10 “Pretty Plants” You Didn’t Know Were Poisonous

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We all like to keep a few plants around the house to help “brighten things up”

We try to make our insides look a bit more like the outside in an effort to make our humble abode seem more cheerful and fresh inside.

But did you know that many of the plants we keep inside and around our homes are actually poisonous or otherwise harmful to us or our faithful companions?

After reading this article that a community member sent me, I was a bit shocked to find out how many of these “pretty plants” were around my neighborhood and even in the office!

We've all heard the warnings about poison ivy: “Leaves of three, let it be.”

But even more sinister plants might be lurking in your garden, hiding behind fragrant flowers and beautiful blooms. Some dangerous flora are common in home landscaping and can easily be mistaken for something delicious or benign, especially by children or pets. Here are 10 to watch out for…

1.  Castor Bean

10 Pretty Plants You Didn't Know Were Poisonous

Though grown for its striking, large-lobed leaves and attractive flowers, the seeds of the castor bean plant contain one of the deadliest poisons around—ricin. It is best to remove it from your yard if you have children, pets, or keep livestock.

2.  Monkshood


Commonly mistaken for horseradish, this perennial’s bulbs can kill a grown adult. Even touching its leaves with bare hands may result in numbness, so wear gloves when dealing with this indigo beauty.

3.  Foxglove

10 Pretty Plants You Didn't Know Were Poisonous

A member of the snapdragon family, this stunning ornamental sports lovely bell flowers that bloom in many vibrant colors. However, ingesting the flowers, seeds, stems, or leaves of this attractive plant can be poisonous, causing symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea, to wild hallucinations, delirium and even death. Over time, this plant has picked up a host of sinister nicknames like “Dead Man's Bells” and “Witch's Gloves.”

4.  Oleander

10 Pretty Plants You Didn't Know Were Poisonous

While its showy flowers are a natural draw for those looking to add a drought-tolerant, deer-resistant plant to their garden, oleanders are one of the more deadly shrubs commonly grown in the US. All parts of the plant can be lethal if ingested in excess. Just touching its sap can irritate and inflame your eyes.

5.  Pyracantha

10 Pretty Plants You Didn't Know Were Poisonous

The thorns of this common evergreen shrub can bring on an itchy rash or burning sensation on those with sensitive skin. A simple prick can release a potent allergen, earning this plant the nickname “Firethorn.” If you're particularly allergic, a close encounter can cause joint pain that lasts for several days.

6.  Jerusalem Cherry


With fruit that looks remarkably similar to a cherry tomato, this plant can tempt you to pop a Jerusalem Cherry—or winter cherry— into your mouth. But doing so could lead to serious gastric problems and even more dire consequences for pets and young children. Better to dig up and discard these plants than risk it!

7.  Calla Lily

10 Pretty Plants You Didn't Know Were Poisonous

Even just a bite or two of the elegant calla lily can cause liver failure in pets, and the mouths and tongues of humans to swell. The protein asparagine, found particularly concentrated in the roots of this plant, is poisonous, so be extra prudent with this popular cut flower.

8.  Pokeweed

10 Pretty Plants You Didn't Know Were Poisonous

Don’t be fooled by a bird’s ability to snack on the appealing purple clusters of the pokewood’s fruit. Humans will get severe stomach pain and potential headaches if they try to do the same.

9.  Amaryllis hippeastrum

10 Pretty Plants You Didn't Know Were Poisonous

Carrying a toxic alkaloid called lycorine, the indoor amaryllis bulb will cause unpleasantness to any household pet that tries to snack on it—from diarrhea to vomiting. Most animals need to eat a large amount to truly be affected, so don’t let it stop you from enjoying the bright trumpet flowers.

10.  Poinsettia

10 Pretty Plants You Didn't Know Were Poisonous

Even though they have a reputation of killings pets, the milky white sap found in poinsettias is actually only mildly toxic to animals and small children. Ingesting it can cause a stomach ache, but not much worse. Still, best to keep them in a less accessible area to avoid any trouble.

View the original article on bobvila.com

Exactly how many of these plants did you know were poisonous, and how many more can you think of that might be hiding out in our gardens?

Learn more with these related articles from our site:


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Sep 23, 2013 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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7 Responses to :
10 “Pretty Plants” You Didn’t Know Were Poisonous

  1. Ron Wilkerson says:

    I have picked poke with my mom but we only ate the leaves. Its good cooked with bacon grease and scrambled eggs. Never touched the berrys cause she told me the were bad for ya.

    1. JJM says:

      We always referred to them as Ink Berries. With parents warning us of the danger I questioned “Poke Salad Annie”.
      Castor Beans were (still?) sold to control moles. Poke a few down in the mole runs.

    2. L. Keeth says:

      I was taught to only eat the leaves, aka poke salad, when they are young and tender.

  2. Leah H says:

    Thank you so much for this article! I have been trying to find out for the last six months what this particular plant on my property is, been to every garden center in a 25 mile radius. Thanks to you, I now know it’s #8!

    1. Carolyn says:

      You must not live in the south…everybody down here, even if they don’t eat it (even tho the leaves are delicious), knows what it is…It’s everywhere…grows wild.

  3. Great Grey says:

    Foxglove is the source of digitalis and that is what makes it dangerous.

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