Poison Prevention: Plants

Children often find plants appealing and may eat the leaves. Even plants that are non-toxic may cause a reaction in some people. Ask the NYC Poison Control Center or a local florist about the safety of plants in the home.

To prevent plant poisonings:

  • Keep plants at home up high and out of reach.
  • Learn which plants are toxic to children and pets. Label all home plants by name.
  • Choose non-poisonous plants for your home.
  • Do not eat wild mushrooms, berries or plants from the outdoors.
  • Do not chew on jewelry made from beans or seeds.

If you think someone may have been exposed to poison from a plant, call the NYC Poison Control Center at 212-POISONS (212-764-7667). To be sure you can reach us quickly, save the phone number in all cell phones and keep it posted at home.

Common Poisonous Plants

  • Capsicum Annuum (Chili Pepper). An ornamental plant that is often used as a spice or an ingredient in personal protection sprays. The pepper and seeds can cause irritation of the lips and mouth if ingested. If juice from this plant’s fruit gets in your eyes, it can cause acute inflammation, pain and tears.
  • Holly. The plant’s bright red berries are toxic and often attractive to children. Ingestion can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Call the Poison Control Center for information on how to monitor for dehydration and treat appropriately.
  • Mistletoe. The berries are toxic. Do not drink home remedy teas made with mistletoe berries.
  • Philodendron/Dieffenbachia. These are popular ornamental houseplants. They are often in hotel lobbies, restaurants and shopping malls. The plant contains needle-like crystals within leaves that, when bitten into, can cause irritation, burning and inflammation of the mouth.
  • Poinsettia. Ingestion of a very large amount of the plant may be toxic, but exposure is usually not dangerous. The most common reactions are skin irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Poison Ivy. All parts of this plant can cause an irritating rash on the skin.
  • Pokeweed. This highly poisonous plant grows in open fields and along roadsides around New York. Its purple-black berries are visually appealing and the raw berries are extremely toxic.

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