Toxic Plants

Protect Your Family and Pets from Toxic Plants

Plants serve us in many ways — they beautify the environment, release oxygen into the air and yield fruit for the table. Yet, we need to be aware that poisonous plants are everywhere. More than 700 species of plants located in the United States and Canada can cause illness or death in humans. It’s important to identify the dangerous plants inside your home, in your garden, and in nearby woods and parks.

Some ornamental shrubs and trees and a variety of wild plants common in yards, woods, swamps and fields can be dangerous. When moving to a new home, it’s smart to identify the plants in the landscape, and it's wise to ask about potential toxicity when buying new plants for your home and yard.

If you are uncertain of a plant's identity, take it to a nursery or florist for identification. It’s a good idea to label plants in the home and throw away leaves as they die and fall.

Mushrooms in the yard need to be picked and disposed of as soon as possible. Tell children not to eat them … they’re not the same mushrooms you buy in a grocery store.

Gardening is often a family activity. Until you use seeds and bulbs, store them safely out of reach of children. And children should not pick any vegetables or fruit without adult supervision.

Basic Tips

By following some basic steps, you can help protect your children and pets from being harmed by toxic plants:

  • Know the names of poisonous plants.
  • Show babysitters and grandparents where to find the list of plant names.
  • Keep dangerous plants out of reach of children and pets.
  • Teach children never to touch or eat plant parts.
  • Teach children that sucking nectar from flowers is unsafe.
  • Never let children suck on jewelry made from decorative beans or seeds.
  • Store labeled bulbs and seeds safely out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Never collect wild herbs to eat or brew as tea, unless you are professionally trained to identify them.
  • Don’t burn toxic plants. Smoke from poison oak, poison ivy and other toxic plants can irritate your eyes, nose, throat and lungs.

Emergency Action

If you, or someone you know has eaten a poisonous plant, contact a physician or the Poison Control Center at 1-800-442-6305 immediately. If the victim is choking and cannot breathe, dial 911. Remove any plant parts from the mouth as quickly as possible and try to determine the following:

  • Can you describe the plant, including the size, shape and arrangement of the leaves?
  • What part of the plant was eaten?
  • What kind of fruit was eaten? Berries? Nuts? Can you describe it in detail — color, firmness, juiciness, etc?
  • Where is the plant growing?

If you are told to go to an emergency room for treatment, take the plant or a portion of the plant with you. Take more than a single leaf or berry. Answer all questions to the best of your knowledge, and follow the advice given by the Poison Control Center or physician.

Do not induce vomiting in a child without consulting a physician or the Poison Control Center. In some cases, vomiting may affect a child's heart rate. Each case needs individual evaluation and The Poison Control Center's recommendations will vary with the amount and time of ingestion.

By dialing 1-800-222-1222, Texas residents have access to a network of nurses, pharmacists, paramedics and physicians who have extensive education, training and expertise in the field of toxicology. If necessary, the staff may refer callers to the nearest hospital and assist in the person’s initial treatment and follow-up care.

NOTE: It's the dose that makes the poison. Just one bite of some plants can be harmful, while with others, it may take eating the entire plant. And remember this … a plant in Pennsylvania may be less — or more — harmful than the same plant in Texas. So before you go vacation, it’s a good idea to learn about native plants.

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Common Toxic and Nontoxic Plants
Lists of safe vs. unsafe plants are never complete and can be hard to understand. Some toxic plants can be mistaken for nontoxic plants in a photograph. The following lists are not all-inclusive.

Bird of Paradise
Calla Lily
Camphor tree
Castor bean
Chinese evergreen
Deadly nightshade
Elephant ear
English laurel
Fruit pits and seeds
Horse chestnut
Hydrangea blossom
Jerusalem cherry
Jimson weed
Laurel cherry
Morning glory
Mountain laurel
Oak tree
Peace lily
Poison hemlock
Potato plant
Rhubarb leaves
Rosary bean
Skunk cabbage
Spider lily
St. Johnswort
Tomato leaves
Virginia creeper
Water hemlock

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Safe Plants
(nontoxic to humans)

It’s important to remember that children and animals can choke on any plant.

African violet
Aluminum plant
Anthurium, Taliflower
Baby tears
Blood leaf
Boston fern
Christmas cactus
Corn plant
Emerald ripple
Parlor palm
Prayer plant

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For more information on plants and tips on poison-proofing your home, visit

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5016 South US Highway 75
Denison, TX 75020
(903) 416-4000

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Note: The information on this website is provided as general health guidelines and may not be applicable to your particular health condition. Your individual health status and any required medical treatments can only be properly addressed by a professional healthcare provider of your choice. Remember: There is no adequate substitution for a personal consultation with your physician. Neither Texoma Medical Center, or any of their affiliates, nor any contributors shall have any liability for the content or any errors or omissions in the information provided by this Web site.The information, content and artwork provided by this website is intended for non-commercial use by the reader. The reader is permitted to make one copy of the information displayed for his/her own non-commercial use. The making of additional copies is prohibited.