The fact that plants are good for us is fully acknowledged and embraced by most. But some plants are better than others. Some plants are harmful, and it's essential to know which are poisonous for children, adults and pets. It's important to be wise without being paranoid, because the benefits of plants certainly outweigh the dangers.
We now know that humans have an innate tendency to make connections with nature and this is beneficial to health and wellbeing. It’s known as the biophilia hypothesis and it makes perfect sense.
But will any old plant do the job?
It’s important to choose non-toxic plants if there’s any danger of nibbling! Pets and kids are continually exploring the world around them and anything from the natural world has a strong appeal. Whether it’s at home or in the workplace, the safety aspect of plants shouldn’t be ignored.
if your work premises is open to the public – or if small children or puppies form the core of the business, place your plants with care.
Many plants are really good for us and designed to be eaten. Others will do no harm if they are ingested. Some will cause upset stomachs and could damage organs if enough is eaten. A few plants are extremely poisonous and can cause death. They include Aconitum or Monkshood, pictured below.
There’s no doubt that many plants are extremely good for us. We are designed to eat produce including fruit, vegetables and herbs. Some should be cooked and others can be eaten raw. Raw potatoes should never be eaten as they contain potentially toxic compounds called glycoalkaloids which greatly upset the digestive system. Brussels sprouts can also cause gas in the intestines and shouldn’t be eaten raw.
When it comes to indoor plants, there are many beauties that are harmless if accidentally consumed by people or pets. They include the glorious Areca palm, which also happens to be a highly efficient air-filtering plant too. The Canary Island date palm, Phoenix canariensis is believed to be non toxic too.
Or if you want something a little smaller, look at the ponytail palm, Nolina maya which is also known as Beaucarnea recurvata. It has a trunk like an elephant’s foot as this is where it stores water – a bit like a miniature version of the iconic Baobab tree of Africa and Australia.
Then there is an array of wonderful succulents including the rosette forming Echeverias that are safe around pets and children. If you want something that gives you flowers as well as foliage, the glorious Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera will not disappoint. These are not believed to be poisonous and could therefore make an ideal gift for a child to wrap and give to granny!
Hanging plants including the good old spider plants, Chlorophytum – in all its various forms – are also considered to be safe, and they are really easy to look after too. It produces offsets regularly and makes an ideal subject for propagation. Little fingers will come to no harm during the potting up of spider plant babies.
Dogs shouldn't eat plants unless you know they are safe. But they also can’t consume some of the seemingly healthy food that is fine for humans. Here’s a selection of food that can easily harm your pet: