Toxic Pieris (mountain fire)

gintreesSeptember 21, 2011

I hoped to plant a mountain fire pieris by our deck, but read that it is very toxic. The rabbits drive me nuts, but I don't want to kill them. And the nectar is toxic also, so what about butterflies, bees and hummingbirds?

I'd like to keep it because it's such a nice looking plant. But I would put it away from where the dog or kids could reach. Is it unwise to keep it?

This is a sample of what I read.

Please give me some educated opinions.





Poisonous Part

Leaves and nectar from flowers.


Tingling sensation, salivation, nose and eyes watering, nausea, vomiting, sweating, abdominal pain, headache, weakness, convulsions; may be fatal.

Toxic Principle




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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i dont understand the problem???

are you suggesting.. that you have so few plant choices that your life can not go on.. if you dont keep/get this plant in your yard???

if it bothers you.. GET RID OF IT ... or dont buy it

otherwise... i found out that if i fed my kids well enough .. they didnt really need to graze the garden ... lol .. and the first thing they learned when they could talk.. was not to put anything in the garden in their mouth ... unless daddy gave it to them ...

i wouldnt care if a bunny was to stupid to not know better [which i doubt] ..

same with the dog .... as it should be trained enough to stay out of your garden ...

as to the bees... how would this thing go to seed.. w/o a pollinator ... etc ...

me thinks you doth protest to much.. frankly.. everything in your garden is toxic.. one way or another...

but if you cant live with the risk.. all the power to ya.. but dont tell me you cant live w/o it ... is there a psyche forum .. lol .. this isnt about the plant.. as much as you worrying about it ... and you will NEVER enjoy this plant.. if you get it .... so why bother....


ps: know why monarch butterflies are so wildly colored??? because they are highly poisonous to birds.. and the color keeps the birds away ... mother nature has a way of taking care of these things ... but she can do nothing about you 'worrying' about it all ...

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 3:38PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Rabbits etc won't eat it. It won't hurt butterflies and other pollinators. Pollinators visit poisonous and non poinsonous plants alike with no problem. If you're worried that children will eat it, keep in mind that many of our most common shrubs are highly poisonous--the ubiquitous yews, for example, and I for one have never heard of a child dying from grazing on yews. But if it really scares you, get rid of it.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 6:32AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

If we removed all of the poisonous plants from our yards, there wouldn't be much left. For example, "Like many other nightshades, tomato leaves and stems contain atropine and other tropane alkaloids that are toxic if ingested." (copied from Wiki.)

Have you seen your dog munching on bushes? Do you worry your kids would do that? This shrub seems less risky than others since the part kids usually put in their mouth is the seed which isn't included as a toxic part in what you pasted. If the kids are small enough that you still worry about them putting stuff in their mouth, you'll be watching them anyway.

Bunnies will be too busy eating your flowers closer to the ground to bother with this shrub. I wish no harm to the bunnies, either, but plenty of people would be happy if they did all die. If getting rid of them was as easy as planting a Pieris, it wouldn't be a well-kept secret.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 10:50AM
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Thanks for the input. Except Ken. I could have done without the attitude. My dog is the type that finds trouble. She almost died from eating a pill she found under a lazyboy at a house we were visiting. All concerns may not be unfounded.

The other comments were the type of help I expected, thank you. So I do plan to plant the pieris out of the dog's reach, but I will keep it. The more I looked, I saw that there are a lot of common plants that are toxic, including the cardinal flower I just put in for the hummingbirds.

I better get to work. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 12:06PM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

>Pollinators visit poisonous and non poinsonous plants alike with no problemLinden trees and California buckeye are known to intoxicate bees when in flower.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 12:37PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

The info you posted re its toxicicty is for people who eat it. Wildlife has different tolearnces.

Bottom lines:
- If you want it, keep it.
- If you're going to be wigged out by what you read, get rid of it.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2011 at 2:37PM
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Except for a few exceptions (eg. Monkshood), the horrible taste of many toxic plants will stop the human grazer long before they eat enough to hurt themselves. Same usually applies for dogs.

As for your bunnies, they have co-existed with Mountain Pieris in eastern NA for many millennium. If a plant were going to kill off bunnies, it would have happened already. Llamas aren't so lucky though, I hear the NPS had to change supply routes in Smoky Mountain NP b/c the SA natives were grazing & dying on their trips into the park.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 3:32PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Sounds like you've reached a good compromise, gintrees. We simply have to use some common sense about the plants we have in our yards and gardens. You'll find, as you explore the topic further, that a great many very common plants have toxic pieces and parts.

My family had a dog for a long time who always had her nose to the ground, seeking out anything that wasn't glued down. Cinnamon was her real name (she was a dark red dachshund) but we all called her Hoover. ;-)

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 4:18PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I could have done without the attitude.

==>>> the only attitude there was.. was to spend 10 minutes writing you a reply ...

if you feel you need an apology .. so be it ... I AM SORRY

potato plants are poisonous also ..


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 6:38PM
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