These berries contain cardiogenic toxins that serve as a sedative on cardiac muscle tissue. Immediate symptoms include burning of the mouth and throat, salivation, severe stomach cramps, headache, diarrhea, dizziness and hallucinations. Hmmmm. I’ll pass.
Interestingly enough, they got their alternative name, Doll’s Eyes from once being sewn into rag dolls for children as….you guessed it…doll’s eyes. Weird. Actually, the berries look a lot like Hatchimal eyes to me. And if you don’t know what a Hatchimal is then consider yourself quite lucky.
And that’s because the murderers always had such easy access to the poison taxin through this classic evergreen that is a staple around many homes in England. It is the go-to hedge for looks and luxury, not to mention death. Quick recap: Flesh of the berries, okay. Seeds and leaves, highly toxic. Even still, it’s not like I’d be throwing the flesh of these berries in my smoothie any time soon.
Interesting fact. Sometimes, there’s no symptoms at all. Other times (such as in my murder mystery novel) the victims heart rate starts accelerating, then they experience muscle spams and labored breathing as they dramatically stagger and finally collapse to the floor.
And the yew is poisonous to almost all including humans, dogs, cats, horses, cattle and pigs.
Yew is also one of those rare plants where the poison is not destroyed when the plant dies. So when you move those branches via pruning or they move themselves via high winds, bad things are sure to follow.
Okay, then, the good news. There are few, if any known incidents of fatal poisoning in humans in recent times involving a rhododendron plant. Even though this plant is poisonous to many animals as well, cases are rare because animals tend not be graze where rhododendrons are grown. Sadly, they get poisoned when unthinking humans feed, for example, zoo animals the plant growing on the zoo grounds. Not smart on the humans part but maybe the zoo shouldn’t have chosen different decorative plants.
The bad news?! All parts of the plant including the leaves, flowers and the nectar contain toxins with the nectar usually believed to have the highest concentration. Humans poison themselves when when they eat honey made with rhododendron nectar. Why anyone would do this is beyond me.
But those who do poison themselves in this way typically see their gastrointestinal and cardiac problems disappear after about 24 hours. It obviously depends on the amount of nectar consumed. Those unpleasant symptoms include low blood pressure, lowered heart rate and shock, nausea, increased salivation and vomiting, accompanied by dizziness, loss of balance and difficultly breathing. Sounds a lot like a pharmaceutical ad to me.
Short recap. Lavender tea with honey. Yes. Rhododendron tea with honey. No. Never. Still the plant is stunningly gorgeous, just don’t ingest.
Anyhow, ricin is very poisonous to humans, animals and even insects. Rumor is that as few as 5 beans is enough to kill an adult human, but I have not tested this myself and don’t plan too.
Castor oil is produced by pressing ripe seeds that have had their outer covering, also known as a hull removed. It’s this hull that contains the deadly ricin. Castor oil has been used as a medicine for centuries, this brings to mind the Mary Poppins song where the little boy sings about not wanting castor oil or gruel from his prospective nanny. I’m with him! There are much better laxatives and wart removers out there, I’m sure of it.
And yes, if you ingest this plant, even just a smidgen will cause severe and unpleasant gastrointestinal upset, but it’s the heart that takes the greatest toll. It will quickly slow the heart rate and this is the main cause of death. Early symptoms include restlessness and excessive drooling followed by muscle weakness, falling blood pressure and difficulty breathing
Fortunately, its bitter taste is awful and is quickly followed by a burning sensation, numbing of the mouth and all those other icky side effects. BIooms may be gorgeous but it’s unwelcome in my yard as I have small children and pets. Let’s just avoid this one….okay? It’s like I tell my 5-year-old every day, “look but don’t touch mommy’s glass trinkets from Holland.”
Fun factoid? Monkshood was once used by ancient warriors to poison the water of their enemies!
They begin as a green berry, then they change to yellow, orange and finally red when mature. The plant is even more striking when you see one in multiple stages sporting colors in each of these hues at the same time. They certainly look delectable, especially growing alongside blackberries, but they’re not. So if you have bittersweet nightshade growing in your yard, you’ll want to remove it using gloves as the foliage is toxic not to mention prickly.
I’ve witnessed lots of birds nibbling on these berries and you probably have as well if you like to hike.Because the seeds are able to pass through the digestive tracts of many animals including those birds and remain viable, they are spread like wildfire to new locations, enabling this plant (weed) to spread.
Because there’s no gray area with the lovely Angel’s Trumpet plant with flowers that hang like bells. It’s all bad, every last bit of this woody-stemmed bush including the flowers, leaves, seeds and roots are poisonous to both humans and animals.
This plant contains toxic alkaloids that cause poisoning when ingested or absorbed through mucus membranes. So don’t eat it or let it come anywhere near your skin! Side effects include agitation, twitching movement, muscle weakness, drowsiness, dilated pupils, dry mouth, rapid pulse, fever, hallucinations & euphoria and elevated temperature. Don’t rule out coma or death either when up against the evil Angel’s Trumpet.
Besides, this high-maintenance plant likes routine pruning, feeding and watering. You’d have to wear protective clothing, gloves and probably goggles to consider working with it. Even the pruning sheers you’ve used on this plant would then have to be thoroughly washed when finished. Left unwashed, the pruners could actually contaminate your other flowers or worse, your vegetable plants. It’s possible for even gloved hands to get contaminated and for you to be unaware of this. When the gloves come off, just the act of rubbing your eyes or touching your face might send you to the emergency room when the rapid onset of symptoms appear.
It’s even possible for the Angel’s Trumpet to harm through cross-contamination with your edible crops so it can’t be anywhere near your vegetable bed or herb garden.
I had no idea that just touching these tempting buds can irritate the skin. Children in particular are drawn to their vibrant beauty and almost can’t help picking them, but contact with the skin is dangerous. Is this why children’s authors use the lovely larkspur on note cards for kids and in children’s gardening books? Not a good idea!
Rumor has it that it has a bitter and acrid taste, but if you push past that issue and continue to munch, you could actually die from its potent alkaloids. Initially, you’ll feel disoriented with muscle tremors, stiffness, weakness and finally keel over from respiratory paralysis. And don’t rule out paralysis or even death as both are possible.
I found it fascinating that larkspur has been used in the past in some herbal medicines such as anti-parasitics (they go after lice), a cure for asthma and maybe even as a preventative for eye disease.
Guess what’s even more odd? It’s possible still today to get sick off milk contaminated by snakeroot if the cows made that same mistake. Of course, you might get sick and have no idea it was some milk you drank that put you over, let alone milk contaminated by snakeroot. Crazy!
And not to be captain obvious, but obviously eating the plant straight-up can easily lead to death.The symptoms are too numerous to even list, just avoid!
Why’d you consider sucking on the flower is beyond me, but if you do other symptoms include digestive issues, headache, blurred vision and overall confusion. Besides, there are plenty of other edible flowers to choose from, why go with one that will kill you?
Chad Boyd says
Ohh…some very helpful info here! Thank you so much for sharing.
Carol n says
I have foxglove
No problems so far
So many of my favorites are poisonous …
I had no idea about some of these – good to know
Liz Kilcher says
great info, thanks
Barbara Ryan says
The only plant I have is the Rhododendrons. Thank you for all this information
Just proves, research what you eat!
Carolyn Reilly says
Wow, very informative. Beautiful but deadly.
Leo Pierson says
Richard Dinwiddie, Jr. says
Lesley F says
I never realized that Delphiniums are toxic. I also have never been able to grow them in my garden
Michelle Damon says
Good to know – especially for those with pets & little ones!!
Melissa Stinchcomb says
Wow! Great info! Thanks!
Kaley Ward says
So glad I don’t have any of these! I was a little nervous when I started reading it because I wasn’t sure if any of mine would be on there or not.
Joanna Protz says
I grow several of these plants, but I do not eat them. 🙂
Katherine Leo says
Wow thanks good to know
Jennylyn Gross says
good to know thank you
Crystal Abel says
We had Rhododendrons, but we got rid of them because our llama got out one time and ate some and almost died. I put roses in their place.
Oh my goodness, I had no idea. I bought a Delphinium, this summer and now think I will get rid of it. Thank you for the important information.
Jennifer George says
Thanks for the helpful info
Diane Warstler says
Very helpful and no, I don’t grow any of these plants.
Jenni Phillips says
Learning about poisonous plants seems never ending to me.
Amber Lee Kolb says
Oh wow, I had no idea!! There are so many!
Bev J says
Arizona does not allow for these to grow easily!
Betsy Pauzauskie says
I’m guilty of growing azaleas which are poisonous. (All azaleas are rhododrendrons.) Fortunately, that’s the only plant on your list I grow. However, when I checked to be sure azaleas were rhododendrons, I learned that iris plants are toxic too, based on their list of poisonous plants!!! 🙁 I had also been considering planting a hydrangea, which is also poisonous!!! Big Sigh. There will be no hydrangea for me. However, I’ll be keeping what’s in my established beds. I’ll also be aware of those that are toxic now. Thank you.
Thanks for all the info.
Tammy Michelli says
Margaret S Porter says
Thanks for this useful information! I am watching out for these plants!
belinda bell says
It is good to know about all of these plants.
Pam W. says
Thanks for this information.
Sandra McFadden says
Janis C says
Wow! I had no idea that these are toxic and I have several of the ones mentioned here in my garden. I hope my pets and wildlife will instinctively avoid them.
Phyllis Skoglund says
Too think my mother had all of those poisonous plants in her garden .
Laurie Nykaza says
Great information toxic plants are such a problem with pets we always make sure to not plant toxic plants in our yard too..
Pamela Chambers says
I knew about some of these but sure learned about a lot of new ones as well. This is such important info to have for pet owners!
jenna brown says
thanks for the helpful info! im a beginner so i appreciate the advice.
Derek T says
Always good information to have! Thanks!
rita leonard says
Great info. Did not know about many of these plants, especially rhododendrons. Thanks for the info
Cathy Horner says
None of these in my yard. I didn’t realize that wild cherry trees leaves contained cyanide. I cut down the one near my herb garden but left another one further away since the birds seem to like the berries
Colleen Debs says
Thanks for the information. Who would of known?