3 Dangerous & Poisonous Plants for Kids

Some of the most beautiful indoor and outdoor plants are actually poisonous and dangerous to children. While consuming a single bite of some plants may not always produce symptoms worse than a stomachache, other plants can have much more serious effects. Poisoning can occur from more than just eating the leaves, stems, berries, bark, or blossom parts of a plant. Coming in contact with, or consuming, the sap, roots, juices, soil, or even drinking the water from the plant tray, can all cause severe poisoning symptoms.

Always be sure to have the phone number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers {1 (800) 222-1222) and your nearest emergency and urgent care centers numbers listed by all your phones. If you do need to go to the hospital, try to take a few pieces of the plant with you to help with identification and appropriate treatment.

Here are three common, yet dangerous, plants to keep out of the hands of children:

Deadly nightshade

(Atropa belladonna)

Often confused with European Nightshade (solanum nigrum), the irresistible round purplish-black berries on this plant are extremely toxic. Consuming the berries of this plant can cause sleepiness, flushing of the face, fever, stomach cramping, vomiting, severe confusion, and vivid disorienting hallucinations.

Deadly nightshade
Source: Wikimedia

The confusion between the two “Nightshade” plants gives yet another reason to never identify plants by their common names. Where a plant may be understood to be poisonous in one culture, in others, the same common name may be a choice edible – beware!

Common pink oleander and yellow oleander

(Nerium oleander) and (Thevetia peruviana)

hough these pink and yellow fragrant flowering shrubs look attractive, and are even often planted in schoolyards, every part of this plant is poisonous. A small child can experience adverse symptoms from merely handling the flowers and leaves of the plant – though it usually takes more elaborate contact to produce the most severe symptoms.

Common pink oleander
Common pink oleander; Source: pixabay.com

Upon consumption, symptoms of poisoning include intestinal issues like pain and cramping, vomiting, diarrhea (at times bloody), excessive salivating, disorientation, irregular heartbeat, tremors, seizures, dilated pupils, and coma leading to death.

Lily of the valley

(Onvallaria majalis)

This lightly scented flowering plant features bell shaped blooms. Consuming a little bit may not hurt much, but consuming a lot can produce symptoms that include; pain in the mouth, pain and cramping of the stomach and abdomen, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Lily of the valley
Lily of the valley ; Source: pixabay.com

Protecting your child

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Supervising your child is the best way to avoid anything dangerous, including poisonous or irritating plants. Teach children not to put unknown plants in their mouth and help them identify different plants as they age. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on them until they understand that they should not eat random plants – usually at about the age of three years.

If possible, it’s best to avoid growing poisonous plants or keeping them around your house altogether. If you do want to keep dangerous plants in and around the home, be sure to fence off areas where the plants are kept and move houseplants up and out of the reach of children.

Additional precautions

Despite our best efforts, it’s not always possible to get the areas our child plays in completely danger free. When visiting guests or other houses be sure to notify other caretakers and make them aware of the common risks and dangers of any common plants both in and around their home.

Be familiar with the identity of, and treatment for, all the most common poisonous and irritable plants ensure you also have a basic first aid kit that includes any needed poison control remedies like syrup of ipecac and activated charcoal. Keep kits both in your home and in the trunk of your family vehicle.

While we can’t make the world a less dangerous place, we can do our best to inform ourselves and prepare for the worst case scenario – ll while we do our best to protect our children to the best of our abilities.