The presence of beautiful and well-grown garden plants gives an aesthetic touch to the home. Apart from being pleasing to the eye, some common house and garden plants also happen to be toxic. They can carry not only health risks, but also life-threatening hazards, especially if not carefully handled. To stay safe and to keep your family and pets safe, it is pertinent to learn how to identify toxic garden plants.
Toxic Garden Plants to Humans or Pets
- Amaryllis (Belladonna Lily): Amaryllis which grows to produce white and red flowers contains lycorine and other toxic substances. This may cause vomiting, depression, hyper salivation, anorexia, abdominal pain, tremors and even kidney failure.
- Hydrangea hortensis: This is a medium-sized decorative garden plant which blooms annually from spring until autumn with large, ball-shaped flowers of about 30cm in diameter. Hydrangea’s petals most often, come in pink, and are sometimes white, red and blue-coloured. Unfortunately, all parts of this garden plant contain low amounts of cyanide, a deadly poison. It is unsafe for children and pets.
- Alocasia (Elephant’s Ear): It can be found in many homes as an ornamental plant. It is very high in insoluble calcium oxalate, which causes difficulty in swallowing, oral irritation, vomiting and excessive drooling.
- Rosebay (Azalea): It is also known as Rhododendron and used as an ornamental plant. However, it contains Grayantoxin which may result in diarrhoea and cardiac failure when ingested by cats or dogs.
- Aloe Vera: It is popular for its medicinal importance and thick, succulent foliage edged with teeth. However, the thick gel in the leaves contains a naturally occurring detergent known as saponins and anthraquinones which are very toxic to cats and dogs as well as birds. Saponins poisoning from Aloe Vera produces symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite and change in urine colour which are pointers of gastrointestinal tract infection and kidney damage.
- Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane): It is a common garden plant which produces leaves with white spots and flecks and can reach up to two metres in height. People prefer it as a foliage plant because of its patterned leaves. Dieffenbachia when ingested can cause intensive drooling, oral irritation which leads to losing the ability to talk, nausea and vomiting due to insoluble calcium oxalate poisoning.
- Sago Palm: This plant grows naturally in tropical environments and it’s commonly used as an ornamental houseplant. All its parts are considered poisonous to pets with the seeds being the most toxic. Ingestion results in severe liver damage in dogs, drooling, vomiting, tremors and abdominal pain due to the toxic effects of cycasin which it contains.
Other toxic garden plants include:
Tulips, Hyacinths, Daffodils, Asparagus Fern, Lily of the Valley, Hawaiian Ti Plant
Avoid these plants to stay safe and to keep your pets safe. Be careful not to touch the sap of these plants and if you happen to do it, wash your hands before reaching for your face or eyes. Above all, check twice before collecting seeds and plants for your garden or windowsill to prevent accidental poisoning from garden plants.