Children: Which Plants to Avoid

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Children: Which Plants to Avoid

This article is contributed by Emma Trevisani. She runs a Blackheath cleaning service company but she spend most of her summer spare time in her private garden.


Bright colours, shiny leaves, tempting little fruits – all this makes some plants an irresistible attraction, especially for children, who discover the world by looking, touching, smelling and tasting everything they are able to reach. However, the beautiful plants in your garden at home can be seriously dangerous to the health and life of your children, because there are many that are poisonous and may provoke allergic reaction and anaphylactic shock.

Many doctors say that there are more than 4,000 children poisonings due to tasting some poisoning plants. The frequency of these cases is bigger during the spring and summer when plants are particularly lush and diverse. However, parents must be careful throughout the whole year and should not underestimate the risks that their garden has for their children.

When your child starts walking around the house and garden and starts discovering how interesting the world is, without even paying attention to the dangers around them, you must take some measures in order to avoid any risks. So, in order to be calm and respond adequately to different situations, you not only need to know the plants in your home and garden, but also know how to react in cases when your child has tasted a poisonous plant. Knowing the poisonous plants and the symptoms they cause, as well are the necessary first aid measures can prevent or minimize some serious health issues and prove life-saving if your child swallowed a piece of a poisonous plant.

Make sure you talk to your children about the risks and danger that certain flowers hide, show them the plants that they must not taste in any way and explain them why.

Here is a list of some beautiful but also pretty poisonous plants that you should be careful with:

Oleander (Nerium oleander)

All parts of the plant are poisonous, especially the leaves. The symptoms of poisoning are: gastrointestinal complaints – abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhoea, and rarely abnormal heart rhythm. What should you do? Make your child drink plenty of fluids and give them some charcoal pastilles.

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)

The red seeds of the plant, its blossoms and young leaves are primarily poisonous. The symptoms of poisoning are: nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, and rare heart rhythm disorders. What should you do? Seek some medical help and give your kid some charcoal pastilles.

Belladonna (Atropa belladonna)

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All parts of this plant are very poisonous, so make sure you keep your children away from it. The symptoms of poisoning are: dilated pupils, sense of dry mouth, rapid heartbeat and hallucinations, overheated body and skin. What should you do? If your child has swallowed parts of the plant, go to the nearest hospital the fastest way you can.

Datura (Datura stramonium)

Datura is a highly-toxic plant, because all of its parts are very poisonous, and even lethal when taken at higher doses. The plant contains alkaloids, which usually lead to hallucinations. The symptoms of poisoning are: reddish, hot and dry skin, dilated pupils, vomiting, diarrhoea, thirst, confusion and inadequacy, heart disorders, etc. If your kid has swallowed some parts of the plan go to the hospital immediately!

Yellow acacia (Cytisus laburnaum)

The flowers and seeds of this plant, which look like small beans, are highly poisonous. The symptoms of poisoning are: a burning sensation in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, trembling and life-threatening circulatory collapse, accompanied by shortness of breath and respiratory arrest. That is why you shouldn’t wait or try to deal with the symptoms yourself but go to the nearest hospital immediately.

Yellow jasmine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Yellow jasmine is actually one of the twenty most poisonous plants in the world, which inevitably raises the question why there are so many people who grow this plant in their garden. All parts of the plant contain strychnine, which is a highly-toxic substance and may provoke skin irritation. The nectar of the plant is toxic even for the bees, so be careful if you grow it in your garden.

Pokeweeds (Phytolacca)

This plant contains some toxic substances such as phytolaccatoxin and phytolaccigenin, which may cause itching, vomiting, shortness of breath, sweating, tremors, diarrhoea and seizures. When the poisoning is severe, the toxins may cause slow breathing, dizziness, coma and even death.

First aid measures for plant poisoning

1. Find the plant that your child has swallowed and take some leaves, blossoms and seeds for samples if necessary.

2. Make your child drink a large amount of fluids. Don’t give them any milk or carbonated drinks.

3. Make the child rinse their mouth and wash their skin.

4. Go to the nearest hospital as fast as you can.

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