Everyone knows that there are plants you need to be careful of, especially around kids – the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) listing more than 60 kinds which are commonly grown in our gardens that are poisonous.
So, how well do you know which plants to avoid in the kids’ garden – and why?
Take our quick quiz and find out.
1. Daffodils are a Great Favourite with Children
…but how safe are they?
(a) Fine, provided you don’t actually eat the bulbs.
(b) Only the inner parts of the flower are poisonous.
(c) All parts of the plant are poisonous.
2. Laburnum is a Well-Known Potential Danger
…but what’s the most poisonous part of this attractive tree?
(a) The young leaves
(b) The seeds
(c) The flowers
3. Yew is Another Plant to Avoid
Most parts of it are poisonous and the seeds are particularly dangerous – but can you recognise it?
(a) A small, annual weed with blue flowers and seeds like dandelion parachutes.
(b) An evergreen shrub or tree with small, needle-shaped leaves and bright red seed pods.
(c) A deciduous, broad-leafed tree, with large yellow flowers and big purple fruits.
4. Giant Hogweed is a Very Unpleasant Plant
…and is legally classified as a “notifiable weed.” Why is it so dangerous?
(a) It has a highly poisonous sap that causes skin to blister when exposed to sunlight.
(b) Contact with its pollen causes paralysis.
(c) It has fruits that look like oranges which are highly poisonous when eaten.
5. Which of the Following Plants are Poisonous?
(a) Lupins, Foxgloves, Autumn Crocus and Bluebells
(b) Lily-of-the-Valley, Oleander, Monkshood and Mandrake
(c) All of the above.
6. What are the Three Most Common Symptom
…when a child has eaten a poisonous plant?
(a) Stomach pains, vomiting or diarrhoea
(b) Irregular heartbeat, convulsions and unconsciousness
(c) Delirium, fever and hallucinations
7. The HTA run a labelling scheme which covers 115 different types of plant
…which are known to be potential dangers – but just who are the HTA?
(a) Horticultural Teachers Authority
(b) Horticultural Trade Association
(c) Horticultural Trauma Agency
8. No prizes for knowing that “Deadly Nightshade” is one to avoid
…but which of the following statements is true about this plant?
(a) It’s a close relative of potatoes and tomatoes.
(b) It was once used as a cosmetic to make eyes seem more attractive.
(c) In ancient Rome, Livia is rumoured to have used it to kill her husband Augustus Caesar.
1. Surprisingly, the answer is (c) – all of a daffodil is poisonous.
2. Answer (b) – the seeds of Laburnum.
3. (b) – Yew is an evergreen, with small, needle-shaped leaves and bright red seed pods.
4. The answer is (a). Exposed skin turns red and itchy, and in about two days, blisters form, which can leave scars that last for years, while sap in the eyes can cause temporary – and sometimes permanent – blindness. Definitely one to avoid!
5. It’s (c) – all of them. All of these plants feature on the RHS list.
6. Although all of these symptoms can occur, depending on the plant eaten, the most common signs of poisoning are stomach pains, vomiting or diarrhoea – so it’s answer (a).
7. It’s (b) – the Horticultural Trade Association; garden centres that are members of the HTA display labels clearly warning of the dangers of common irritant, poisonous or potentially allergy-provoking plants.
8. Actually, they’re all true. The nightshade family contains a number of well known plants, including chilli peppers, petunias, mandrakes – and potatoes and tomatoes. Its scientific name Atropa belladonna comes from the Italian bella donna – “beautiful lady” – which is said to refer to its use to dilate the pupils to make eyes more appealing. Livia was, by all accounts, a prolific and proficient poisoner who would have been well aware of the effects of this plant. In one version of the story, she is supposed to have poisoned some of the food on her own plate, which she then offered to her husband – presumably to avoid his official “taster.”
So how did you do? Can you spot a poisonous plant a mile off, or do you need to do a bit more research?
Whether you’re an expert or a bit of a beginner, one thing’s for sure – you can never be too aware of the dangers that lurk in your garden. Always remember that old proverb – forewarned is definitely forearmed!