Pretty but Dangerous Plants

Everybody wants a colorful, big, bright, beautiful blooms all over the yard. But be careful, some plants can also bring unintended consequences. They may look beautiful, but they could really harm or even kill you. It just goes to show you that while beauty is inviting, it doesn’t mean that it’s good for you. Maybe that gorgeous flower outside your kitchen might not seem so great when you hear about what it can do to you, your kids, or even to your pets. Some popular plants you prize for their ornamental beauty can turn into toxic killers within minutes if ingested, whether consumed out of curiosity or by mistake.

Here are some of the plants you might encounter:


  1. Rhododendron

RhododendronIts bold flowers that bloom from winter through summer are tempting. Rhododendrons and azalea bushes (a variety of rhododendron), with heir bell-shaped flowers, look great in the yard come springtime, but the leaves are toxic and so is honey made from the flower nectar. Eating either from these evergreen shrubs makes your mouth burn, and then you’ll probably experienced increased salvation, vomiting, diarrhea and a tingling sensation in the skin. Headaches, weak muscles and dim vision could follow. Your heart rate could slow down or beat strangely, and you might even drop into a coma and undergo fatal convulsions. Before that, doctors will try to replace your fluids and help you breathe more easily and administer drugs to bring back your normal heart rhythm.


  1. Hydrangea

HydrangeaWho doesn’t love the way hydrangeas look, with their dreamy clusters of lush flowers? This poofy-flowered bush (Hydrangea macrophylla) is a popular yard ornament that can grow up to 15 feet tall with rose, deep blue or greenish-white flowers that grow in huge clusters and look as edible as cotton candy or a big bun to an imaginative mind. But those blooms will give you a belly ache that sets in sometimes hours after eaten. Typically, patients also experience itchy skin, vomiting, weakness and sweating. Some reports indicate that patients can even experience coma, convulsions and a breakdown in the body’s blood circulation. Luckily, there is an antidote for hydrangea poisoning, and doctors might also give you drugs to address to ease your symptoms.


  1. Foxglove

FoxglovStalks of layered, brightly colored, bell-shaped flowers make gardeners want to run out and plant Foxglove in droves. But foxglove is also one of the more dangerous plants to have around if you have kids and pets. Foxglove is a magical looking plant that grows to 3 feet tall with drooping purple, pink or white flowers, sometimes dotted inside, along a central stalk. Its Latin name is Digitalis purpurea, which might sound familiar; leaves from the plant are a commercial source of the heart drug digitalis. If you eat any part of these plants in the wild, you too will likely have heart problems after a spell of nausea, vomiting, cramps, diarrhea and pain in the mouth. A doctor might administer charcoal to absorb the toxin or pump your stomach, and might also administer drug to bring your heart rate back to normal. Other names for this plant include fairy bells, rabbit flower, throatwort and witches’ thimbles.


  1. Larkspur

LarkspurPleasing to the eye and low maintenance? No wonder Larkspur is favorite of gardeners looking for clusters of color in a range of colors from white to purple/blue. The larkspurs are divided into three groups: the tall larkspurs, the low larkspurs, and the plains larkspurs, based on their height at maturity and geographic location.

Tall larkspurs have a spurred blue flower, similar to that of garden delphinium. Broad leaves are divided into deep lobes. In contrast, wild geranium, which is often mistaken for larkspur, has shallow leaf lobes. Tall larkspur is a perennial that is found on hillsides and in meadows. It ranges in height from 1 to 2 meters. A hollow stem distinguishes larkspur from poisonous monkshood, which has a similar blue flower but with a hood.

Low larkspur has spurred blue flowers that grow on the top third of a single and unbranched stem. It is found on grassy hillsides and in sagebrush areas, where it may reach a height of 2 feet. Leaves alternate and are divided into deep, narrow lobes. The stem is hollow.

Plants are most toxic during early growth, but toxicity gradually declines over the growing season. However, toxin levels may increase in the flowers and pods even late in the season. The toxic substances are mixtures of several alkaloids. These alkaloids and their relative toxicity and concentrations vary between individual plants, at different locations and between larkspur species. The method of toxicity has been identified as neuro-muscular paralysis, leading to respiratory failure, bloat and often death.


  1. Oleander

OleanderAs beautiful as it is fragrant, oleander is a popular choice for those looking for decorative shrubs. Every bit of the oleander plant is toxic, unlike the case for other plants where just the flower or sap might be poisonous. Even accidental inhalation of the smoke from burning oleander is a problem. Other trouble comes from using the sticks for weenie or marshmallow roasts or drinking water in which the clusters of red, pink or white flowers have been placed. These evergreen shrubs are common as tub plants or in gardens in the Southwest and California, any locale that approaches the plant’s native Mediterranean climate. Typically, the symptoms involve a change in heart rate, be it a slow down or palpitations or high potassium levels. A doctor might prescribe a drug to bring your heartbeat back under control and try to induce vomiting with ipecac, pump your stomach or absorb the toxin with ingested charcoal.


  1. Angel’s Trumpet

angels trumpetThe unique shape of the Angel’s trumpet is like a bell hanging from a vine which makes it a popular choice in gardens across the country. All parts of this plant are potentially poisonous, with the seeds and leaves being especially dangerous. It is rich in Scopolamine (hyoscine), hyoscyamine, and several other tropane alkaloids. Effects of ingestion can include paralysis of smooth muscles, confusion, tachycardia, dry mouth, diarrhea, migraine headaches, visual and auditory hallucinations, mydriasis, rapid onset cycloplegia, and death. Angel’s trumpets have occasionally been used to create a recreation drug, but the risk of overdose is so high that these uses often have deadly consequences.


  1. Lily of the Valley

lily of the valleyIt smells so sweet and it looks so delicate and yet lily of the valley is highly poisonous. These darling droopers, also known as mayflowers, are entirely poisonous, from the tips of their tiny bell-shaped white flowers that coyly fall off like parted hair to the very water in which they might be placed. A little bit of Lily of the Valley (Convallaria Majalis) probably won’t hurt much, but if you eat a lot, you’ll probably experience nausea, vomiting, pain in the mouth, abdominal pain, diarrhea and cramps. Your heart rate might also become slow or irregular. A doctor might decide to clean out your stomach by pumping it or feeding you absorbing charcoal, and might give you drugs to bring your heart rate back to normal.


  1. Bee-Friendly plants

Bees are important as pollinators, and many of the same plants that attract them also bring butterflies to your yard. Many kids are scared of bees and some are allergic to them, you might want to avoid catmint, calendula, lavender, and heliotrope.






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