How dangerous are eggplant leaves?

lavender_lass(4b)February 17, 2010

I know tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and potatoes are all the same family...related to nightshades. I've also read that they're somewhat poisonous and children should not eat the leaves. A garden book I recently got from the library had a special warning that eggplants were toxic, but did not include this on the tomatoes, peppers or potatoes. Are eggplants more toxic, or did the book just miss the obvious?

I'd like to know, since I have nieces and nephews that help in the garden. I'm thinking of putting the tomatoes, eggplants and peppers (along with some herbs and marigolds) in a separate garden, against the house, this year. (I'm not growing potatoes this year, but hope to next year in a bigger garden space with corn and pumpkins.) The heat from the house would be good for the plants and the kids wouldn't be able to get near them without me noticing. Am I overeacting, or are these plants dangerous?

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Eggplant leaves are pretty rough. I doubt that anybody likes to eat that. Even deer have left them alone in my garden. And I don't think touching them is a problem. Plus kids should be wearing gloves in the garden anyhow. There are bacteria and other things in the soil that they shouldn't be touching.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 3:05PM
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I was more concerned about them eating them, but gloves are always a good idea in the garden!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 3:18PM
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I guess I would be more worried about my kids being snatched form the garden by terrorists than them eating enough tomato / eggplant leaves to do any harm. LOL!! Take a taste sometime, they're pretty bitter.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 3:44PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Kids don't usually browse and munch through the plant leaves in the garden like animals do. Unless someone gives them the idea - makes a big deal out of telling them to NOT do that - then of course that's exactly what they will do. ;)

But if one was silly enough to eat one of them then yes, they are quite toxic just as all the other members of that family are and depending on how much of it they ate a trip to the emergency room would be required.

Contact dermatitis from the leaves, just as with tomatoes, is far more common.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 3:46PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

My Mom let me "help" in the garden from pretty much birth and informed me of the wrongness of putting certain foliage into my mouth. So I never did. Got to tell you, eggplant leaves are hairy, sometimes prickly, tough, and smell bad when you crush them so that would have to be one determined kid to stick one in the mouth. They are safe to touch. And unless you have kitties that use the garden as a litter box, I wouldn't be too worried about bacteria in the soil. We are all exposed to billions of different bacteria all the time and frankly it isn't really prudent to try to sanitize the entire world. Just teach the kids about garden safety and keep an eye on them! :) Oh and the only actual reference to a toxin in eggplant leaves I could find was a statement that they contain nicotine, and 20 lbs of leaves equal the nicotine in 1 cigarette. I think there are other alkloids in them, though. Cheers!


    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 3:52PM
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    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 4:19PM
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Thanks for the responses. I do have barn kitties and my horses provide the fertilizer, so gloves are a good idea.

The reason I was asking, is these are not my children, but nieces, nephews and friends' kids, who may not have gardens at home.

Good to know that the leaves are so unappealing. My biggest concern was the bambino eggplant I was hoping to put with the mini-veggies. I already ordered the seeds, but I can use them in the tomato garden. The heat from the house is probably a good idea for the tomatoes and all the eggplants, since it's pretty cool here at night sometimes. They may not do well even then, but I thought it would be fun to try some :)

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 5:10PM
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spiced_ham(z5 OH)

BTW, pepper leaves are edible.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 7:27PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

"Plus kids should be wearing gloves in the garden anyhow. There are bacteria and other things in the soil that they shouldn't be touching."

Was there ever a kid who grew up without playing in dirt with his/her bare hands????? ROTFLMAO!!!!


    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 10:12PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yeah, come on folks. Let's get real. Next you'll be putting the kids in hazmat suits!

Gardening is done in the dirt and kids love dirt. But germaphobics probably shouldn't indulge in gardening.

And barn cats and horse manure pose no threat to kids or far too many of us country folk wouldn't survive our childhoods. Nor would our kids and grandkids.


    Bookmark   February 17, 2010 at 11:05PM
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Amen Dave.

Also, you have to keep teaching your kids what not to eat or do and tell them about consequences. And when they are TOO young you must superwise them.
There are more poisonous stuff in the air, water, canned foods etc than plants in the garden.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 3:10AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

If the kids are old enough to help in the garden, they're old enough not to be stuffing everything they see into their mouths.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 6:20AM
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THANK YOU DIGDIRT!....for restoring some faith in the coming generations. LORDY...what ever happened to mud pies, playing army with dirt clods, building forts, or digging for fishing worms? Shoot, many folks STILL eat dirt and swear by the health properties. Even saw good old GA clay packaged for sale FOR EATING. They swear it settles the stomach and is just full of minerals. Maybe I'm too old, but it seems the little darlings would do better out playing in the dirt with absolutely NO toys, so that they actually have to think and interact, than in front of TV's and computers being entertained. If folks want a crusade to stop something or keep it from kids, STOP the sale of Castor Beans, Pennyroyal, and plants that HAVE killed many and are proven to be dangerous, but if a kid comes home without being covered head to foot to dirt...send them back outside to try again!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 8:13AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

As kids, we did a lot of things more dangerous than playing in the dirt and, in most cases, suffered nothing worse than a bee sting or the occasional broken arm.

We were told, "you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die".


    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 11:15AM
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susancol(7 Atlanta)


I see you mention that GA clay is for sale as a stomach soother. You are absolutely correct, and I thought I would add some more info on that. The reason is specifically because the clay around NE GA and Western SC contains high amounts of the mineral Kaolin.

Uses of Kaolin include:

A folk medicine use is to soothe an upset stomach, similar to the way parrots (and later, humans) in South America originally used it.[13]

Kaolin is, or has been, used as the active substance in liquid anti-diarrhea medicines such as Kaomagma and Kaopectate, and Pepto Bismol. Such medicines were changed away from aluminium substances due to a scare over Alzheimer's disease[citation needed], but have since changed back to compounds containing aluminium as they are more effective. Kaolin is known in Traditional Chinese Medicine by the name ³à ïì (ch¨¬ sh¨ª zh¨©), "crimson stone resin" in a direct translation. Its taste is sweet, astringent and warm. In traditional Chinese medicine, it's used for restricting leakage from intestines and stopping diarrhea, blood containment and stopping bleeding, wounds healing.

But, if you're not in the NE GA area, I wouldn't go randomly eating just any GA clay. Unless you just like the taste of it. :)


    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 12:32PM
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heather38(6a E,Coast)

"you have to eat a peck of dirt before you die". my brother says, they don't tell you the interval between the eating of said dirt and the act of dying... haha.
I make my kids play outside, and am glad I am not alone in leaving them to get on with it, it is amazing how they use their imaginations to use stuff to make games and stories, on and "worm houses" my husband panics, and hates them being dirty,
in the summer the clean up is part of the fun, they get covered from head to toe in dirt and before Dad comes home, we used the hose to hose them down, by me "catching" them, whilst they run round screaming and laughing, I have also done this with a watering can, when hose pipe ban is on, just a little harder on the old legs :-). they then strip off outside and come in for a quick shower, for the bits of grass.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 12:46PM
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I think it's great that kids play in the dirt and get dirty. We did, in our back yard, which didn't include rusty metal wire, old farm machinery, plastic bailing twine (sometimes attached to rusty wire) and old stirofoam (no idea where this comes from). This has been a working farm for a century and there's all kinds of junk that comes up out of the clay...including parts of machinery.

That being said...I always wear gloves in my garden. That and the aged horse manure is a good reason to do so. The vegetable garden is going into an area that has been horse pasture for a number of years. I'm hoping to find most of the surprises when I rototill, edge the beds and prepare the walkways, but just in case, I wear gloves. I also think it's a good idea that the older kids wear gloves. The little ones play in the garden, but have pots for their plants and plastic garden tools, which would break in the clay.

However, running around in their own backyards, making mudpies and getting covered with dirt sounds like a lot of fun :)

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 4:16PM
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