Yes – it’s true – even your garden is out to kill you! While there is plenty of good growing in your garden, there are still plenty of flowers and plants in the undergrowth which could actually do you some serious harm. Many green-fingered enthusiasts know exactly what to look for, but to those of us who barely know our way around a lawnmower, there are always a few things worth looking out for.
In this fact file, we’re going to take a glance at some of the most poisonous garden growths – and common garden poisons – which you should do your best to avoid at all costs.
If you feel that you have been in contact with any of the following garden poisons, or are suffering ill-effects, make sure to contact a medical professional as soon as possible. In the UK, you should call 111 in the event of a non-emergency, and of course 999 if you feel your life is in danger.
Ever taken castor oil? You may well have – but while the extract from the castor oil plant is perfectly safe to take as a supplement, the plant is incredibly poisonous. Why? It’s known to contain intensely poisonous seeds, which are rich in ricin – if you accidentally swallow this protein, you’re going to be in a lot of pain.
Wisteria is a common plant which you’ll find climbing up and down many gardens in the UK. However, while they won’t harm people, you’ll need to be careful that your pets don’t eat any of its pods. They are known to be toxic to many different animals.
Mistletoe, while a lovely plant to sprig up around Christmas, is actually pretty toxic. Studies are ongoing if mistletoe is actually the cause of anything fatal, but it’s thought to cause a few stomach problems, and may even cause hallucinogenic experiences. Again, it’s best to keep pets away from it.
Dieffenbachia, sometimes called elephant ear, is a striking looking plant which packs a really nasty punch. Handling it can irritate your skin and swallowing any part of this plant could cause airway swelling. Probably best to keep eating greens you know are safe!
Rhubarb – yes, delicious, sweet, and perfectly edible rhubarb – has poisonous leaves. That is, if you consume a lot of them, you may do your kidneys serious damage – so it’s probably best to just eat the stalks, the tastiest part.
Foxgloves are perhaps some of the best-known garden poisoners. They look spectacular – and make a fantastic difference to the look of many flowerbeds and garden spaces. However, eating them is never recommended. Believe it or not, they share plenty in common with heartmedicine – meaning a nibble on a foxglove could send you to the ER.
Oleander is a beautiful plant which you will no doubt recognise by sight, if not by name. However, keep your children away from its intensively toxic properties. Its leaves are known to cause heart slowing and loss of stability when ingested. Again, what’s wrong with sticking to lettuce and cabbage?
Wolfsbane is one of the most brutal plants you’ll find growing across the UK – while Foxgloves might harm you if you (rather daftly) choose to eat them, Wolfsbane will harm you if even so much as touch them with a cut or wound. This is a plant which will turn your stomach and might even slow your heart to a grind.
Tobacco – believe it or not – has extremely poisonous leaves. Yes – it’s unlikely you’ll have tobacco growing in your garden, but it’s still worth learning about! In fact, it’s not just the leaves which are toxic to eat – but the whole plant is full of deadly toxins. One of them, nicotine, you may have heard of! Essentially, tobacco is thought to kill more people worldwide each year than any other plant.
Poinsettia is a gorgeous seasonal plant which many people bring into the home in wintertime. However, some of it really should be kept at arm’s length. Specifically, the sap in a poinsettia is likely to cause stomach problems and vomiting. It’s unlikely to kill an adult human but keep an eye on the little ones – as well as your pets.
Do you have any interesting facts about garden poisons that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!