Your Favorite Plants May Be Killers – Part 2

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In part one of this set of articles, we touched on five common garden plants that are popular for the drama and color they add to your garden, but are also toxic to animals, children and, in some cases, even adults. In our second part, we take a look at six more killer plants that you may be tempted to use – including the worst killer of them all.

By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Snakeshead Fritillary – One of the less common but no less deadly plants, the dangling, lampshade-like flowers are stunning and help to make your garden more vertical. However dramatic they may look, you’re in for much more drama if you ingest them. They contain the poisons imperialine, tulipalin, and tuliposide, the ingestion of which can cause vomiting, spasms, and hypertension. This can affect kidney functions, and can lead to cardiac arrest.

By Franco Folini from San Francisco, USA (Poet's Daffodil (Narcissus poeticus)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Franco Folini from San Francisco, USA (Poet’s Daffodil (Narcissus poeticus)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Poet’s Narcissus – There’s a good chance that you’ve gotten a headache from a bouquet of Narcissus in a room, so you can probably conclude that ingesting it would be a bad idea. While the leaves will act as emetics and can cause headaches and vomiting, prolonged contact with or ingestion of the bulb is much worse. This can lead to nausea, convulsions, fainting, paralysis, and death. Make sure not to allow the bulb to come in contact with open wounds, as secretions from the bulb can enter your bloodstream this way.


Belladonna – Also commonly referred to as nightshade, this is possibly the most well-known killer garden plant. Popular amongst early poisoners, it also found a home in some decorative gardens. Although not too popular, mainly due to its deadly nature, it does sometimes find a place thanks to the eye catching berries. The berries are the most poisonous part of the plant too – a handful will bring the loss of voice, respiratory complications, digestive issues, and violent convulsions, leading to death.


Larkspur – All members of the buttercup family are toxic to some extent. Larkspur is one of the most beautiful, but also one of the most toxic members of the family. They are known for their bright colors and low levels of maintenance needed. They can also be a killer, with toxic alkaloids contained in the highest concentration in young leaves and mature seeds. These alkaloids will cause nausea and vomiting almost immediately after ingestion, and can lead to cardiac issues. If enough is ingested, it can be deadly in a short amount of time – in some cases, as little as six hours.


Periwinkle – These hardy evergreen shrubs produce beautiful star-shaped purple flowers that makes for pleasing ground cover. They contain alkaloids, some of which are used in chemotherapy. Those same alkaloids can also cause a wide variety of ill effects when ingested in a high enough amount, from mild abdominal cramping all the way to serious cardiac complications.


The Deadliest Plant in Your Garden


Oleander – Not as famous as foxglove or Belladonna, there are no decorative plants more deadly than oleander. This killer is a popular ornamental shrub, but also contains the poisons digitoxigenin, neriin, oleandrin, and oleondroside. All parts of the plant have the toxins, including the twigs. A single leaf can cause death in a small child, and it doesn’t take much more to cause death in larger children, adults, and animals. Ingestion can bring symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, intense stomach pain, drowsiness, dizziness, an irregular heartbeat, and in many cases, death. It truly is the nastiest killer of all garden plants.

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Written by Andrew T for LawnEq - The specialists for Lawn Mower Parts and Small Engine Parts. We offer genuine premium OEM parts for Land Pride, Toro and many more dependable brands.