Poisonous Plants

By Karen Fraizer

A poisonous plant is by definition, “a plant that when touched or ingested in sufficient quantity can be harmful or fatal to an organism”.

People sometimes think if they do not directly ingest a piece of a plant (such as leaves or seeds), that they are probably safe from being poisoned. Or, maybe you think that if you see an animal consume the plant, it is probably okay for you to eat. Both of those statements are false and could get you into a sticky situation! Some plants are poisonous just by touching them. Some may be alright for the birds… but are definitely not okay for us. 

We have all heard that there are plants which grow in the wild that can be harmful to humans. But did you know that many of our common landscape plants can be poisonous to us and our beloved pets? 

Two plant species many of us are familiar with are Rhododendron spp. and Taxus spp. Both are on the poisonous plants list, and many of us have them planted around our homes.

All parts of the Rhododendron contain toxins. If sufficient foliage has been consumed, death from respiratory failure can occur within hours. However, the chance of human poisoning is extremely low due to the amount you would have to consume. There are no records of fatal poisoning in humans in recent times.  If a poisoning does occur its most likely to happen in animals.  

All parts of the Taxus plant are also poisonous except the flesh of the berry. Though the berries are harmless, the seeds within are highly toxic. Unbroken, it will pass through the body without being digested, but if chewed, poisoning can occur within as few as 3 seeds.

This is just a peek at two of the plants that will be talked about in Kingwood’s Poisonous Plants Walk with Gardener Carly Hatfield on September 28, 2018 from 6-7:30 P.M. This walk will be a combination of poisonous plant identification with some fun folklore. Check our website for more information on this workshop.

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