Holiday Plants that can ruin your Holiday

It has long been thought that Poinsettias (Euphorbia spp.) are a deadly, poisonous holiday plant. I thought they were toxic until several years ago. That’s what my grandma had told me, that’s what my mom had told me, but new research has determined that they are, in fact, not poisonous. Now, I still wouldn’t let anybody munch on them, but a little nibble is no need to panic. Ingestion may only cause a mild stomach ache, and a little bit of nausea.

Pointsettias are not a deadly holiday plant as once believed. Their leaves may cause a mild stomach ache, and their sap a rash on sensitive skin.
Poinsettias  are not a deadly holiday plant as once believed. Their leaves may cause a mild stomach ache, and their sap may cause a rash on sensitive skin.

There are however, some real holiday plants to worry about. This is a little introduction to the plants you need to keep kids, pets and crazy Uncle John away from…

Holly berries (Ilex spp.):

Holly berries are a beautiful and common holiday decor plant. Ingesting one or two berries may not have any ill effect. Ingesting more than two berries, especially if a child can cause nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and diarrhea. Contact poison control if this occurs.

Eating more than two Holly berries can cause stomach pain, nausea and dirrarhea.
Eating more than two Holly berries can cause stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea.

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum spp):

The green parts and flower of the Amaryllis are considered non-toxic. The bulb of the Amaryllis can cause a stomach ache if ingested.

Jerusalem Cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum): Swallowing this ornamental plant can result in vomiting, redness of the skin, drowsiness or restlessness, and hallucinations. This plant has bright orange and dark red berries. In rare cases seizures may occur. Contact poison control if any part of the plant is thought to have been ingested.

The Jerusalem Cherry (also known as Winter Cherry) is a highly toxic plant. Contact poison control immediately if any of the plant has been ingested.
The Jerusalem Cherry (also known as Winter Cherry) is a highly toxic plant. Contact poison control immediately if any of the plant has been ingested.

Mistletoe (Phoradendron spp.): All parts of the plant contain toxic substances and if eaten can cause vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. One to two berries or leaves eaten by a child will NOT result in serious harm, but just as a precaution consult poison control for instructions. When hanging mistletoe in your home, place it in a piece of netting, this will help avoid young children or pets from eating the leaves and berries that drop off.

All parts of the Mistletoe plant are considered toxic if ingested.
All parts of the Mistletoe plant are considered toxic if ingested.

Rosary Pea or the Jequirity Bean (Abrus precatorius): The jequirity bean, commonly used in Mexico, is often used in jewelry making because of its dark red color and black tipped end. In India and Africa the plant has been used as both a human and an animal poison. There is no harm if the beans are swallowed whole, but can be life-threatening if they are chewed prior to swallowing. Vomiting and stomach-ache occurs within a few hours after swallowing. This is followed by bloody diarrhea. Dial 911 immediately if ingested.

The Rosary Pea can be deadly. It is also known by/as Jequirity, Crab's Eye, 'John Crow' Bead, Precatory bean, Indian Licorice, Saga Tree, Giddee Giddee or Jumbie Bead.
The Rosary Pea can be deadly. It is also known by/as Jequirity, Crab's Eye, 'John Crow' Bead, Precatory bean, Indian Licorice, Saga Tree, Giddee Giddee or Jumbie Bead.

It is always a good idea to keep all plants out of harms way. Even small amounts of toxic plants ingested in babies can result in illness. It is always best to be cautious and consider the plant to have been eaten if suspected. Never induce vomiting unless instructed by poison control. The toxins can due damage to the lungs and esophagus.

Local Poison Control numbers:

Helen DeVos Childrens Hospitol Poison Center: (800) 222-1222

Grand Rapids Blodgett Regional Poison Center: (800) 632-2727



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