Friday, November 30, 2012

Eat This Not That --Poisonous Plants For People and Pets

Holiday Hazards?  If you've pulled this blog up because Uncle Bo just ate the Amaryllis, call Poison Control immediately.  At 1-800-222-1222, calls are taken 24 hours, 7 days per week by trained nurses, pharmacists or doctors. 

When my oldest daughter was in elementary school, fine dining always came with some apprehension. We learned to seat her  back facing towards rest of the world while we pretended not to notice the salad deliberately stuck to her nose.  It was (and is) always interesting...

Once a plate came with an allium tucked next to the chicken nuggets.  The stunned waiter's eyes nearly popped from his head as our girl scooped the bloom off the plate and swallowed it with a satisfied "pop."  She also drank perfume once.  After calling the above number we determined she'd be okay. Still, her breath smelled quite nice. 

Before heading out to the flower garden to gather supper for the family it's good to know in advance if the plant is edible, on the bellyache list -- or worse.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Most plants toxic to humans and livestock are also poisonous for the family pet.  The Michigan State University Extension Service publishes an extensive list of dangerous plants and parts. 

The list is long and some "potentially lethal" plants are unexpected and fairly common:
  • Apple seeds--In large quantities can cause severe symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, and worse.
  • Bleeding Heart--potentially lethal in large quantities.
  • Boxwood--Tummy troubles
  • Not for salad use!
  • Daffodil/Crocus/Tulips--Entire plant, mainly the bulbs, potentially lethal.
  • Hydrangea--Flowers and leaves, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea
  • Snow On the Mountain -- Itchy dermatitis caused by contact with the milky sap.
Keep blood and bone meal, insecticides and fertilizer away from pets. 

Don't assume that pretty holiday plants are exempt from the danger list:
  • Christmas Rose/Hellebores -- Stomache upset and nervous/heart conditions.
  • Holly -- The leaves and berries can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Poinsettia --Sap is a skin irritant, only one reported death in 1919. 

Still,  before running to the yard and ripping up half the flower bed, rest assured that the children and Ralph the dog have coexisted peaceably for years, with nearly the entire list above--and narry a belly ache.  Casey survived her allium appetizer.  Most four legged creatures are naturally avoidant of toxic plants and blooms.  Not that Ralph is discerning about what he eats from the yard, by any means.

Best practice?  Get salad fixings from the market and table arrangements from the yard.

As for those squirrels who dig up my carefully placed daffodil bulbs--pass the Pepto Bismol buddies!

More Articles of Interest:

To Hellebores and Back

Hey! Look What Survived the Winter in My Garden?

Perpetual Poinsettia