• What Plants are Poisonous?
  • What Plants Cause Allergies?

Prickly plants are no fun in confined places where children play. Plants with poisonous sap are best avoided in places where they need to be pruned back frequently.

Poisonous Plants
Most people are totally ignorant of just how poisonous many of our common garden plants are. Figures from the U.S.A. have shown that 4.5% of poisonings in the United States are due to plants (excluding toadstools). Often poisoning from plants is mild; an irritation or a rash caused by skin contact with sap, but occasionally the results can be much more serious causing permaneant injury or death.
There are four ways a plant can poison a person:

Allergic reactions to wind blown spores or pollen (eg. Hay fever from grass or wattle pollen during the
flowering season)

Skin irritation (eg. Brushing up against leaves of a plant whilst weeding or coming in contact with sap
when picking or trimming flowers).

Eating part of a plant, either directly (eg. children chewing a leaf or a twig), or unconciously (eg. eating
meat turned on a bbq with a stick from a poisonous plant).

Spines, prickles or thorns from some plants not only puncture the skin but also inject a poison.

Commonly Grown Poisonous Plants

  • Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia)
  • Ligustrum spp. (Privet).
  • Nerium Oleander

Some Common Plants which have caused deaths:

  • Caladium
  • Convallaria majalis (Lily of the Valley)
  • Daphne odora
  • Datura
  • Diffenbachia
  • Digitalis sp. (Foxglove)
  • Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia)
  • Lantana
  • Nerium oleander (Oleander
  • Rheum rhaponticum (Rhubarb leaves are poisonous)
  • Ricinus communis (Castor Oil Plant)
  • Taxus buccata (Yew)

Plants known to cause skin irritations with some people:

Plant Common Name and Offending part

  • Agave sp. Century plant sap
  • Buxus sempervirens English box leaves
  • Chrysanthemum sp. Chrysanthemum daisy leaves
  • Delphinium ajacis Larkspur leaves and seed
  • Euphorbia sp. Poinsettia, spurge milky sap
  • Ficus sp. Fig sap or juice
  • Ginkgo biloba Maidenhair tree seeds
  • Grevillea sp. Spider flower prickly foliage
  • Hedera helix Ivy leaves
  • Iris sp. Iris, flag roots
  • Morus rubra Mulberry leaves, stems
  • Nerium oleander Oleander sap, leaves
  • Plumbago auriculata Leadwort all parts
  • Plumeria sp. Frangipani sap
  • Primula sp. Primrose leaves
  • Ranunculus sp. Buttercup leaves
  • Rumex sp. Dock or sorrel leaves
  • Rhus sp. Sumac all parts
  • Urtica sp. Stinging nettle foliage hair
  • Veratrum Hellebore leaves
The only way to avoid these problems, is to avoid the plants that are a problem.
  • Gardeners, landscapers, horticulturists, need to know the plants they use far better; in order to avoid planting problem plants where they can cause problems.
  • Health professionals need to know plants better, so they can better identify health issues and advise patients about plants they should avoid.
  • Nurserymen need to undserstand the health implications of the plants they sell, so they can advise customers of risks
  • Home owners need to be more knowledgeable about plants, and understand health impacts they might impose on their friends, families, visitors and neighbours.
  • Growing the right plants can actually help filter out allergens floating in the air; and raise levels of oxygen improving air quality; but growing the wrong plants can create a health nightmare that might not even be understood.
Learning to identify plants is clearly not just about making a "pretty garden". It is also important to sustain good health, and avoid what can become chronic health issues.
If you want to learn more about plants-

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to find out about our plant identification books, and home study courses
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