Monday, June 24, 2013

Poisonous Plants

We spend many hours of our days outside in all weather, and part of this includes a healthy and respectful interactions with all parts of our outdoor environment.  We begin this in infancy, drawing attention to the details of the plants and insects we discover, as well as approaching both with a gentle touch
As different things are experienced, we name them which means it is important for us as the adults in the environment to know the names and properties of the plants, especially the poisonous ones.  It's easy enough to know the ornamental plants that we have in the yard, but there are few native plants that are important for everyone to know.  These plants are often very invasive and hard to remove, so they are important to be able to recognize.
Poison Hemlock
Highly poisonous plant.  Has been known to kill children very soon after ingestion.
Grows  to 5 to 8ft tall, with large white flowers, long fern-like leaves and easily identified by the purple spots on the stems
Symtoms occur within 20 minutes to 3 hours of exposure and ingestion.  They are dilation of the pupils, dizziness, and trembling followed by slowing of the heartbeat, paralysis of the central nervous system, muscle paralysis, and death due to respiratory failure

Bittersweet Nightshade
High invasive vine that is highly toxic to humans and animals.
Arrow shaped dark green leaves, vine, purple star shaped flowers with a prominent yellow stamen, green or red berries often present.
Symptoms are  thirst, blurred vision, headaches, nausea, fever, high blood pressure, hallucinations, and sometimes, convulsions, coma, and death.  Children are often attracted to the bright red berries.

Tansy Ragweed
Common in open spaces and often confused with common tansy, which has button like flowers and is non toxic.
2 to 4ft tall, fern like leaves and yellow flowers.
Symptoms include swelling membranes, trouble breathing, diarrhea 

Other native and often planted in yards are: Foxglove, Lupine, Rhododendron, Yew, and Bleeding Hearts.  Click a link here for a document that gives you more information about native plants that are poisonous to livestock and humans.  
By educating ourselves on what is safe for our children, we can teach them to respect and enjoy the outdoors in a safe way. 

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