and Southeast. It grows mainly on woody vines and can be seen climbing in trees or arbors. Ingesting this plant can cause nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea.


Dangerous for Pets

Commonly seen in the fall, and known as “mums,” these flowers appear in a variety of colors (red, yellow, white, purple, varied). For children, touching them may cause an allergic reaction on the skin. For your pets, however, ingestion can be very harmful causing nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and incoordination.