Choosing which varieties of plants and flowers to grow indoors and in your garden beds can be daunting. You need to research whether they'll thrive in your light, water, and soil conditions and if they have invasive properties before using them in your space. Then you get to decide which ones fit your aesthetic. Unfortunately, some of the most beautiful and tantalizing options are actually poisonous plants. In fact, that's the secret to their harmful powers. Toxic plants often have bold colors to warn insects and animals to stay away—or draw them in. If you have pets or children, you may want to avoid poisonous plants altogether or be extra cautious about where you use them.
While it's common knowledge that many indoor houseplants can be harmful to your pets if eaten, flowers can be just as deadly to people and animals. Unlike poison oak and poison ivy, these poisonous plants aren't just found in the woods or while you're on a hike. In fact, hemlock appears like a common weed, and floral arrangements frequently include daffodils and lilies.
The most poisonous plant is oleander (Nerium oleander), which can be fatal when eaten. However, many poisonous plants simply cause rashes or severe allergy symptoms. No one wants that, of course, but it's a relief to know that not every poisonous plant is cause for an emergency room visit. Ahead, we break down 16 of the most common (and most beautiful) poisonous plants to watch out for and remove from your garden. We've included images to help you identify what you're seeing in your yard. If you're unsure, we recommend playing it safe and asking a professional.
Despite its romantic connotations, all parts of this traditional holiday decoration—berries, stems, and leave—are actually incredibly harmful if ingested. So definitely don't kiss it, and if you have pets or children, you may want to consider hanging a faux version.
Just touching poison ivy can cause severely painful rashes, swelling, and itching. Some people are so allergic that coming into contact with smoke from a fire that's burning the plant can spark a reaction—yet another reason to dispose of yard waste properly. It can be tricky to kill poison ivy, but it's worth it.
Similar to poison ivy, poison oak leaves resemble oak leaves and produce an oil that can cause a rash and itching when it comes in contact with skin.
This plant's seeds aren't dangerous on their own—in fact, they're actually often dried and used in jewelry—but if cracked, broken, or chewed, their juice can have poisonous effects.
When raw and uncooked, yellow dock can cause difficulty breathing or heart issues if eaten. It's also toxic to dogs.
Symptoms of eating only a small part of this plant include drowsiness, slowed heart rate, and shaking. In one case, just a leaf was enough to cause harm. Too much can be fatal.
Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death by drinking poisonous hemlock. Its danger is no myth: This plant's toxin, which smells a bit like carrots, attacks the nervous system and can cause serious harm to animals and humans if ingested.
While these delicate blooms can add ample color and texture to your garden beds and planters, keep them out of reach of children and pets because they are toxic if eaten.
Although commonly used to treat asthma and other health conditions, this trumpet-shaped flower can lead to nausea, vomiting, and hallucinations if a lot is ingested or inhaled. Its dried pods are often used in fall decorations since they have a witchy look; they should be kept out of reach of children and pets too.
As anyone who has seen the end of The Hunger Games knows, nightshade is poisonous. It can cause severe illness and even death when eaten.
While the flowers are safe, the sap of this plant can cause skin sensitivity to sunlight. It can make you more prone to sunburn and painful blisters.
The color and shape of this cute plant make it ideal for fall wreaths and floral arrangements. (It looks just like dried mini pumpkins on a vine.) However, both its leaves and fruit are toxic, so decorate with care.
This plant may be frequently used for medicinal purposes, but never raw. The sharp edges of its prickly leaves can (as you might suspect from the name) "sting" you, injecting an acid that can cause burning and rashes.
While sweet-tart rhubarb stems are delicious to eat and bake with, the leaves can cause kidney problems and even fatal failure if too much is ingested.
Lily of the Valley
While beautiful to display and include in floral bouquets, this stunning flower can send you to the hospital with dizziness, vomiting, rashes, and/or diarrhea if you eat is. Like all types of lilies, including daffodils, it's highly toxic (even fatal) to cats.
These beautiful clusters of blooms are actually deadly and can cause severe burning of the lips, mouth, and throat when eaten.
Kate McGregor is House Beautiful’s SEO Editor. She has covered everything from curated decor round-ups and shopping guides, to glimpses into the home lives of inspiring creatives, for publications such as ELLE Decor, Domino, and Architectural Digest’s Clever.
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