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Common Poisonous Plants

This holiday season as you shop for traditional, seasonal plants, be aware there are some that can be harmful to pets! When decorating the house and preparing for your Christmas party, make sure that pretty little bunch of mistletoe is securely fastened over the door so that it can't be dislodged and fall into the reach of your playful puppy, curious cat -- or inquisitive toddler!

By the time the mistletoe reaches your home, it's usually kind of dried out or withered; the little berries and leaves may fall off rather easily becoming an innocent-appearing and amusing toy for your kitten. If, however, your kitten or puppy actually decides to chew on this parasitic plant, it could make him or her quite ill. They would have to ingest a whole lot (which is unlikely) to do major harm but even in small quantities it can still be quite upsetting. Symptoms of acute mistletoe poisoning includes unusual thirst and urination, seizures, a drop in heart rate and blood pressure, and may even be fatal.

POINSETTIA - MOST BEAUTIFUL CHRISTMAS FLOWER

I love to see the stores fill with the beautiful varieties of poinsettias - a sure harbinger that Christmas is coming soon! As hybridization techniques have improved, we now have a plethora of unique and exquisite colors of poinsettia to choose from. Hybrids come in white, variegated, pink, polka-dot, traditional reds and others. It's so hard to make up my mind so I usually pick a few of each and either group like-colors together or mix different varieties, depending on the room where they are displayed.

What most people think are the petals, are actually the top leaves or "bracts" that surround the tiny yellow flowers. In the original plant form, the bracts were almost always red. However, now that botanists have created the hybrids, they may be variegated in shades of red and even mixed with red and green. Some florists even decorate the plants themselves by spraying with glitter that enhances the festive appearance.

The poinsettia has long suffered the reputation of being highly toxic, a reputation that is disputed. According to my sources (Wikipedia), ingesting poinsettia leaves or flowers can cause stomach upset including vomiting and diarrhea in humans and animals, their actual toxicity or degree of toxicity is debatable. Wikipedia also advises that the plant can cause symptoms in people who are allergic to latex.

Whether it is highly toxic or not, do exercise caution in keeping poinsettias out of reach of children or animals who might think the most beautiful plant of the season is equally delicious to eat!

MORE ON POISONOUS PLANTS

A short list of common plants that are poisonous or toxic include:

  • Foxglove
  • Delphinium
  • Lilies
  • Privet
  • Orchids
  • Monkshood
  • Lily-of-the-Valley bush
  • More Coming

We are always updating our website and will add more about poisonous plants with descriptions as we have time. Please check back and, remember, you can always email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with questions.