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Poisonous Holiday Plants To Be Aware Of

December 6th, 2011

The holidays are here, and it is certain that no one wants to unknowingly place a potentially poisonous plant on his or her holiday table or mantle this year.  While decorative holiday plants provide beauty and cheer, some plants may cause health problems and can even be dangerous for children and pets.

Undoubtedly, the Poinsettia has caused the most alarm over the years.  Many feel it could contribute to poisoning and even death in pets and children if consumed. Ironically, this plant has never been proven to cause death, and some feel it is not the hazardous plant we’ve all assumed it to be.  However, it has been attributed to irritating the mouth and stomach, causing mild diarrhea and nausea, and sometimes vomiting. Therefore, it may be best to keep this ubiquitous holiday plant away from children and pets unless supervised.

Holly, a low growing evergreen with vibrant scarlet berries, has been used as a holiday decoration for hundreds of years.  Yet eating the berries can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and nausea.  Children and pets seem drawn to bright red berries and are sometimes tempted to take a bite.  Therefore, keep this evergreen away from them.

One of the most toxic plants used during the holidays is the Jerusalem Cherry.  This plant has white star-like flowers in the summer and fall, and scarlet flowers in the winter months.  While beautiful, every part of this plant is toxic to humans and animals.  Therefore, this plant is best for those without children or pets at home.

While charming to kiss under, the Mistletoe has some toxic substances within the plants’ leaves and berries that can cause mild to severe stomach upset.  To enjoy this plant without worry; either hang it out of reach, or wrap the plant in a plastic bag or netting.

A live Christmas tree is for the most part non-toxic, but do be aware that the needles can cause obstructions in an animal’s stomach, which may require emergency care.  Some pets (especially cats) mistake the Christmas tree water as his or her new watering hole – so keep an eye on that
as well.  The preservative rich and sugary water may cause mild stomach upset.

Yews, Jequirity Beans, Lilies and Christmas Roses can cause considerable stomach ailments and hallucinations, which could ultimately
lead to emergency care if consumed.  If you have pets or small children, these plants should not be purchased.

Tips To Keeping Your Family Safe:

1. Never consume any part of an unidentified plant.

2. Never place jewelry in or near your mouth (including children and pets) if made from an unknown plant

3. Never attempt to brew your own natural tea unless you are certain of the plant you are using and the recipe.

4. Never allow children to play near poisonous plants without supervision.

6. Store your seeds, bulbs, soil and tubers out of the reach of children.

Luckily, not every decorative plant has the potential to harm your loved ones and dear pets. The Christmas Cactus, Pyracantha, Christmas Orchids, and Amaryllis are all festively colored, non-toxic, and make for gorgeous decorations or centerpieces this time of year.

 

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