more than 700 species of poisonous plants growing in North America.
Plants, indoors and out, can offer many benefits to body and soul. They add beauty and fragrance to our lives, they provide food, shelter, and privacy, and they have medicinal benefits. However, plants can also pose a risk when inappropriately used or accidentally eaten or touched. A plant poisoning can be an allergic reaction caused by spores or pollen, skin rashes caused by touching plants, and internal poisonings caused by eating of plants.
Some poisonous plants have become such an integral part of our lives that many of us have lost track of the fact they are potentially harmful.
A number of factors can play a role in the toxicity of plants: the part of plant; the time of year; the body weight of the person involved; the type of interaction (contact or ingested); and in some cases, the personís metabolism and susceptibility. Generally, the smaller a person is the less of the toxin is needed to cause ill effects, making children more vulnerable. Also individualís allergies play a role, i.e., some people may be seriously allergic to certain plants, such as peanuts or strawberries, while others can consume large quantities without harm.
Different species and even different individuals within a species can react quite differently. Just because a wild animal or bird ate something without becoming sick, that doesnít mean that it is not poisonous. Humans might be affected by certain plants, yet dogs or cats may be immune, for example cats and dogs can run through poison ivy without coming to harm, but people may suffer blistering and itching if they come in contact with the plant's sap (even petting their pets after they run through it).
Poisonous mushrooms are very difficult to identify. Even the experts make mistakes. Never eat mushrooms found in or on the ground. Only eat the type found in the grocery store.
To avoid poisonings from plants:
Learn to recognize
poisonous plants in your area.
Identify all plants in
the home. Have this information on hand for use in an emergency.
Lock away or dispose of
seeds, berries, bulbs and other plant materials that are known to be toxic.
Remove known toxic
plants from the house or place them out of the reach of children.
Donít eat any part of
an unknown plant.
Donít let pets graze
on poisonous plants.