Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Plant lovin' ignoramus with baby...

Hi botanical types. I like letting my son play with (= eat) plants and leaves sometimes while hiking. The thing is ... I don't know which plants are safe/toxic/deadly.

Ones I know are poisonous: Oleander, yew, rhododendron

Ones I *think* are safe (PLEASE let me know if I am wrong!): Willow (just a leaf), wild fennel (are there any bad types?), sycamore, cottonwood, oak, manzanita (tons of varieties -- anything that could cause problems?), grass (he's eaten quite a bit of this), maple trees

Ones I would like to know more about: Pepper trees, random ornamentals (do you know of a good pictoral guide on line?), any common poisonous plants I should be aware of.

Houseplants I believe are poisonous: philodendron, dumb cane, ficus (?). Anyone have a good source?

Thanks all!


Sparkling Squirrel said...

Watch the wild fennel ("Never Eat Wild Umbels") as two of the most poinsonous wild plants, poison hemlock and water hemlock are big umbels. There are occasional nasty consequences from people eating them thinking "oh, my fennel/dill/wild carrots/lovage" grew extra big this year, or kids using the hollow stems as pea shooters/whistles. Some other umbels are reasonably nasty as well. Keep him away from them until he's old enough to seriously discriminate among them.
Willow leaves should be fine.
Poke, doll's eyes (aka baneberry) and mistletoe all have poisonous berries, but I doubt you'd be encountering them much there.
Hmmm, this is exactly the kind of question I love and exactly the reason I should quit now and go work on my quiz for lab.

Sparkling Squirrel said...

I've been reading the 2008 poison control data and is seems mostly like the plant questions are just what is common and people are willing to put in their mouths http://www.aapcc.org/dnn/Portals/0/2008annualreport.pdf
Christmas cactus? Non-toxic, lots of calls.
Interesting, the calls about spaths (peace lilies) were up over philodendron. It has been gaining in popularity.
I'd avoid eating: houseplants as a general rule. There are no real edible houseplants and while very few are seriously poisonous, why get into that habit.
Seriously toxic ornamentals or ornamentals that look like edible things: foxglove, castor beans, pokeweed, oleander, datura and other variations of angel's trumpets and jimson weed, things with bean pods that aren't edible (sweet peas, locoweeds, lupine).

Sparkling Squirrel said...

Oh, avoid all unknown nightshades (don't eat any "wild tomatoes" or "wild tomatillos" unless you're sure that they aren't some other nightshade), rhododendrons and azaleas, hollies, and monkshood.
Most of these the poinsonous parts are not the leaves, or the leaves are not really edible, so they shouldn't be much of a problem.

Sparkling Squirrel said...

This list annoys me because they couldn't bother to capitalize the Latin names, but otherwise it looks pretty good:

Tucson Trekker said...

Thank you so much, SS. As of now I am mainly worried about poisonous leaves because that is what he is attracted to. Perhaps because not many berries are out. I'm sure he'll discover berries soon. Just for the record... I tried oak, willow, manzanita and cottonwood leaves. They are all yucky (manzanita is almost tolerable), but cottonwood is by far the worst. Bitter with a weird taste of hotdogs.