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Be Aware Of Poisonous Plants in the Landscape

Sunday, June 2, 2024

While gardeners make landscape plant selections for colors and foliage, it’s important to remember that some plants are dangerous/poisonous. People have lived in close proximity to hundreds of such plants over the years that can cause irritation, illness or even death.


Over the years, many new plants have been introduced into gardens from their native habitats. Although some are considered extremely poisonous, a far greater number are moderately poisonous, producing varying degrees of illness or irritation. Some plants may cause dermatitis, sneezing or other illnesses because of the allergic sensitivity of the person rather than the direct toxicity and contact with the plant.


Just because a plant is poisonous doesn’t mean it is all bad. Many poisonous plants are useful and will continue to be used. However, everyone needs to be aware of the potential danger of these plants. Due to their curiosity, young children tend to put things in their mouths as a way of exploring and learning. Consequently, young children are the most common victims of poisonous garden plants. Occasionally pets will nibble on plants in the garden which could lead to sickness.


Be familiar with any poisonous plants growing in your yard or neighborhood. Teach children not to eat any plant parts, including leaves, seeds or flowers. Of course, children should learn that some parts of vegetable plants are edible. As a parent or guardian, it’s your responsibility to protect children against poisoning by teaching them not to eat or drink medicines, pesticides, cleaning solvents, chemicals and even plants.


Despite education and precautions, accidents do happen. Therefore, be prepared in case of emergency. The following steps are recommended as first aid treatment for swallowed poisons.

  • Call the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information at (800) 222-1222. It’s a good idea to store this number in your cell phone.
  • Don’t give the victim anything to eat or drink before calling the poison Control center or calling a doctor.
  • Do not make the victim throw up or give ipecac syrup unless a doctor or the poison Control center tells you to.
  • If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911.

The Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information exists to provide information concerning the prevention and management of potential toxic exposures to the people of Oklahoma. The center's goal is to save lives and provide cost-effective service to patients and Oklahomans by promoting the appropriate use of healthcare resources. A brochure on poisonous plants is available on the website, along with other valuable information.


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