17 Plants to Beware


Colorful plants, in the house and in the garden, are a welcome sight each spring. However, the greenery may also flash red when it comes to your pets.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Web site lists 17 common plants that are poisonous to your pets. Watch out for:

  • Amaryllis: All varieties of this common Easter plant contain toxins that can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia and tremors.
  • Autumn Crocus:Colchicum autumnale, if ingested by pets, can result in oral irritation, bloody vomit, diarrhea, shock, multi-organ damage and bone marrow suppression.
  • Azalea/Rhododendron: Varieties of Rhododenron spp. contain grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness and depression of the central nervous system. Severe azalea poisoning could lead to coma and death from cardiovascular collapse.
  • Castor Bean: Ricin, a toxic protein found in Ricinus communis, is the poison that can provoke severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Severe cases result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, coma and death.
  • Chrysanthemum: A popular member of the Compositae family, these blooms contain pyrethrins that, if ingested, produce gastrointestinal upset, drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. In some cases, depression and loss of coordination may develop if enough of any part of the plant is consumed.
  • Cyclamen: The species of Cylamen contains cyclamine, with the highest concentration of the toxin located in the roots of the plant. If consumed, Cylamen produces significant gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities have been reported.
  • English Ivy: Other names for this plant are branching ivy, glacier ivy, needlepoint ivy, sweetheart ivy and California ivy. Hedera helix contains triterpenoid saponins that, if ingested, can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation and diarrhea.
  • Kalanchoe: Compounds in this plant can produce gastrointestinal irritation and heart distress that can affect cardiac rhythm and rate.
  • Lilies: Any member of Lilium spp. are highly toxic to cats. The poisonous component has not been identified; however, it is clear that ingestion of even a small amount of this plant can result in severe kidney damage.
  • Marijuana: Ingestion of Cannabis sativa can result in depression of the central nervous system, loss of coordination, vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, increased heart rate, and even seizures and coma.
  • Oleander: Every part of Nerium oleander is considered toxic to pets, as the plant contains cardiac glycosides that can cause serious effects, such as gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart function, hypothermia and even death.
  • Peace Lily (Mauna Loa Peace Lily): Containing calcium oxalate crystals, Spathiphyllum ingestion can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue.
  • Pothos: This plant, both Scindapsus and Epipremnum, belongs to the Araceae family. Chewing or ingesting of this popular household plant can cause significant irritation and swelling of the oral tissues and other parts of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Sago Palm: While all parts of Cycas revolute are poisonous, it is the seeds or nuts that contain the greatest amount of toxin. Ingesting just one or two seeds can result in extreme effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.
  • Schefflera:Schefflera and Brassaia actinophylla contain calcium oxalate crystals that, if ingested, can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing and intense burning and irritation to the mouth, lips and tongue.
  • Tulip/Narcissus bulbs: The bulbs of Tulipa/Narcissus spp. contain toxins that cause intense gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.
  • Yew: Taxine, a toxic compound found in Taxus spp., causes central nervous problems such as trembling, loss of coordination and breathing difficulties. It can also produce gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure.

Check the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at www.ASPCA.org, or call 212-876-7700 for more information.

Two other sites contain lists of poisonous plants: The Humane Society of the United States, or Plant Answers.

– information from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Published on Jul 29, 2008

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