A List of Some Common Poisonous Garden Plants

Deadly nightshade

Sometimes the most innocent looking of garden plants can be deadly. While most garden plants would do little harm if ingested, there are many that can cause digestive upset or are skin irritants and some that could be a threat to life. It is important that we are aware of these poisonous plants and take any necessary precautions to protect ourselves, our families and our pets. Some poisonous plants can be beautiful as ornamentals but it is important to be informed so as to make sure that no accidents occur. This is by no means a comprehensive list and of course it is important to avoid ingestion of anything that you are not 100% sure that you can identify. It is also important to wear gloves when handling any plants you do not know. Here, however, are some poisonous plants that are commonly found in gardens:

Poisonous Flowers & Leaves:

  • RhododendronRhododendron – all parts of the rhododendron are extremely poisonous to humans (and dogs) and any part, flowers or leaves, if ingested, can lead to coma and death.
  • Lily of the Valley – these pretty, sweet-smelling plants can cause severe problems with only a tiny bite and ingestion can, again, lead to coma and death.
  • Hydrangea – this is another common garden plant that can be deadly. The poison is a cyanogenic glycoside which causes a drop in blood pressure and potentially convulsions and death.

  • FoxglovesFoxglove – The entire plant can be deadly, especially the leaves high up on the stem. While digitalin, digitoxin and digitonin are used medicinally, ingesting the plant can cause extreme heart problems and even death if left untreated.
  • Larkspur – These flowers may be beautiful to look at but they are definitely not for eating. The entire plant contains toxic alkaloids though the young leaves and mature seeds are the most dangerous.
  • Oleander – Nerium oleander can be extremely dangerous as it can serious harm and even kill with just a single leaf. The whole plant is poisonous, including the nectar and sap.
  • Deadly Nightshade (and family) – While most people are aware of Belladonna or Deadly nightshade as a poisonous plant, few realise that some common food plants are in the same plant family. Potato and tomato foliage, for example, should never be eaten.
  • Daffodil bulbsNarcissus, Daffodils – While daffodil bulbs are not the most deadly of poisons, it seems they account for many accidental poisonings each year, most of which occur when people mistake the bulbs for onions.
  • Bluebell (Hyacinthoides) – Bluebells are also poisonous and can also resemble spring onions, which is the reason why they are accidentally eaten. Like daffodil bulbs, eating them can cause severe digestive upset.
  • Mistletoe – All parts of mistletoe are poisonous but especially the berries. Ingestion can cause severe digestive problems which have even led to death in humans and can also be particularly of concern for pets.
  • Laburnum – laburnum poisoning often occurs when kids mistake the unripe seed pods for peas or beans.
  • Yew – All parts of the yew tree except the outer flesh of the berries are poisonous and can cause death without interceding symptoms within a few hours.

Remember, this is only a very incomplete list. Always teach children not to eat anything from the garden that you have not given them express permission to eat and take care to protect pets from danger.