Guide to Poisonous Plants

Plants are required to sustain life and people consume many plants. Vegetables, fruits, and herbs are common components of daily diet. Plants are also common for decorative landscaping and an integral part of many interior designs. There are plants, trees, and shrubs that when consumed can cause illness and even be fatal. In addition there are plants that can cause allergic reactions by contact for some people.

Many of the ornamental plants or flowers that adorn our yards and homes contain deadly poisons. Because many poisonous plants are so common we often do not suspect the toxic qualities and harmful possibilities. Many plants appear harmless which can be deceitful. In addition there are many common plant that can cause illness and death for our pets.

Plants Poisonous to Animals:
Humane Society table of plants that are poisonous to animals.
ASPCA: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals list of plants poisonous to animals that includes plant pictures.
A list of indoor and outdoor plants that can be harmful to animals.

Plants Poisonous to Dogs:
Toxic plants list.
Plants poisonous to dogs by category.
Poisonous plants and poisonous food.
Canine poisonous plant list.
Plants and other toxic dangers for dogs.
Plants and chemicals poisonous to dogs.

Plants Poisonous to Cats:
The Cat Fancier’s Association poison plant list.
Guide to resources for plants toxic to cats.
Extensive list of toxic and safe plants for cats.
Emergency procedures for cats suspected of ingesting toxic plants.

Plants Poisonous to Fish:
List of plants poisonous and toxic to fish.
Poisonous plant list for fish.

Pictures of Plants
Plant picture catalog from Cornell University.
Extensive catalog of plant pictures

House Plants Poisonous to People
While some poisonous plants might not be classified as fatal, the symptoms resulting from consumption such as mouth and throat swelling can cause difficult breathing which could result in death. In addition, the harmful severity caused by poisonous plants is usually based on the effects on a healthy person and someone with any preexisting conditions could suffer more serious effects. In case of poisoning always seek immediate medical attention.

While this list is not by all inclusive, here are some common yet poisonous to human house plants:

African Mask plants contain oxalate crystals that can irritate the skin, mouth, tongue, and throat when eaten. This can result in swelling, trouble breathing, and stomach upset.

Anthurium, Hyacinth, Narcissus, and Daffodil Bulbs can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and death.

Asparagus Ferns Some people have skin allergies after contact with these plants.

The Aralias from the Polyscias family is a column houseplant that usually does not grow wider than its container or taller than 6 feet and can cause allergic skin reactions.

Cardboard Palms look prehistoric and plastic. A mature plant may be 4 foot tall and up to 6 foot wide and have a heavy trunk. Cardboard Palms are propagated by planted seeds. The plant and seeds are highly toxic and are fatal to people and pets. They rarely produce seeds but if they do be very vigilant about keeping the seeds away from children and pets as even one can be deadly.

Caladiums are often seen during holidays because of their bright red foliage. They do come in many colors. The sap from Caladiums may cause skin irritation and can be toxic especially to small children and pets.

California Ivy or English Ivy houseplants have juice or sap of that can irritate the skin, mouth, tongue, and throat, resulting in throat swelling, breathing difficulties, burning pain, and stomach discomfort.

The Century Plant or Blue Agave can cause skin irritation on contact and swelling of mouth and throat tissue, difficulty breathing, and stomach discomfort when consumed.

The Chinese Evergreen or Silver Queen is less common than it once was and is sometimes found in fish tanks. The sap of this plant is toxic to mammals (which includes people.)

Christmas Holly The leaves and berries of this plant may cause minor illnesses such as vomiting or gastro-intestinal problems.

Clivia or Kafer Lily All parts of Clivia are somewhat poisonous and may cause mild upset stomach if ingested and be harmful to pets especially cats. Sap from the plants leaves or roots may irritate sensitive skin.

The Cyclamen is a colorful beauty originally from Greece and the Mediterranean Islands. The bulbs can irritate the skin, and consumption can cause swelling of the mouth, tongue, and throat, resulting in breathing difficulties, burning pain, and stomach discomfort.

Daffodil Bulbs can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The Dieffenbachia plant also known as “dumb cane,” “numb cane,” or “elephant ear,” is a common house plant and seen in many retail showrooms and commercial offices. This is a sturdy plant that can grow to the ceiling with thick stalks and huge broad leaves. Consuming any part of this plant can cause intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue, and throat tissue. People have died as a result of suffocation when the base of the tongue or throat swelled and blocked air intake.

Easter Lillies can cause illness for people and be fatal to cats or other pets.

Fiscus, Braided Ficus Benjamina, or Weeping Fig can cause skin rash for certain allergic people.

Fishtail Palm, Burnese Palm, or Clustered Fishtail Palm juice or sap contains oxalate crystals. That can irritate the skin, mouth, tongue, and throat. Can cause swelling of tissue resulting in breathing difficulties, burning pain, and stomach discomfort.

The Oleander leaves and branches are very poisonous when eaten. This plant can have a direct negative effect on the heart, produce severe digestive problems, and be fatal.

Ornamental Pepper or Christmas Pepper does bear fruit but that should not be eaten. The juice or sap in these plants is toxic by consumption and to some people by contact with skin.

Oyster Plant (Rhoea) has toxic sap.

The Peace Lily is considered one of the most popular plants in the USA. Consumption can cause throat swelling, breathing trouble, burning pain, and stomach discomfort. In addition some people have allergic skin reactions upon contact.  

Pencil Cactus or Milk Bush has a toxic sap that can cause skin disorders. Do not rub your eyes if you have touched this plant.

Philodendron or Philodendron Hope is popular and easy to grow. However this one has toxic sap and leaves, and consumption can cause throat swelling, breathing trouble, burning pain, and stomach discomfort and allergic skin reactions upon contact.  

Pothos, Devils Ivy, or Golden Pothos There are four popular varieties of this houseplant; Pothos Gold, Pothos Marble Queen, Jade Pothos and green Neon Pothos. They all have calcium oxalic acids and oxalate crystals that can irritate the skin, mouth, tongue, and throat. This can cause throat swelling, breathing trouble, burning pain, and stomach discomfort. The sap of the Pothos may cause a skin rash or irritation. 

Poinsettias (Euphorbias) are common holiday decoration plants. The poinsettia plant can cause skin irritation for some people.

Rosary Pea and Castor Bean Seeds are lethal. Even eating one seed has resulted in death.

Sago Palms have stiff, plastic looking stems and leaves and derive from Japan. They are highly toxic and can cause illness and death.

Poison Ivy Information
All about poison ivy with pictures.
Facts, pictures, remedies, treatments and FAQ’s for poison ivy.
Fast facts and rash pictures.
Website dedicated to poison ivy.
Identifying poison ivy.

Australian Native Poisonous Plants
Australian Native Poisonous Plants by Dr Ross McKenzie
A-Z list of poisonous plants of S.E. Australia
Chart of Australian poisonous plants.

Poisonous Plants Quiz
Wilderness survival plant identification.
Test your poisonous plant IQ
Poison Plant Quiz
General Botany Quizzes

Poisonous Plant Pictures
Plant photo gallery from Nature Photo
Veterinary Medicine Library plant photos

More on Poisonous Plants
Chart of plants poisonous to people and some animals.
Plants poisonous to livestock and other animals
Poisonous mushroom information.

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