The most dangerous plants to keep in your home – Best Life
If there’s one surefire way to add joy, color, and liveliness to your interior, it’s by decorating with plants. Depending on your space, you can include hanging plants on windowsills, climbing plants on shelves, or tree-sized plants in an unused corner. If you take good care of them, these little lives will flourish and offer immeasurable ambiance. However, if you choose the wrong ones, this plan could backfire. According to Kelly Johnson Arbor, MD, medical toxicologist and co-medical director of the National Capital Poison Control Center (NCPC), up to 10% of calls to poison control centers involve human exposure to plants. Read on to find out which are the most dangerous houseplants to keep in your home.
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This flowering houseplant is attractive for its beautiful blooms and low-maintenance nature – just park it in front of a sunny window and watch it blossom. Then, absolutely never eat it. “This herb contains cardiac glycosides, which can cause severe poisoning when eaten,” says Johnson-Arbor. (Cardiac glycosides increase the strength of the heart and its rate of contractions, according to Cardiac Physiology and Pathophysiology.)
According to Mount Sinai, ingesting the plant could lead to low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, fainting, headache, and even death.
In fact, a 2001 report in the Archives of Disease in Childhood notes that ingesting as little as an oleander leaf can be fatal in children. The plant is also a widely used rat poison and should be kept away from cats, dogs and other pets.
Similar to oleander, the bright and beautiful foxglove plant contains cardiac glycosides. It is also a biennial flower that blooms every two years. However, Johnson-Arbor notes that in its non-flowering years, the leaves it produces look remarkably like baby spinach. “There have been several reports of individuals becoming very ill, with nausea, vomiting and abnormally slow heart rates, after unwittingly consuming foxglove leaves or infusing foxglove leaves to make tea,” says -she. Unfortunately, these symptoms can be life-threatening and people often need to be hospitalized. “Fortunately, there is an antidote available for heart poisoning from glycosides from both pharmaceuticals and plants,” she says. So if you are exposed seek emergency care immediately.
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Those struggling to keep houseplants alive may be drawn to the famously low-maintenance philodendron. This tropical plant, which comes in climbing and non-climbing varieties, only needs water about every two weeks and thrives in most light conditions. However, philodendron contains oxalate crystals that can cause toxicity when touched or eaten, says Johnson-Arbor. When chewed or swallowed, the crystals can cause mouth pain, swelling, painful swallowing, and drooling. Exposure of the eyes or skin to the sap of the plant can cause irritation and redness. “Fortunately, these symptoms are unlikely to be permanent or even long-lasting,” says Johnson-Arbor. “But since they can be very painful and irritating, it is recommended that you avoid touching or consuming these plants.”
Dumbcan may seem like an unsophisticated plant, but it has the same oxalate crystal defense mechanism as philodendron. In fact, its name is derived from its toxicity, as swallowing the dumbcane plant can lead to difficulty in speaking or loss of speech. Although the symptoms you might experience from ingesting this plant are frightening, they rarely lead to a medical emergency. According to CNPC, in one case, an 18-month-old boy chewed on a piece of a dumbbell and began to gag. The poison control center asked her mother to rinse her mouth and offer her something cold and creamy to eat or drink. Within an hour, the boy’s symptoms had subsided.
Fig trees have been all the rage in home decor lately. However, those hoping to add one to their home should take note. “Certain plants, including fig trees (ficus species) and poinsettias, can cause allergic reactions in people with latex allergies,” says Johnson-Arbor. “That’s because the sap of these plants contains latex.” When the stem or leaf of the plant is broken, this sap can escape and cause a reaction. Of course, if you’re not allergic or only have a mild allergy, that’s fine. But if you’re someone who suffers from severe hives or anaphylaxis, you’ll want to steer clear.
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