‘Life-threatening hazards!’: ‘Deadly poisonous’ plants that could be lurking in the garden

The Most Dangerous Plants & Animals in the UK

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Summer comes with a host of seasonal crops and flowers that are ready to be planted outside. However, you might be doing yourself a bad favour, as some common house and garden plants also happen to be toxic. Gardening experts at Fantastic Gardeners explained: “They can carry not only health risks but also life-threatening hazards, especially if you are not careful with handling them properly.”

Here are some of the most common poisonous plant species you might have in your garden:

Water hemlock

Water hemlock has little white buds – altogether they resemble an umbrella. The plant can reach around a metre in height and belongs to the carrot family. 

The stalk of the plant is full of multiple small tubular hollows that are filled with highly toxic brownish liquid.

The experts said: “Water hemlock is one of the most toxic plants in nature. It’s not a decorative plant you will sow in your garden, but it’s a widespread weed. 

“It can easily be confused with a blooming carrot, as it looks and smells harmless enough. If you do spot it in your garden, pull it up using gloves.

“Even a small amount of its toxic ingredient can poison livestock or humans.” 

Cicutoxin is a palatable cause of convulsions and attacks the central nervous system directly. 

Severe poisoning on the plant can lead to seizures and, subsequently, death. Seek immediate medical assistance if ingested.

Hydrangea hortensis

Hydrangea hortensis is a medium-sized bush with gorgeous blossoms. It’s a perennial decorative plant which blooms every year from spring until autumn with large, ball-shaped flowers that reach 30cm in diameter. 

Hydrangea’s petals are long-lasting and, most often, come in pink, whereas some sorts are white, red and blue-coloured. 

Depending on the pH contents of the soil, the colour of the hortensis changes from blue (low pH), through pale (neutral pH), to purple (high pH).

The gardening experts warned: “Unfortunately, all parts of the plant contain cyanide, one of the deadliest poisons known to man.”

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On the positive side, they contain low amounts of it. Hydrangeas are moderately toxic for pets if ingested, same with children. Grown-up humans can show more resilience.

Nevertheless, should poisoning occur, it comes with vomiting, heavy breathing, lethargy, stomach ache and, in worst cases, coma.

Oleander 

Nerium oleanders are a species of evergreen perennial bushes and trees from the Apocynaceae family. 

There are three types that exist in nature – they grow in the Mediterranean, as well as in the subtropical regions of Asia.

Despite its toxicity, the plant is highly valued as a decorative flower, with beautiful red, white, yellow and pink fragrant blossoms. 

Its chemical substances are widely used in medicine to heal heart disease. But it’s “deadly toxic”, according to the pros.

They said: “Symptoms include drowsiness, vomiting, slowed heart rate, arrhythmias, seizures and tremors.

“In one recorded case a child suffered effects from a single leaf, whereas the same amount is enough to kill a dog.

“What’s more, if you burn oleander, the smoke will be toxic for you, so refrain yourself from doing so.”

Foxglove 

Foxglove, also known as digitalis, is a cold- and dry-resistant plant. It is a popular decorative plant due to its beautiful blossoms. 

The experts said: “Unfortunately, the wild and the cultivated flowers are both deadly poisonous if ingested directly. 

“Watch out for your children when they play outdoors – a handful of its trumpet-like blossoms are enough to poison them, let alone your pets.”

Clinical symptoms include increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, seizures. Antidotes may be needed in potential life-threatening cases, to deal with the toxin.

Lily of the valley 

This garden plant blooms in early spring with beautiful little white bell-shaped petals, however, this plant’s “toxic effects” are as strong as its medicinal ones, experts warned.

They said: “The lily of the valley can easily induce fatigue, diarrhoea and vomiting. Extreme poisoning after ingestion of the plant leads to irregular heartbeat and mental confusion. 

“Always wash your hands well after touching the plant – better yet, use gloves. Even a small dosage is enough to lead to a fatal end in pets and children.”

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