The weather is getting warmer, the butterflies are out in full force and peeks of green are appearing in Illinois after a long, cold winter. One of the things spring brings to the IPC is an increase in exposures to plants. Usually, it’s a child who tasted a colorful flower or sampled a tasty-looking berry; the IPC will get these calls from spring all the way through fall.
Thankfully, most Illinois spring plants are not toxic. However, there are a few plants that you should keep away from youngsters.
Here are some of the most beautiful spring plants in bloom now (you can always check them out at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illinois):
Skin, Mouth and Stomach Irritants:
Bleeding Heart is a unique looking plant that can cause skin irritation or stomach upset if swallowed.
(Bleeding Heart image from the Chicago Botanic Garden)
Daffodils can cause nausea, vomiting and potentially some mouth or skin irritation.
(Daffodil image from the Chicago Botanic Garden)
Spurges can cause skin irritation or nausea and vomiting. Spurges are actually part of the large Euphorbia genus that also contains the Poinsettia plant. Unlike the holiday poinsettia, this one is pure spring.
(Spurge image from the Chicago Botanic Garden)
Tulips are mainly known for causing skin irritation and a rash with skin contact, but could also cause minor stomach upset if swallowed.
(Tulip image from the Chicago Botanic Garden)
More Serious Toxic Plants:
Lily of the Valley blooms from late spring to early summer and contains a toxin that mainly affects the heart (cardiac glycoside). A small taste of a leaf or flower by a child is unlikely to cause anything more than an upset stomach. If more could have been swallowed, best to call the IPC!
(Lily of the valley image from Wikipedia)
Spring Rhododendrons contain grayanotoxins that affect transmission among muscle or nerve cells in the body. Luckily, a taste of a rhododendron flower or leaf is unlikely to cause any toxicity. Larger amounts of plant material would be needed to cause the more concerning symptoms such as numbness or tingling. Still best to keep the kiddos away from this one!
(Rhododendron image from the Chicago Botanic Garden)
These plants are all safe! (Not that we recommend making a flower salad)
(Flowering Quince image from the Chicago Botanic Garden)
(Forsythia image from the Chicago Botanic Garden)
(Lilac image from the Chicago Botanic Garden)
(Magnolia image from the Chicago Botanic Garden)
(Phlox image from the Chicago Botanic Garden)
(Serviceberry image from the Chicago Botanic Garden
For more information on toxicity of plants, check out IPC’s plant list. For more information re: pets and toxic spring plants, check out ASPCA’s: “April Showers May Bring Spring Bulbs. What Does that Mean for Your Pet? For a free IPC Safety Packet (includes sticker, magnet, first aid recommendations, etc.), click here.