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Monday, May 25, 2009

Poisonous Plants - Is Your Garden Safe For Your Children and Pets?

Last spring, inspired by a Martha Stewart magazine cover, I decided to plant a garden.  I went to the local nursery and bought all sorts of plants without at all considering whether or not they could be poisonous.  In my naivet√©, I assumed that if a plant was poisonous to children or pets it would says so on the plant's tag, right there next to how much sun and water the plant needed -- "Full sun. Water well. Poisonous if eaten." As you may have guessed, that is not the case.

It was only after I had planted my new garden that I found out from a friend that a number of plants I had chosen were in fact lethal should my daughter decide to eat a leaf or flower.   Looking around at the petals and leaves scattered on the lawn I realized my garden was a minefield.

Many common plants are actually very dangerous.  Wisteria, Foxglove, Irises, Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Oleander, Jasmine and Buttercups are all poisonous, just to name a few.   Thanks to the internet, however, it is easier than ever to learn which plants are safe and which to avoid.  

Below are two of the more thorough and informative resources out there. Texas A&M University has a list of some of the more common toxic plants, what parts of the plant are poisonous and what effects the toxins have.  Colorado State University has a searchable database that includes photos of the offending plants as well as suggested treatments if ingested. 

If your child does ingest a questionable plant, before trying any at home treatments, such as inducing vomiting or syrup of Ipecac, you should call your local poison control at 1-800-222-1222.  The Poison Control Center will be able to tell you if the plant was poisonous, what to watch for and if you need to bring your child to the emergency room.