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Eco Friday: 10 plants your kids should avoid!

It’s Spring gardening season again.

Lush plants and vegetation make for wonderful curb appeal for the home, but whether at home, hiking, playing in the park and about, there are some plants that are not safe for adults, and definitely not kids. Here is a list of 10 plants your kids should avoid. Clip and save.

  1. Poison Ivy: This green plant found in the woods, at the park or almost anywhere should be avoided.  Not everyone has a bad reaction to poison ivy, but some people do.  Sometimes reaction to poison ivy is a cumulative thing too.  The first few times you touch it nothing happens, but the fourth time you could react.  It’s best just to steer clear of them.
  2. Poinsettia: This beautiful plant, seen mostly at Christmastime, is highly poisonous if ingested.  Your best bet is to keep them up off the floor to keep them away from toddlers and pets.
  3. Cactus: There are some varieties of cacti that have needles that are anywhere from 1-6 inches long and these can be very dangerous for a child to run into while playing.  Especially a small child that might be at the right height to get poked in the eye.
  4. Mushrooms and Toadstools: If you serve mushrooms to your children to eat then this caution is especially important.  Kids will not know the difference between the kind of mushrooms that they’ve seen in a salad or on pizza and the ones that they see growing in their yard.  Most mushrooms found in the wild are poisonous.  Children should avoid putting anything into their mouth, but as we know sometimes that is not an easy lesson to teach a toddler who is exploring their world by putting everything into their mouth.
  5. Rhubarb leaves: Now this is a weird one and one that will be hard to explain to your kids.  The stalk of the rhubarb is a fruit and it’s edible, but the leaf of the rhubarb stalk is poisonous.  I grew up eating rhubarb right out of the garden and I never once tried to eat the big green leafy part, but just make sure to let your child know that they have to cut the leaf off before they eat the stalk.
  6. Dumb cane (aka Dieffenbachia): A common houseplant, this Dieffenbachia (pronounced dee-fuhn-bak-ee-uh) is very welcoming with its broad green and gold leaves.  It is one of the most poisonous houseplants and one you should probably steer clear of if you have little ones around or pets.
  7. Holly bushes: Children are attracted to red berries or berries of any color really so it’s important to make sure that children know that they should never eat berries off of bushes.  The leaves of the holly bush are also incredibly sharp and pokey so it’s probably a good one to omit from your landscape.
  8. Black-eyed Susan: This fun pretty flower appears in home flower gardens as well as in the wild.  Eating the petals of this flower will probably not kill you or your child, but they will certainly have a stomach ache.  The seeds are very poisonous though and should be avoided.  The root is said to have some of the same medicinal properties as Echinacea and the flower petals can be used in teas, but great care needs to be taken when doing this and it’s not something for the home gardener to dabble in.
  9. Yucca: If you are not familiar with the yucca plant it has large spikey arms and thrives in warm climates and deserts.  This plant stores water in its fleshy arms so it’s a great plant for areas that are prone to droughts.  These plants can grow to amazing heights, but most are around 3-5 feet high and if you’re not careful their spikey arms will poke you or your child in the eye.  This plant is a definite no-no in a yard for children.
  10. Pampas grass: This ornamental grass appears in many landscapes.  They are very invasive so they are usually seen in public areas.  Your child might come into contact with one at a restaurant or country club.  Warn your child not to touch the leaves or the blades of grass because they are literally like little blades.  The edges are very sharp and can cut you or your child.  The pampas grass blooms with this big fluffy white poof on the top and they look so soft that children are drawn to them.  A good example of a time when they should look, but don’t touch.

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