Plant Answers  >  Pecans Equal Good Health and Good Eating

Pecans Equal Good Health and Good Eating


Plants listed in the Purdue Veterinary Medicine site and listed as Extremely Toxic are: Castor bean (Causes Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal colic, thirst, convulsions. May be fatal.), Cocklebur, Pigweed, Johnsongrass, and Oleander.


The Moderately Toxic listing includes: Bulbs, Lupine (Bluebonnets!), Rhubarb, Azalea, Rhododendron, Oats, Larkspur, Milkweed, Mustard, Spurges, Nightshades, Black Walnut, and Red Oak.


The Minimally Toxic plants listed include: English Ivy, Catnip, Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima )-the Christmas Plant--All parts cause burning in the mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal irritation; Stinging Nettle, Marijuana, St. Johnswort, Pokeweed, and Bouncing Bet.

Plants listed as toxic to ALL animals are: Bulbs, Rhubarb, Azalea ( Causes vomiting, muscle weakness, breathing difficulty; heart depressant and may be fatal.), Rhododendron, Castor bean, Milkweed, Stinging Nettle, Cocklebur, Marijuana, Pokeweed, Bouncing Bet, Nightshades, Red Oak, Yew, and Oleander

So why would anyone recommend that you plant a poisonous plant in your landscape? The answer is simple; if we could only recommend non-poisonous plants, we would have nothing to recommend! New Gold lantana is a good example. The "New Gold" Lantana is a beautifully blooming, drought-tolerant, pest-resistant plant. However, the entire Lantana plant group is reported as poisonous. Lantana is reported to be especially poisonous to cattle and sheep though usually not browsed by them. Symptoms of lantana poisoning include sluggishness, partial paralysis and bloody diarrhea (sounds like a bad Friday night fling to me!). In addition to gastro-intestinal irritants, this plant contains a substance that will cause photosensitization. Photosensitivity is that condition in animals characterized by hyper-reaction to sunlight. Cattle, horses, sheep, goats and swine are susceptible to photosensitization.

It is not that I am skeptical but I have seen many pets living around most of the plants listed above and HAVE NEVER had one of the little darlings decide to commit suicide or diarrhea-cide by eating a landscape plant. Maybe I am just too naive and just don't know any better, so I am asking for your help. PLEASE, please, if you have ever had a pet killed, made sick or even caused to have that lovely bloody diarrhea-or if you have ever heard (not from the veterinarian's office!!) of ANY pet being poisoned by plants, please e-mail me the details at: Or telephone me on the Milberger's Garden Show on Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Sundays from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on KLUP Radio (AM 930) at: 210-308-8867 or Toll Free 1-866-308-8867.

The listing of cold-blooded, plant "killers" of children follows. The safest thing to do is to AVOID EATING HOUSEPLANTS AND LANDSCAPE PLANTS unless they are being served at the salad bar! However, some small children may not realize the risks. Children seek oral satisfaction. They put objects into their mouths and plants are no exception. HOWEVER, most plants which are "poisonous" are also SO DISTASTEFUL that the quantity which would have to be consumed is seldom tolerated by children before they run to the house for a better-tasting cookie.

Below are some of the plants which contain some potentially toxic substances. See if you can think of ANY landscape which does not have at least one of these plants growing in it. I guess we are going to have to put our children in a plastic bubble at birth and not let them out until they promise not to eat the shrubbery!!

Caladium; Elephant Ear (Caladium sp.) - All parts can cause irritation, swelling, and intense pain of the mouth, lips, cheeks, throat; may block breathing or swallowing.

Chinaberry (Melia azedarach) - All parts can cause breathing difficulty, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea, paralysis, weakened heart.

Daffodil (Narcissus sp.); Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis); Iris (Iris sp.); Jonquil - Eating the bulb can cause vomiting, diarrhea, trembling, convulsions, reduction in bloom and butt whipping.


Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia sp) All parts cause irritation, swelling, and intense pain in the mouth, lips, throat, cheeks; may block breathing or swallowing. Referred to as dumb-ass cane in reference to the dumb butts who eat it!

English Ivy (Hedera helix) All parts can cause diarrhea, excitement, labored breathing, coma.

Holly (llex sp.) Berries cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stupor.

Japanese/ Chinese Tallow (Sapium sebiferum ) Eating leaves; berries can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain.

Japanese/Chinese Yew (Podocarpus macrophylla) Eating berries can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain

Jasmine, Carolina or Yellow (Gelsemium sempervirens) can cause muscular weakness, double vision, sweating, convulsions, respiratory paralysis. Eating huge quantities of this vine may be fatal and, if being used as a privacy screen, expose some ugliness or nakedness on the other side of the fence which might cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stupor, excitement, labored breathing .

Lantana (Lantanas sp.) The eating of any part of this plant will cause muscle weakness, vomiting, dilated pupils, slow breathing, circulatory collapse, coma and may be fatal to the beauty of your landscape if you eat too much.


Ligustrum (Ligustrum sp.), Privet --When eaten, all parts can cause gastric irritation, pain, vomiting, diarrhea.

Oleander (Nerium oleander) All parts of this plant when eaten causes nausea, vomiting, depression, slowed and irregular pulse, dilated pupils, bloody diarrhea, paralysis. May be fatal and will definitely make you want to get the cook of the home enrolled in some serious cooking classes so you won't be so hungry that you are eating the shrubbery.

Peach (Prunus persica); Plum (Prunus americana); Apple (Pyrus sylvestris) seeds; Apricot (Prunus armeniaca); Cherry (Prunus cerasus) - All parts but fruit pulp and skin contains cyanide-producing substances which may cause difficulty in breathing. May be fatal.

Tallow, Japanese/ Chinese (Sapium sebiferum) Eating leaves and berries can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain.

Wisteria (Wisteria sp.) -- Eating seeds (pods) can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain

Yew, Japanese/Chinese (Podocarpus macrophylla) - Eating berries can cause nausea, vomiting diarrhea, abdominal pain.

Mescal Bean (Texas Mountain Laurel) (Sophora secundiflora) - If any part is eaten in quantity, it can cause excitement, high then low blood pressure, rapid heart rate, delirium

Oak (Quercus sp.) -- If young shoots are eaten then constipation, bloody stools, gradual kidney damage. Rather large amounts are needed for poisoning.

Yaupon (llex vomitoria) - If berries are eaten, vomiting, diarrhea, stupor, and/or dizziness can occur.

Here is what is recommended by the Poison Centers:


(1) Call the Texas State Poison Center or your family doctor.

(2) For children over one year and for adults --

If vomiting is indicated:
(a) Give one tablespoon (15 ml, one-half ounce) of Syrup of Ipecac (available at your local pharmacy).

(b) Immediately give 8 to 16 oz. (1 to 2 glasses) of any fluid except milk (water, Kool-aid, soda pop, fruit
juice, etc.).

(3) If you take your child to your doctor or emergency room - be sure to take a sample of the plant (the bigger the sample, the better).


Central Texas Poison Center

Scott & White Memorial Clinic & Hospital
2401 S. 31st Street
Temple TX 76508
Emergency Phone: 800-POISON1 (800-764-7661) (TX Only)
Administrative Phone: 817-724-7403
FAX: 813-724-7408

South Texas Poison Center

7703 Floyd Curl Drive
San Antonio, TX 78284-7834
Emergency Phone: 800-POISON1 (800-764-7661) (TX Only)
Administrative Phone: 210-567-5762
FAX: 210-567-8718

Texas Poison Control Network at Amarillo

PO Box 1110, 1501 S. Coulter
Amarillo, TX 79175
Emergency Phone: 800-POISON1 (800-764-7661) (TX Only)
Administrative Phone: 806-354-1630
FAX: 806-354-1667

West Texas Regional Poison Center

4815 Alameda Avenue
El Paso, TX 79905
Emergency Phone: 800-POISON1 (800-764-7661) (TX Only)
Administrative Phone: 915-521-7661
FAX: 915-521-7978

For a listing of U.S. Poison Centers, see:

But always remember, these folks are going to be making their recommendations on the plant information given above. You always need to ask, "How many children have been severely made ill by eating the plant which you are concerned about? Say, in the last 100 YEARS!!! The poinsettia is a good example to ask about cases of confirmed problems. How many people have been made sick by eating poinsettias in the last 100 YEARS!?!?! Probably, NOT A DAMN ONE!! I used to eat some on television every year around the holidays to assure everyone (especially young mothers) that they are safe to have around children and pets. See:



Thus follows a history lesson about poisonous plants. A plant from the New World arrived in Europe and immediately became associated with poisonous members of the Solanceae family, specifically henbane, mandrake and deadly nightshade, to which it bore more than a passing resemblance. Deadly nightshade is a poisonous plant which has been used as both a hallucinogenic drug and a beauty aid in different parts of Europe. The Latin name "belladonna" means beautiful woman, in the medieval courts of Europe ladies would apply a few drops of nightshade extract to their eyes to dilate their pupils, a look considered most fashionable at the time. The hallucinogenic properties of the plant, comprised of visions and the sense of flying. This most led to the association of the nightshade family with witchcraft. German folklore claims that witches used plants like mandrake and nightshade to summon werewolves, a practice known as lycanthropy.

Despite it's association with Witches and the Black Arts, early efforts to peddle this plant were not highly successful. Even in one of America's towns most associated with Witchcraft - the hamlet of Salem, Massachusetts a painter hoping to make a little extra money selling the fruit had difficulty even convincing people to taste the red fruit.

On September 26th, 1830, Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson stood on the steps of the courthouse in Salem, Massachusetts with a basket of this potentially toxic fruit. Despite warnings that its poison would turn his blood to acid, he told several hundred cheering spectators that he planned to eat the entire basket - and survive. "The foolish Colonel will foam and froth at the mouth," his own doctor shouted, "and double over with appendicitis. All that oxalic acid - one dose and he is dead. He might even be exposing himself to brain fever. Should he by some unlikely chance survive his skin will stick to his stomach and cause cancer."

Johnson, wearing black, ate the entire basket and indeed survived. The common German name for this so-called poisonous fruit translates to "wolf peach", and because of this it was universally avoided. In the 18th century the species was named Lycopersicon esculentum, which literally means, "edible wolf peach". Today, we simply love to grow and eat TOMATOES!!!!!!!! And now, YOU KNOW THE REST OF THE Paul Harvey would say. GOOD DAY!!!!!!!!



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