Are You Growing Poison In Your Garden?

autumn-crocusesFamiliar garden plants harbor poisons in their hearts.

Sounds dire, doesn’t it? Yet it’s true. Many well-loved and familiar flowers grown for their beauty actually have high levels of toxins and should be handled with great respect.

Simple, sweet autumn crocuses (photo above) contain a poison similar to arsenic.

Oleanders of all colors are toxic.

Oleanders have a fragrance like fine perfume, but all varieties, and all parts of it are toxic. Heart-stoppingly toxic.

colorful sweet peas are poisonous

We love the colors and fragrance of sweet peas – not to be mistaken for edible peas you can grow for food. These lovely charmers contain a neurotoxin, so beware.

Daffodils are toxic too.

They are pretty and home-like, with their nodding heads of white and yellow, but the bulbs and leaves of all daffodils contain lycorine, an alkaloid poison.

So should I yank up all these flowers in my garden?

Not necessary. You can grow these, and other beautiful-but-deadly plants without losing sleep if you follow these common-sense guidelines:

  • Be suspicious. Never eat a seed, leaf or flower that you don’t know 100%.  Even edible seeds may have been treated with fungicide.
  • Store seeds and bulbs out of the reach of children.
  • Some plants, like the very poisonous yew berry, are juicy-looking and attractive. Teach your kids to recognize toxic plants growing around your neighborhood. Educate them never to eat strange plants.
  • If you suspect poisoning, get medical help  immediately – don’t wait.

Photo credits:

Autumn Crocus by epicnom via Flickr

White Oleanders by Cobalt123 via Flickr

Sweet peas by Pesotum74 via Flickr

White and Orange Daffodils by Martin LaBar via Flickr

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