The 10 Most Toxic Garden Plants


We tend to think of our gardens as safe havens.  A risk free environment to be enjoyed by our family and pets. However, ingesting these common garden plants could have harmful or even fatal consequences.

10. Lily of the Valley

Photo By MTSOfan

Convallaria majalis is best known for its potent, sweet scent and the small stature of its white bell-shaped flowers. The entire plant is toxic, especially the leaves. Even a small amount causes headaches, diarrhea, hallucinations, irritability, and hives, among other symptoms. The toxins will cause the heart to slow down, risking coma and death.

9. Rhododendron

Photo by Harald Henkel

Rhododendron ponticum is a large flowering shrub with flashy pink, white, red, or purple globes of flower clusters and thick, glossy leaves, and the whole thing is deadly. Ingestion of any part of the plant results in becoming violently ill, beginning with becoming teary-eyed and drooling from the mouth, then vomiting. Without aid, they will fall into a coma or begin to seize; death can occur shortly after.

8. Hydrangea

Photo By Liz West

Hydrangea macrophylla are large shrubs with globes of pink, blue, or white blooms. Every part of the plant is poisonous, particularly the flower buds. Dizziness, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, and convulsions are all symptoms of ingestion. Death can occur if enough is consumed relative to body weight, making children especially susceptible to fatal poisoning.

7. Poet’s Narcissus

Photo By N Houlihan

Narcissus poeticus are white bulb flowers with a yellow center cup. The entire plant, especially the bulb, is a potent emetic. Consumption will produce severe nausea, convulsions, fainting, paralysis, and death. Coming into contact with secretions from their bulbs with an open wound has been known to cause staggering, numbness, and heart paralysis.

6. Larkspur

Photo By T Trimm

Delphinium consolida offers vibrant blooms and colorful petals, ranging from white to indigo in color. The entire plant, however, is dangerously toxic. Immediately after consumption, symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and slowed heartbeat emerge. The poison can become lethal in as little as six hours.

5. Foxglove

Photo By Janet Ramsden

Digitalis purpurea is known for its towers of purple, pink, or white bell shaped flowers and being a potent toxin. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can set in as little as twenty minutes after consumption, and death can occur from lowered heart rate or ventricular fibrillation. There has even been reports of children dying just from sucking on parts of the plant.

4. Oleander

Photo By Jayesh Patil

Nerium oleander is a flowering shrub with fragrant white buds and dark green leaves. Once again, the entire plant is poisonous. The toxins first cause vomiting and diarrhea, then potentially fatal irregular or slow heartbeat and low blood pressure. Oleander poisoning ends with seizures, tremors, and coma that can lead to death.

3. Mountain Laurel

Photo By Jason Hollinger

Kalmia latifolia is a leggy shrub with round heads of flowers that range from white to magenta in color. The leaves, twigs, flowers, and pollen of this plant cause watering of the mouth, nose, and eyes, as well as shortness of breath and slow heartbeat. Without treatment, kidney failure can occur, as well as convulsions, paralysis, coma, and death.

2. Mistletoe

Photo By Conifer Conifer

Phoradendron flavescens is a parasitic plant found in host trees, traditionally used as a Christmas decoration. Use caution when decorating, though, as the entire plant is toxic, especially the berries. Ingestion of mistletoe causes inflammation of the stomach and small intestine, followed by cardiovascular collapse. The plant is particularly potent when it comes to pets.

1. Water Hemlock

Photo By Wayne Weber

Don’t let the delicate and unassuming white blossoms fool you, Cicuta maculata is considered the most toxic plant in North America. Ingestion of any part of the plant can lead to death in as little as 15 minutes. The poison causes severe seizures and convulsions that can be fatal, as they often come in combination with asphyxia and cardiovascular collapse.

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