Right outside my office window is a beautiful flower garden filled with roses and calla lilies. Like most of us, I enjoy both the looks and scent. I also know that only half of them are safe should someone decide to consume them.
Most popular flowers are quite safe, and are even used as garnish for special dishes. However, there are some that can spell trouble if they are consumed.
Castor Beans: This isn’t a very popular plant in our area. In fact, most landowners consider it a noxious weed. However, it does have nice foliage, and is occasionally planted for that purpose.
If you remember ricin from the various attacks after 9/11, you’ll understand how deadly this plant is. Ricin is the waste product from making castor oil, and the results of eating this plant are just as deadly.
Foxglove: This is a beautiful biennial. The slightly dusty green leaves are grown in the first year. In the second, a flower stalk comes up with bell like flowers all along it. The problem in this plant is digitoxin. It is the basis for the heart drug digitalis, and it has a strong effect on the heart. It doesn’t take a lot to cause some serious problems.
Lilies: Ask any vet and you will be told that any member of this family can kill your cat. It may also kill a human, though that is less likely. For humans, it can cause heart trouble.
Lobelia: Some herbalists use this plant to treat asthma. I don’t. One reason for this is that I have actually taken the herb and I know how it affected me. I spent four very uncomfortable hours trying not to throw up, because I was pretty sure I wouldn’t stop in a hurry. It is one of the most powerful purgatives around and it can also shut down the central nervous system. It makes a great ground cover, but it isn’t good to ingest.
Monkshood: This is another plant that is not necessarily popular. Perhaps that’s just as well considering what it can do. Half a leaf can kill a child or a small adult. A whole leaf can kill larger adults.
Oleander: I see bushes planted around playground fences and wince. Yes, it’s pretty, low maintenance and drought resistant. It’s also deadly. Like monkshood, it only takes a leaf or two.
Periwinkle: This plant may also be called vinca. For pharmaceutical companies, it’s great. Some properties of the plant can be used in the treatment of cancer. That’s great, but it has to be refined and used by professionals. If it’s just eaten, it’ll kill you.
If you have kids and/or pets, I strongly recommend you find out what is already growing in your yard. Then, when you are ready to plant anything, be it flower, food or hedge, make sure you know of any dangers that could be posed.