When it comes to houseplants, sometimes the beautiful can be itchy—or deadly.
Danger in plain sight
Houseplants are a great way to spruce up your living environment. The best indoor plants look gorgeous, of course, but they can also give you a mental and physical boost, cleaning the air and reducing stress levels. But before you start exploring the health benefits of gardening and searching for the best low-maintenance plants, you need to be aware of one very important thing: Poisonous plants may be on your to-buy list—or already in your own home.
More than 700 plants arepoisonous to catsanddogs, and some plants are also toxic to humans. While you might not be nibbling on your houseplants, remember that this is a concern if you have small children who live with you or who visit. Also, some plants can cause itchiness if you touch them, so you’ll want to proceed with caution, regardless. Read on for the dangerous plants you might not suspect are as toxic as they actually are.
Grace Luxton/rd.com, Getty Images
Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis miller)
This succulent plant is a favorite to have around the house because it can help soothe human skin that’s been sunburned, frostbitten, or that is prone to psoriasis, according to Penn Medicine. That’s because it contains anti-inflammatory chemical compounds called anthraquinones. However, those same compounds act as purgatives that increase mucous and water in the colon, making them moderately toxic to dogs, cats, and horses, reports the ASPCA. If your pet ingests aloe, it could lead to vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea.
Elephant’s ear (Alocasia)
This plant is easy to care for indoors or out, but you’ll want to keep it far from kids and pets. It contains insoluble calcium oxalates, “needle-shaped crystals [that] can irritate the skin, mouth, tongue, and throat, resulting in throat swelling, breathing difficulties, burning pain, and stomach upset,” according to the University of California. And it doesn’t have to be ingested to cause a problem: It can also cause rashes if its juice gets on the skin. That means a trip to the vet—look out for drooling, pawing at the face, and vomiting—or a call to poison control. Whether elephant’s ear is in your backyard or not, here’s how to keep dogs and cats out of your garden.
Asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus)
Sure, this lacy-looking fern is a beauty to behold. But it’s also a mild toxin to your pets, who might not be able to resist giving it a chomp if its fronds are dangling within reach. It contains sapogenins, chemicals that protect plants against hostile invading organisms, and in your pet, they act as a mild toxin on the skin and may cause itching and rashes. Their berries, if ingested, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
Philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum)
Meet another easy-peasy houseplant with a nasty bite. Just like elephant ears, all varieties of philodendron contain insoluble calcium oxalates that penetrate your animals’ bodily tissues—namely, in the mouth, where chewing of the leaves happens—and cause irritation of the mouth and gastrointestinal tract. In very rare cases, it might lead to obstructed breathing. Hypersalivation, vomiting, and possible swelling of the pharynx are common symptoms; treatment includes milk or water to rinse out the mouth. FYI, here are more dog illness symptoms to watch out for.
Amaryllis (Amaryllis belladonna)
Every part of this gorgeous winter holiday flowering plant is toxic to humans and pets—mostly the bulb, but also the stems and leaves. It contains lycorine and other phenanthridine alkaloids, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested (by pets or humans), as well as blood pressure drops and respiratory depression in pets. Its juice can also cause some pretty serious rashes.
Sago palm (Cycas revoluta)
Things get a little more serious for pets when it comes to sago palms and plants related to them. They contain three toxins, including, most significantly, cycasin, which can lead to liver failure in dogs, as well as seizures and tremors. How can you tell if your pet has ingested this dangerous plant? Signs will include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, abnormal fluid accumulation in the abdomen, abdominal pain, and black, tar-like stool. The seeds have the highest concentration of cycasin, but you shouldn’t let your pup eat any part of a palm—and if he does, he’s likely looking at some extensive treatments at the vet’s office, and a 30 percent mortality rate. Needless to say, this is one plant you don’t want to mess with. If all of this has you worried, you may want to opt for these artificial plants that no one will be able to tell are fake.
It’s unlikely that you’re growing lilies as houseplants, but cat lovers beware: If you’ve brought in a bouquet filled with any members of this family—including Easter lilies, tiger lilies, or even day lilies of the Hemerocallis genus—it’s an acute danger to your fluffy feline friend. Scientists aren’t quite sure what makes lilies poisonous to cats. What they do know is that whatever it is, it can lead to renal failure, which, if not treated quickly, can lead to death. Even the nibble of one petal or a sip from the water the flowers sat in is enough to set things off. An initial period of vomiting and diarrhea may quickly subside, but the real trouble begins after 24 hours, which is why immediate care should be sought.
Another plant you’re unlikely to be growing at home but perhaps might be compelled to bring in at holiday time, this one is a serious danger not only to cats but also to dogs and humans. Mistletoe berries contain polysaccharides, alkaloids, and lectins, which can give your pets gastrointestinal distress when eaten in small quantities, and seizures or even death when consumed in larger amounts. It can also cause digestive issues in humans, as well as hallucinations and skin rashes if the berry juice gets on the skin. While we’re on the subject, poinsettias are also poisonous to pets.
Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
As Farmers’ Almanac rightly points out, “cats are wildly attracted to spider plants (all those wiggly legs!)” And although these plants are not considered to be much of a threat to felines, or anyone, they do contain chemical compounds that may or may not be related to opium and might give your cat pal an upset stomach. Keep those spider plants high enough off the ground that even your most acrobatic feline can’t reach them. That’s just one of the reasons they rank high on our list of the best indoor hanging plants.
Oleander (Nerium oleander)
While oleander isn’t usually grown indoors, lots of folks pot these delicate shrubs and bring them in from the garden to overwinter in cold climates. And while they may look gorgeous, they are deadly. As with other plants that contain cardiac glycosides—including foxglove and lily of the valley—these compounds get rapidly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and quickly begin to interfere with the heart’s electrolyte balance. For pets and humans alike, this can lead to abnormal heartbeat, life-threatening potassium spikes, seizures, and even sudden death. All parts of the plant are poisonous, even in very small amounts. The good news is that they’re pretty bitter, so that should discourage even the most taste-testy members of your household.
Flowers with bulbs
Daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips are flowers that grow from bulbs rather than seeds, and it’s these bulbs that can cause some pretty serious gastrointestinal distress if consumed in both pets and humans. We’re talking stomachaches, nausea, vomiting, and even hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. This is all thanks to lycorine, “an alkaloid with strong emetic properties (something that triggers vomiting),” according to the Pet Poison Helpline. Lycorine crystals are found in the outer layer of the bulbs, although eating the stems and leaves is also ill-advised. Additionally, Salon reports that eating bulbs can lead to blood pressure spikes, irregular heartbeat, tremors, and possibly death. Here are more shockingly common dog dangers in your own backyard.
Peace lily (Araceae)
Although it’s unrelated to true (and truly toxic) lilies, the peace lily has its own potent powers. With its insoluble calcium oxalates, it can cause unpleasant burning and swelling of the lips and tongue—in humans and pets—as well as nausea and diarrhea. It does not, however, cause kidney failure in cats, as has been reported. Another plant to stash way up high!
Rubber tree (Ficus elastica)
These common household trees contain a sap (ficin) that can irritate the mouth, throat, and skin. Were you to be so foolhardy as to ingest some of this sap yourself, you might also find yourself with impaired coordination. In your pets, look for signs of decreased appetite, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Thinking of buying an indoor fruit tree? Make sure to do your research before you do.
Geraniums are easy to care for and filled with lovely blossoms. But they also contain chemicals called geraniol and linalool, which will make your cats and dogs feel pretty gross: itchy on their skin if they get these compounds under their fur, nauseous, and, over time, anorexic.
Jade plant (Crassula argentea)
Another mystery of the toxic plant world is the jade. Here again, no one is quite scientifically sure why this beautiful succulent, considered by some to be good luck, will make your cat or dog vomit, or irritate their skin. On the plus side, it is, at least, considered a minor toxin. Next, find out where to buy plants online that are safe for everyone in your household.
- Penn Medicine: “Aloe Vera: Not Just for Sunburns”
- ASPCA: “Poisonous Plants”
- Pet Poison Helpline: “Poison List: What Did Your Pet Ingest?
- Farmers’ Almanac: “30 Common Houseplants From A-Z That Are Toxic To Pets”
- Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association: “Toxic Plants”
- Salon: “Not all greenery is good: 10 hazardous houseplants to watch out for”
What is the most poisonous plant in the UK? ›
Monkshood is one of the UK's most poisonous plants and if ingested can cause stomach pain, dizziness and heart problems.What plants are poisonous to humans in the UK? ›
The carrot family
hemlock (Conium maculatum) and water dropwort hemlock (Oenanthe crocata) are both deadly poisonous. For the beginner they can appear very similar to a number of other edible carrot family plants.
That soil can harbor dangerous little spores that can spray into the air. If you are allergic, these spores cause you to feel awful - irritable, brain foggy, tired, anxious, and can give you chronic sinus congestion and headaches.Which plant is not good for home? ›
Cotton plants and silky cotton plants are not a great idea to have at home. These snowy white plants look very pretty when used as a decorative element but they are not the perfect choice as per vastu. These plants are inauspicious and bring bad luck when placed indoors.What plant can paralyze you? ›
Gelsemium comes in three flowering varieties – two native to North America and one to China. All three can be deadly. The most toxic variety of gelsemium, Gelsemium elegans, only grows in Asia, and is also known as “heartbreak grass”.What is the deadliest flower? ›
The elegant Nerium oleander, the blossoms of which are crimson, magenta or creamy white, is one of the most toxic plants in the world. Every part of the plant, from its stem to its sap, is incredibly poisonous if ingested. Even inhaling the smoke from a burning oleander is a health threat.What 5 Leaf plant is poisonous? ›
Although the flowers of the Virginia creeper vine leave much to be desired to the human eye, they are an important resource for insects. Its fruit are an important food item for birds and small mammals, but they are toxic to humans.What is the most toxic plant poison? ›
The oleander, also known as laurel of flower or trinitaria, is a shrub plant (of Mediterranean origin and therefore, resistant to droughts) with intensely green leaves and whose leaves, flowers, stems, branches and seeds are all highly poisonous, hence it is also known as "the most poisonous plant in the world".Is daffodil poisonous? ›
All parts of the daffodil are toxic. When swallowed, it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Eating the bulb can cause severe irritation of the mouth and stomach upset. These symptoms are usually not life threatening and resolve within a few hours.Can you touch foxglove? ›
The truth of the matter is that foxgloves are indeed poisonous to touch. Although you may not experience an immediate reaction when you touch them, the toxins from touching them can still be transferred to other parts of your body such as the eyes and mouth. You could even transfer the toxins to an open wound.
What flower causes heart attacks? ›
Dianthus barbatus 'Heart Attack' - Plant Finder.Should I remove foxglove from my garden? ›
Removing spent foxglove flowers may encourage reblooming and further enjoyment of the plant late into the season. It is also a way to tidy up the garden and still enjoy the large leaves and statuesque growth form. Many types of plants benefit from deadheading, and foxglove is no exception.How many UK plants are poisonous? ›
The Royal Horticultural Society says there are more than 130 potentially poisonous garden plants in the UK.What happens if you touch lily of the valley? ›
The method of introduction to the toxins is gastronomic, although there are also contact dermatitis reports. The most common effects are stomach ache, blurred vision, slow and irregular pulse, and in severe cases, seizures, vomiting and diarrhea, heart arrhythmia and even death.Are hydrangeas toxic to humans? ›
Symptoms: All parts of the plant are poisonous. If eaten, symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Skin contact can cause dermatitis, rash or irritation.Are sunflowers toxic to humans? ›
Answer: Stick to the seeds when it comes to eating sunflowers. The flowers and leaf and stem hairs contain a mixed bag of chemicals called sesquiterpene lactones that commonly cause bad reactions in humans–both on the skin or if ingested.Why it is not good to put green plants in your bedroom? ›
It's fairly common to hear, "you shouldn't keep houseplants in the bedroom because they're not safe". This is based on the fact that most plants will release Carbon Dioxide and absorb Oxygen from the air while you're sleeping.Is it OK to sleep with plants in your bedroom? ›
Plants can absorb harmful gases through the pores in their leaves, filtering and cleaning the air you breathe every day. Not only do bedroom plants have many health benefits, but they also add a nice touch of decor and bright energy to any indoor space.Can you put lavender plant in bedroom? ›
Lavender has been proven to lower our heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels, which is why it's perfect for the bedroom.What are the symptoms of mold sickness? ›
Some people are sensitive to molds. For these people, exposure to molds can lead to symptoms such as stuffy nose, wheezing, and red or itchy eyes, or skin. Some people, such as those with allergies to molds or with asthma, may have more intense reactions.
Is the snake plant toxic? ›
They've even been used as herbal remedies in some parts of the world. But the plants are also poisonous if ingested. Large doses can cause nausea and vomiting, and the poison found in the plant has a numbing effect that can cause the tongue and throat to swell.
Mold in the home may also be toxic to humans, or at least irritate those with asthma or allergies. So you'll want to get rid of it right away for the sake of your plant and yourself.What plant brings Badluck? ›
Cotton plants are considered unlucky and bring bad luck when kept indoors. Cotton plants and silk cotton plants should be avoided at home. According to Vastu, these plants are considered unlucky and bad luck.What is the luckiest plant? ›
The best 12 plants for good luck and fortune are: 1) Money Tree (Pachira Aquatica), 2) Rubber Plant (Ficus Elastica), 3) Snake Plant (Sanseveria Laurentii), 4) Citrus Tree, 5) Blue Singapore Orchid (Vanda Coerulea), 6) Holy Basil (Ocicum Sanctum), 7) Jade Plant (Crassula Ovata), 8) Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia), 9) ...Which plant is lucky for bedroom? ›
It is advisable to avoid keeping the lucky plants in bedrooms. However, some plants such as Bamboo, Peace lily, Jasmine, and Lavendar can be placed in a bedroom.What is the strongest plant poison? ›
Every portion of this plant is packed of toxins, making it the most dangerous plant on the planet. Oleandrin and neriine are two of the most potent. The poison of an oleander is so potent that it can even poison someone who eats honey created by bees that have ingested oleander nectar.
The death tree or Manchineel tree is so poisonous, that even Guinness Book of World Records has recorded it to be the most dangerous tree in the world. The poisonous sap oozes out of everything, the bark, leaves and even the fruit.What's the most poisonous thing on earth? ›
The blue-ringed octopodes (Hapalochlaena spp.) produce tetrodotoxin, which is extremely toxic to even the healthiest adult humans, though the number of actual fatalities they have caused is far lower than the number caused by spiders and snakes, with which human contact is more common.What is the most painful plant? ›
excelsa. Known colloquially as the gympie gympie (from the Gubbi Gubbi/ Kabi Kabi name for the plant, gimpi gimpi), gympie stinger, and giant stinging tree (D. excelsa), this plant has the dubious honour of being arguably the most painful plant in the world.What plant can paralyze you? ›
Gelsemium comes in three flowering varieties – two native to North America and one to China. All three can be deadly. The most toxic variety of gelsemium, Gelsemium elegans, only grows in Asia, and is also known as “heartbreak grass”.
What is the deadliest flower on earth? ›
Nerium oleander the sweetly scented killer
The elegant Nerium oleander, the blossoms of which are crimson, magenta or creamy white, is one of the most toxic plants in the world. Every part of the plant, from its stem to its sap, is incredibly poisonous if ingested.
The truth of the matter is that foxgloves are indeed poisonous to touch. Although you may not experience an immediate reaction when you touch them, the toxins from touching them can still be transferred to other parts of your body such as the eyes and mouth. You could even transfer the toxins to an open wound.What is a death apple? ›
Manchineel or Death Apple (extremely toxic) Found near and on coastal beaches, has shiny heart- shaped leaves with yellow veins. Ingestion of the small green apple- like fruit can cause Death! Symptoms: Severe burning and blistering of the skin, temporary blindness.Can I be buried as a tree? ›
Absolutely! The team behind the tree pod burial system is currently selling the Capsula Mundi Biodegradable Urn on their website. All you need to do is inter the ashes of the deceased within the egg-like urn and place it beneath a tree. As the urn degrades, it gradually releases the ashes into the soil.Can you tap cherry trees? ›
Technically, just about any kind of tree can be tapped, including oaks, cherries, apples, ashes, and more. However, you'll need to pay attention to how much sap it takes to get a gallon of syrup, as well as how long the sap will run, for any type of tree you decide to tap.What animal kills the most humans? ›
In terms of the number of humans killed every year, mosquitos by far hold the record, being responsible for between 725,000 and 1,000,000 deaths annually.What animal venom kills the fastest? ›
And once that paralysis hits your diaphragm and rib muscles, you only have a few minutes before you suffocate to death. No, the fastest-acting venom on Earth belongs to the Australian Box Jellyfish or sea wasp. It's not the most potent venom out there. But encounter one of these guys and you'll be dead in 15 minutes.Which fish is most poisonous? ›
Puffer fish are the most poisonous fish in the world.What plant burns your skin? ›
When giant hogweed (GH) sap, which contains photosensitizing furanocoumarins, contacts human skin in conjunction with sunlight, it can cause phytophotodermatitis - a serious skin inflammation. In brief, the sap prevents your skin from protecting itself from sunlight which leads to a very bad sunburn.Do trees feel pain when cut down? ›
Given that plants do not have pain receptors, nerves, or a brain, they do not feel pain as we members of the animal kingdom understand it. Uprooting a carrot or trimming a hedge is not a form of botanical torture, and you can bite into that apple without worry.
Does grass feel pain? ›
Short answer: no. Plants have no brain or central nervous system, which means they can't feel anything.