There is nothing more attractive and cheerful than a room filled with healthy green houseplants. They offer aesthetics to interior of our homes, improve indoor air quality, and often provide emotional satisfaction to caregiver in getting plant to bloom or produce new growth. However, did you know that plant exposures are some of most frequent poisonings reported to poison control centers?
There are more than 700 species of poisonous plants in United States and many of these can be found around home. According to American Association of Poison Control, poisonous plants are among three most common causes of accidental poisoning in children under 5 years old.
Some or all parts of a plant can be poisonous including roots, stems, berries or even nectar and pollen. There are several chemical compounds capable of poisoning that can be found in a variety of plants. Chemicals concentrated in cells of roots, leaves, bark and seeds serve as plant’s defense against insects and animal attacks. Some of these compounds can be toxic, especially if ingested or touched by humans.
The word “poisonous” generates many kinds of reactions and majority of them are non life-threatening. Among key effects of poisonous plants are allergic reactions (caused by spores, pollen, or naturally occurring volatile compounds emitted into air by plants), skin rash or dermatitis (caused by direct or indirect contact with allergenic or irritant compounds), and internal poisonings or irritations (caused from ingesting plants or plant parts).
There are many houseplants which are perfectly safe to grow and others which appear harmless but are toxic and dangerous. It is important to be as knowledgeable as possible about plants you have growing in your home. According to Washington Poison Center, following houseplants (listed by common name) are considered safe and non-toxic, but still should not be ingested:
•African Violet •Aluminum plant •Birds Nest Fern •Boston Fern •Cast Iron plant •China Doll •Christmas Cactus •Coleus •Corn plant •Dracaena •Gardenia •Goldfish plant •Jade plant •Mosaic plant •Orchids •Peperomia •Piggyback plant •Pink Polka-dot plant •Ponytail plant •Prayer plant •Purple Velvet plant •Spider plant •Swedish Ivy •Sword Fern •Yucca plant •Zebra plant
The Washington Poison Center reports following houseplants (by common name) to have some level of toxicity and therefore are considered to be toxic and/or poisonous. Also listed are parts of plant that can be toxic and what effects it has on humans if ingested.
Caladium: a showy plant with variegated, heart-shaped leaves. The whole plant is injurious and causes irritation to lips, mouth, and throat if ingested. This plant can also be dangerous for animals if ingested.
Calla Lily: a flowering plant with smooth-edged arrow-shaped leaves which grow on long stalks. The leaves are toxic and cause intense burning of lips and mouth if ingested. Contact dermatitis is also common.