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Related Articles: Tips for Healthier Houseplants | Clean House Plants = Healthy Environments

House Plants that Can be Dangerous to Pets and Small Children
by Joey Pebble

Your cat loves to do battle with the towering monster tree (which is really only a couple of feet tall) in your living room. It is fun to watch, and the tree seems to be sturdy enough to take on a de-clawed feline. So what's the harm?

In reality, a number of house plants are potentially dangerous or deadly to pets or small children. Do any of your flowering home decorations pose a threat to someone you love?

Many people enjoy the beautiful diffenbachia plant, which is sometimes referred to as the angel wings, heart of Jesus, or mother-in-law plant. It may have received its unflattering family connection because of the stinging, burning sensation caused when any part of the plant is eaten or placed in the mouth. Often, the mouth and gums swell up.

Although the diffenbachia plant can be fatal if a very large amount is eaten, chances are fairly low that an animal or small child would continue eating despite the pain. In fact, only one death has actually been reported as a result of pigging out on this agonizing delicacy. The swelling that sometimes results, however, can numb your vocal cords, making it impossible to talk until the swelling has subsided!

Calla lilies are a popular Easter and springtime flower, but they don't mix well with pets. Although the flowers aren't harmful, the leaves can cause painful, although not medically serious, symptoms. If infants or young children touch the leaves, they may experience temporary skin irritation.

Putting calla lily leaves in one's mouth, however, can result in an intense and painful burning sensation. These bulbs can also cause irritation and burning if placed in the mouth. The leaves and bulbs are painful for dogs, cats, and other house pets as well.

Perhaps the most poisonous house plant is the oleander tree or oleander bush. Although the colors are beautifully vivid, this plant can be extremely dangerous. If small children or pets are in your home, avoid purchasing this shrub. Even a small amount, such as a single leaf, can be deadly to a small child or pet. Further, be aware that all parts of this plant are poisonous.

One other holiday plant which people enjoy decorating their homes with is the poinsettia, also known as the winter rose. On occasion, children and animals may experience vomiting or diarrhea after eating leaves from this plant.

People who are sensitive to latex (rubber) should also avoid handling the poinsettia, as it may cause skin irritation. The notion that this plant is extremely poisonous, however, is a common, but entirely unfounded, misconception.

If you aren't sure whether a house plant is poisonous or harmful to your children or pets, contact a nursery or check with your county extension office before purchasing it. Don't take a chance and keep something around the house that may cause a toxic reaction or serious health problem for your pets or children. They are too young to defend themselves, so it's up to you to look out for them!

This article provided courtesy of the unique wall clocks produced and designed at and was written and submitted by stone artist Joey Pebble.

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Rachel Paxton
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