Written and compiled by Fred Jaicks
Umbrellas are very much a part of outdoor living. However, plants can be considered both outdoor and household design, decor and indoor living. Many plants chosen to be houseplants and landscaping plants for their aesthetic value are in fact poisonous plants. Knowing how to identify them and what the symptoms are when these plants are ingested will help to determine which plants to choose for a home or garden. In addition, knowing how to treat the individual that has ingested the plant will prevent harm that could have been averted. A few of the most common poisonous household plants are included below:
- Castor Beans – Castor beans contain the most toxic plant poison in the world. They are found all over the world, from North America to Europe, but are predominantly found in the Western United States. They are marked by seven pointed leaves and have a cone shaped red flower. The beans are speckled brown and black and if ingested, induce vomiting and the call the poison control center. Ingestion could be fatal.
- Rosary Pea – This plant is identified by the bright red seeds, or peas, that have a single black dot on them. If this poisonous plant is swallowed, death can follow as quickly as a few minutes to an hour, with widespread internal lesions. No known remedy will cure this poison.
- Monkshood – Also known as wolfsbane, monkshood is a purple flower suspended upon a stem that is toxic to humans, animals, and fowl. Found on most continents, ingestion can be treated by inducing vomiting, and if the individual is awake, the poison may be diluted with quantities of milk or water until medical help can be found.
- Bushman’s Poison – This plant is found in Africa and has been used for many years by the African tribes for hunting. They would douse their arrow tips and darts with the poison so that animal prey can be slain more quickly. Bushman’s Poison appears in nature as a flowering bush, marked by slightly pink flowers and has groupings of large plum-like berries. The part of the plant that is poisonous is the sap, and if ingested, medical help should be sought immediately. The leaves, however, have medicinal properties.
- Angel’s Trumpet – Related to tomatoes and also known as devil’s snare, the Angel’s Trumpet plant is highly hallucinogenic and could lead to death if swallowed. If plant is consumed by accident, induce vomiting and call a physician. The plant resembles a long trumpet horn marked by yellow colors that fade into red at the tip.
- Water Hemlock – This plant is used all across the US as a landscaping plant for its simple compound flowers in white. Each grouping of white flowers is held by a stem attached to a main stem. The flowers and stems are safe, but the roots contain a toxin that is violent in its effects. Vomiting should be induced and a physician called if the toxic roots are ingested.
- Narcissus or Daffodil – The bulbs are toxic in this popular garden and house plant, not the flowers or stems. If ingested, use milk and/or water to dilute the poison, then induce vomiting and call a poison control center.
These are but a few of the poisonous plants found in gardens and houses across the world. If you aren’t sure whether or not a plant in your home is poisonous, be sure to consult with a poisonous plant glossary or identifier. There are plenty of sites that can help you identify the plant in your home, some of which are provided here.
- Poison Ivy, Oak and sumac Information Center
- Wilderness Survival: Poisonous Plants
- Gardening Launch Pad’s Guide to Poisonous Plants
- Identifying Poisonous Plants
- Poisonous Plant Database
- Urban Forest Ecosystems Resource Links
- Same as Above but Listed Alphabetically
- What You Should Know About Poisonous Plants and Birds
Knowing that some of the most popular plants used in landscaping can be harmful will assist the home owner or gardener in choosing the correct plants for their environments. You must also be careful when choosing plants if you have pets, since some plants are safe for humans but lethal to dogs or cats. As long as you research your choices, you can rest assured that your plants are contributing to a safe and healthy home.