Watch out for these poisonous backyard plants

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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Spending time in the backyard can be restorative and relaxing. Is it any wonder why homeowners are increasingly improving their homes to blur the lines between the indoors and outside and enjoy more recreational moments in nature?
Part of what makes a landscape inviting is the bevy of plants dotting suburban landscapes. Individuals may take painstaking pleasure in mapping out functional and appealing landscapes. When selecting foliage, it’s wise for homeowners to familiarize themselves with certain plants that may not be very welcome in their entertaining areas — particularly those that are dangerous. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac may be some of the better-known poisonous plants, but others can also prove problematic.
• Hogweed: This invasive plant grows throughout North America but is particularly well-known along the Atlantic coast. The sap in the leaves can cause phytophotodermatitis, a chemical reaction after exposure to sunlight. Painful, severe blisters can form on the skin wherever it touches, and hogweed sap may cause blindness if it gets into the eyes.
• Lily of the Valley: This plant is known for delicate, bell-shaped flowers and a sweet scent. While Lily of the Valley is not poisonous to touch, toxic glycosides in the flowers, berries, leaves, and stems may cause a host of problems, including disorientation, vomiting, blurry vision, and rashes if ingested.
• Bleeding Heart: Native to woodlands, this perennial loves the shade. It produces unique flowers that resemble tiny pink or white hearts with drops of blood at the bottom. The roots and foliage of Bleeding Heart contain alkaloids that are toxic to animals if ingested in high quantities.
• Nerium Oleander: This beautiful shrub’s parts are all extremely poisonous. It should be kept away from pets and treated with caution or avoided altogether.
• Foxgloves: Adored among pollinators, Foxgloves produce towering pink and white trumpet blooms in early summer. However, the whole plant is toxic if eaten. People who eat any part or attempt to make tea may find their heart rate slowing down or becoming irregular.
• Stinging Nettle: Brushing up against Stinging Nettle can be painful. The plant has tiny stinging hairs on its leaves and stems.
• Wild Hemlock: This is a very poisonous carrot family member. Wild Hemlock, which looks like parsley, can cause health problems if consumed. Toxins also can be absorbed through the skin.
• Deadly Nightshade (Belladonna): A beautiful plant that produces shiny, black cherry-like berries, this contains a poison that can paralyze the gastrointestinal muscles and eventually the heart. The Royal Horticultural Society says that rubbing against it can irritate the skin.
Many plants, however beautiful, can be dangerous if ingested or touched.