Plants That Are Dangerous to Kids

In This Article:

Toxic plants
Injurious plants

Tidbits from the plant kingdom—flowers, seeds, fruits, leaves, twigs, and bark—can look tempting enough to taste. But some can make a young body quite sick (though usually only if ingested in quantity), and a few can even prove fatal. Other plants can cause irritation—often intense—to the mouth, throat and tongue, or skin.

Teach your children early never to taste or pick plants growing indoors, in the garden, or in the wilds, without your permission. If your youngster does ingest a plant, contact your pediatrician or poison control center immediately for advice. It will help if you have a cutting of the plant or know its name.

Listed below are common garden plants and houseplants that are potentially toxic or injurious. It would be impossible to list every plant culprit, especially the many that grow in the wild. Be extremely careful of mushrooms, which do cause fatalities.

Be sure to identify whatever you’re growing at home, indoors or out. Consult a good local nursery, as well as the AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, published by the American Medical Association.

Toxic plants

  • Aconitum (Monkshood, Wolfsbane). All parts are toxic.
  • Adenium (Desert Rose, Mock Azalea). All parts are toxic.
  • Aesculus (Horsechestnut, Buckeye). Nuts and twigs are toxic.
  • Aloe Thick sap is toxic.
  • Amaryllis (Belladonna Lily, Naked Lady). Bulb is toxic.
  • Avocado Leaves are toxic.
  • Baptisia (False Indigo, Wild Indigo). All parts are toxic.
  • Brugmansia (Jimson Weed, Mad Apple). All parts are toxic.
  • Caesalpinia (Poinciana). Seeds of most species are toxic.
  • Caltha (Marshmarigold, Cowslip). All parts are toxic and irritating.
  • Colchicum (Autumn Crocus—not a true crocus). All parts are extremely toxic.
  • Convallaria majalis (Lily-of-the-Valley). All parts—and the water the plant is in—are extremely toxic.
  • Corynocarpus (New Zealand Laurel). Fruit is extremely toxic.
  • Crinum All parts are toxic, including the bulb.
  • Daphne mezereum (February Daphne). All parts are toxic.
  • Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove). Leaves are extremely toxic.
  • Duranta (Golden Dewdrop). Berries are toxic.
  • Eriobotrya (Loquat, Japanese Plum). Pit kernel inside fruit is toxic.
  • Euonymus europaeus (European Spindle Tree, Burning Bush). Fruit is toxic.
  • Euphorbia (Candelabra Cactus, Crown of Thorns, Poinsettia). Sap of some is toxic; also may cause skin irritation.
  • Gelsemium (Carolina Jessamine, Wood Vine). All parts are toxic.
  • Gloriosa (Glory Lily). All parts are toxic, especially the tuberous root.
  • Hedera (English Ivy). Berry and leaf are toxic.
  • Helleborus (Christmas Rose). All parts are toxic.
  • Hydrangea (Hills-of-Snow, Hortensia). Flower buds are toxic.
  • Hymenocallis (Peruvian Daffodil). Bulbs are toxic.
  • Ilex (Holly). Berries are toxic.
  • Iris (Fleur-de-Lis). Roots are toxic.
  • Kalmia (Mountain Laurel). Leaves and nectar are toxic.
  • Laburum (Goldenchain Tree, Bean Tree). All parts are toxic, especially seeds.
  • Lantana camara Immature berries are toxic.
  • Leucothoe (Dog Hobble). All parts are toxic.
  • Ligustrum (Privet, Lovage). All parts are toxic.
  • Lycoris (Spider Lily, Hurricane Lily). Bulbs are toxic.
  • Melia (Chinaberry, Hog Bush). Fruit and bark are toxic.
  • Myoporum Leaves and fruit are toxic.
  • Narcissus (Daffodil, Jonquil). Bulbs are toxic.
  • Nerium (Oleander). All parts are extremely toxic, as is the smoke from burning branches, the water a plant is in, and branches used as barbecue skewers.
  • Ornithogalum (Wonder Flower). All parts are toxic, especially the bulb.
  • Pachyrhizus (Jicama). Root is edible but seeds and pods are toxic.
  • Pernettya Leaves and nectar are toxic.
  • Physalis (Lantern Plant, Ground Cherry). Unripe berries are toxic.
  • Pieris (Fetterbush). Leaves and nectar are toxic.
  • Potato Green tuber skin and uncooked shoots are toxic.
  • Prunus (Apricot, Cherry, Nectarine, Peach, Plum, Prune). Pit kernels are toxic.
  • Rhamnus (Black Dogwood, Coffeeberry). Bark and fruit are toxic.
  • Rhododendron (also Azalea). Leaves and honey from nectar are toxic.
  • Rhubarb Stalks are wholesome but leaves are toxic.
  • Ricinus (Castor Bean). Plump seeds, usually white with black or brown mottling, are extremely toxic.
  • Robiniapseudoacacia (False Acacia). Bark, leaves, and seeds are toxic.
  • Scilla (Sea Onion, Bluebell). All parts are toxic.
  • Sesbania (Scarlet Wisteria Tree). All parts are toxic.
  • Solanum (Deadly Nightshade). All parts of some species are fatal.
  • Sophora (Texas Mountain Laurel). Seeds are toxic.
  • Symphoricarpos (Snowberry). Berries are toxic if ingested in quantity.
  • Symphytum (Comfrey). Leaves are toxic.
  • Taxus (Yew, Ground Hemlock). Most of plant, including seeds, is toxic.
  • Thevetia peruviana (Yellow Oleander). All parts are toxic, especially seeds.
  • Wisteria All parts are toxic.
  • Zephyranthes (Rain Lily). Bulb is toxic.

 

Injurious plants

  • Alocasia (Elephant’s Ear). Leaves and stems burn mouth.
  • Anthurium Leaves and stems burn mouth.
  • Arum (Black Calla, Solomon’s Lily). All parts hurt mouth and throat.
  • Buxus (Boxwood). Irritates skin and, if eaten, causes nausea.
  • Caladium All parts burn mouth.
  • Caryota (Fishtail Palm). Fruit burns mouth, irritates skin.
  • Colocasia (Elephant’s Ear, Taro). Leaves burn mouth.
  • Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane). Leaves burn mouth (and have even caused temporary speech impairment), also irritate skin.
  • Epipremnum (Pothos). All parts irritate skin and, if eaten, cause diarrhea.
  • Ficus benjamina Sap is injurious.
  • Monstera (Breadfruit Vine, Split-Leaf Philodendron). Leaves burn mouth.
  • Philodendron Leaves burn mouth and throat, also irritate skin.
  • Pyracantha Berries and thorns are injurious.
  • Spathiphyllum All parts burn mouth and throat.
  • Xanthosoma (Blue Taro). Leaves burn mouth.
  • Zantedeschia (Calla Lily). Leaves burn mouth and lips.

TIP: Change your garden-care products to those that are least toxic. Use fertilizers that dissolve in water and spread immediately into the soil; pellets and other residue can too easily be tasted.

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