Poison plant and children

paulsiu(5a)October 13, 2011

Since I now have children, I begin to wonder if I should be careful about plants around the yard. My daughter is too young to get into trouble right now, but it won't be too long before she's running around.

I was wondering what others have done? We should avoid plants that have contact toxin. As Ken pointed out, kids ball will roll into the area. What about ingestion though? I don't recall ever eating plants when we were kids. Our parents were lucky to get us to even eat vegetables.


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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

stay at home dad here ....

your biggest problem time .. is going to be when the babe achieves the ability to walk .. and put every darn thing you find in its mouth ... prior to having the cognizance to think about it beforehand ...

when they are outside .... they should be provided a baggie of food ... animal crackers .. whatever.. and be REPEATEDLY TOLD.. that they eat nothing in the yard.. that doenst come from daddy ... or from the bag ... if they learn this rule.. it doesnt matter what is in the yard ...

insure no pokeweed.. nor belladonna ... of which i just blanked out on the other name ... pretty black berryies that are not good for you .... god whats the other name ... how long does it take a guy to use google.. lol.. nightshade ...

teach them about plants with thorns/pickers/etc ... it usually only takes one prick for them to understand ...

develop garden beds.. with paths if possible.. and teach them about staying out of the actual bed.. and using the 'super secret' paths ....

will continue to ponder such.. and report back ..


    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 8:58AM
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sharoncl(z5 WI)

I kept the toxic plants out of the fenced-in part of the backyard where I let the kids (and the dog) roam freely without a lot of supervision. Like Ken said, teach them early on about plants with thorns and to never put things in their mouths. Also watch for the plants that cause skin irritation (although generally, those are often the plants that are toxic)... when one of my kids was 2 yrs old, he came into the house covered in hives from handling one of the plants.

Now that my kids are older (youngest is 4), of course they know better than to eat plants or berries, but the dog is another story. She is constantly grazing on plants and I always have to be on the lookout for nightshade, which the birds seem to sow with abandon... so I still try to keep the toxic plants in areas that are less accessible.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 10:41AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Totally agree with Ken. There is about an 18 month period of time during which all kids will put anything in their mouth that will fit in their hand. This is the time to give them every "new" food you can.

Poisonous leaves are not usually an issue, but berries are just the right size, LOOK like food, and usually come off of the plant with little effort. Even if you have something that makes poisonous berries, you can just cut them off during those years when Jr. might experiment. Very few things would be fatal from 1 "bite" and something like a pill dropped on the floor, a package of cleaning stuff, a penny, or the little rubber end on a door stop is much more likely to cause problems. Kids are as likely to eat the mulch or a pebble as they are a leaf or berry, you just have to keep an eye on them at all times during that phase, ESPECIALLY outside.

Contact toxins are another issue, and sensitivity varies from person to person. Besides the obvious, poison ivy oak and sumac, some people can get a dermatitis from juniper, grape ivy, nightshade, and many others. Fortunately, these other plants usually require more than being brushed against to cause problems.

Yards down here are full of notoriously poisonous plants like Oleander, Nandina, Lantana, Azalea, Datura, Hedera helix, Passiflora, etc... but I've not heard any news stories about kids being poisoned by them. Just be glad you don't have to worry about rattlesnakes!

If you remove all of the "poisonous plants" from your yard, you might be left with nothing growing at all.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 11:02AM
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terrene(5b MA)

This question is asked all the time, and frankly it's relatively rare for small children to be poisoned from eating plants, and then it's usually wild mushrooms. They are much more likely to be poisoned by cosmetics or personal care products, household cleaners, or prescription medications. And yet how many people with children remove all of these from their house?

Not that you shouldn't be cautious. Ken has some good ideas above. Part of it will depend on the personality of your child. My son is a picky eater and was naturally cautious, and probably never even considered eating anything strange. I had a hard enough time getting him to eat food!

Interesting link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Poisoning statistics

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 11:10AM
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mytime(3/4 Alaska)

With 2 children and 6 grandchildren, there are only 2 things I've worried about and keep out of the yard until the kids are a little older...poisonous mushrooms (we have amanitas, and I'm not so worried about them eating them as just picking them because they're pretty and then putting their hands in their mouths; doing that probably wouldn't hurt them, but why take a chance...so I always pick them and toss them out of range of anyone young enough to not understand "POISON") and poisonous berries (we have baneberries, so I just always cut the bloom stalk off as soon as I see it). As others have said, kids don't generally eat leaves. And if they did, at the age at which they would, you'd most likely be right there by them if they were within range of your plants. I've been far more worried about the grandkids tripping and hitting their heads on my rock borders, poking their eyes out with sticks, etc., so they're usually kept in the middle of the lawn unless we're right with them.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 3:37PM
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perennialfan273(zone 5)

I just found this from the University of Vermont Extension. It contains a list of perennials commonly grown. You should probably check your yard to see if you have any of these.

ALL of them are dangerous, but monkshood (aconitum) and foxglove (digitalis) are especially dangerous (foxglove can even KILL people if ingested).

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 1:44AM
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    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 1:50AM
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I don't grow castor bean plant anymore even though my kids are too big to have to worry about. It only takes one bean to do some major damage in a small animal or child. When the plant gets tall, it's hard to keep deadheaded and I just decided it's not worth the risk.
I think you have to eat quite a few pokeberries to get sick but I keep those out of my back yard where the dogs are. (My newest dog is the one I worry about. He eats everything) I have some nandina in my back yard and I remove the berries from that just in case. I think I'm going to have to move my iris too since he's dug those up a couple times.
If I see toad stools, I toss them over the fence. Some types of those are very toxic although I couldn't i.d. which ones.

Most kids wouldn't eat green leaves outside but you have to know your own child. If she's the type to put everything in her mouth, you have to be extra careful, inside and out, at friends' or relatives' homes etc.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 7:25AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

as stated above.. if you remove every risk.. you might not have anything left ... but grass.. and if you remove all the risk of keeping a nice lawn.. you will have a dandylion field ...

just train the child ... they end up smarter than dogs ...

also.. i had a foldable graco playpen [see link] ... that spent more time in the yard ... but mine had a shade top with bug screen... and two wheels .. the kids were always with me in the yard ... and when i needed to concentrate on something.. in they went ...

when they got full attention.. out they came .. its really about your attention span.. rather than baby proofing the world ... isolate them.. when you need to do something.. when your attention is diverted ... but they can still be with you ...

since i usually got most done when they napped.. they napped in the yard while i worked .. the 13 year old still falls asleep in the yard.. lol ... i felt too guilty to leave them napping in the house.. while i was out of ear shot outdoors ... until they got older ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 9:49AM
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I agree, purpleinopp,
We have to watch them every minute & should never put any poison things near them.
When they are old enough teach them that if you do not know it is safe then it is poison until it is proven safe.
Tomato plants are toxic & in the poisonous Nightshade family with peppers, white potatoes,egg plant & belladonna.
Check "Peterson Guide of poisonous plants" out of the Liberty. It is the main book I used when I taught Boy Scout about poison plants.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 12:14AM
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kimka(Zone 6B)

In almost all cases, it requires eating a good bit of a plant to get poisoned (except mushrooms as people have mentioned). Azaleas are considered poisonous; their leaves contain alkaloid. But almost every poisonous plants also tastes terrible. Kids and fawns take one bite and spit the leaves/flowers right out.

If azaleas were going to kill children; there would be no next generation in the DC metro area where there is a hedge of azaleas in every other yard.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 4:53PM
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There is a short list of plants that are REALLY toxic, like plumerias and castor beans. I wouldn't plant these in my hard if I had small children.

But the majority of plants considered poisonous might cause a mild allergic reaction or maybe a stomach ache, but aren't deadly, and even more often is that they'd have to eat a salad-sized amount of the plant to have any adverse reaction at all. You have to look up what is poisonous about the plant and why. For example, a lot of tree leaves are mildly toxic, but you don't see kids gorging themselves on leaves and you never see any experts recommending you cut down everything in your yard because your kids might eat them.

If children were really prone to be poisoned by plants I think we'd hear about it more often. Instead, the most common plant poisonings we find out about are teenagers intentionally eating copious amounts of something rumored to be hallucinogenic and ending up hospitalized.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 2:22AM
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