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Now browsing: Hometown News > Gardening > Garden Nook


Watch out for poisonous plants
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Posted: 2014 Aug 29 - 08:54

Although I have written about this topic two years ago, I am getting a lot of e-mail requests to talk about some of the most common poisonous plants in Florida. I have compiled a list of some of the most common plats that we all have in our yards and gardens. Some of the varieties that are poisonous will shock you.

If you look around your yard and neighborhood, you will find ornamental plants of almost every size, shape and color. What you don't know about some of these common plants can be deadly. Some parts of the ornamental plants or flowers in your yard may contain deadly poison. The most susceptible to being harmed by these plants are children and pets. One of the most toxic and common poisonous plants is the Oleander. The Oleander plant contains a deadly heart stimulant that resembles the prescription drug digitalis. If a child eats a single leaf or two from this plant it could be deadly. There have been several instances where people have died from eating meats that were roasted from a wood fire that contained Oleander twigs or branches.

Dieffenbachia, which is a common tropical that many of us have in our homes, is also a highly toxic plant. All parts of this plant are poisonous. If eaten, the plant can cause intense burning and irritation of your mouth. The plant can be deadly if enough swelling occurs to block your airway. You should always wash your hands after handling this or any of the listed poisonous plants.

Another surprising plant is the Azalea. All parts of the Azalea plant can be toxic if ingested. The symptoms include nausea and vomiting along with difficulty in breathing and possibly coma. The end result can be fatal. Even the berries of Jasmine plants can be toxic. They can cause digestive problems along with nervous system disorders.

The foliage from oak trees can be toxic but the effects are gradual. If foliage is ingested, it can slowly affect your kidneys. You need to ingest a substantial amount for severe poisoning to occur.

Lantana, which is commonly used by many as a colorful ground cover, is another specimen that is toxic if ingested. Acute poisoning can cause hemorrhagic diarrhea and rapid heart rate.

Although this list includes some of the most common plant varieties, there are many more that could be added to this list including Milkweed, Narcissus, Daffodil, poison Oak, Purslane and Snow on the Mountain. Bear in mind that just because some of your favorite plants can be toxic if ingested, common sense and keeping these plants out of the reach of small children and pets can totally avoid tragedy.

We have talked a lot about common and seemingly innocent plants that can be toxic but here is one plant that many people think is deadly poisonous but in reality, it is harmless. The plant I am referring to is the Poinsettia. The Poinsettia plant is one of the most widely produced plants in the country. During the holidays, almost every household has at least one Poinsettia adorning their décor. Fear not as today's commercially distributed varieties are not poisonous. There are some people, however, that may get a mild allergic reaction to the milky sap if it comes in contact with their skin. The affected areas can be washed with soap and water to remove the sap if irritation develops. Poinsettia plants are not a serious risk for animals although it is always best to keep any plant out of the reach of pets if they like to chew plants.

Finally, there are also several common houseplants that can be toxic to animals and children. Probably the most common is the Philodendron. The toxic part is the leaves. If ingested, it can cause burning of the lips and mouth and can also cause contact dermatitis if the plant juice contacts the skin. Similar symptoms can occur with Pothos, Golden Pothos and Devil's Ivy.

Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to hometowngarden@gmail.com or visit his website www.hometowngarden.com.




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