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Are Your Houseplants Safe?

Updated on June 19, 2013

Aloe Vera

Houseplants are a great way to enhance the beauty of a home or office, but they can also provide much more than an ascetic atmosphere. They have also been proven to alleviate stress, regulate humidity and generally make an environment healthier.

Indoor plants can reduce fatigue, coughs, sore throats and other cold-related illnesses by more than 30 percent, partially by increasing humidity levels and decreasing dust.

Therefore, they are a natural way to help remove pollutants. Incredibly, they can remove almost 90 percent of air toxins in a 24 hour period. Some common plants known to purify air include:

Air Dragon tree and Spider plants

Peace lilies, Ferns and Chrysanthemums

Ivy, Ficus and Philodendrons

Although eating or touching these plants is generally considered safe, any plant might cause a reaction in certain individuals. That said, there are some common plants, although beneficial for air purification, known to have toxins and poisons. These could present a health hazard to children and house pets.

Angel's Trumpet

Angel's Wings

English Ivy

A poisonous plant may produce a harmful reaction in humans or animals. It could take the form of allergic reactions, dermatitis, skin irritation or even internal poisoning. Allergic reactions are not generally classified as poisoning because there are many plants that can cause allergies and sensitivity to a particular plant varies among individuals. Some of these toxic plants contain a variety of poisons that may cause symptoms from a mild stomach ache to serious heart or kidney problems.

The best way to identify one is by seeing a picture of it. It is important to be aware of problems toxic plants might cause. Knowledge is the key. Know what type of plants are to be put in a room and their potential threats. Although to be dangerous, most toxic plants have to be consumed in large quantities, but not all. They often have a bitter or acrid taste, so youngsters or pets usually won’t consume much before spitting it out. But regardless, children need to be educated about them.

Take the Aloe Vera plant for example. Its juice is well known for healing cuts and burns. However, it can cause dermatitis in children with more sensitive skin. The Angel's Trumpet or Thorn Apple is also a poisonous plant having very beautiful flowers. But it can be deadly if ingested by humans or pets. Symptoms may include spasms, coma, drowsiness, hallucinations and high temperature.

These plants are also considered toxic:

Amaryllis, Anthurium, Apricot kernels

Azaleas, Caladium, Calla Lily

Chinese evergreen, Colchicum, Daffodil

Dumb Cane, Elephant’s Ear, English Ivy

Fishtail Palm, Holly Berries, Hyacinth

Jerusalem cherry, Lantana, Mistletoe

Mountain laurel, Oleander, Philodendron

Ranunculus, Rosary Pea, Schefflera and Spathiphyllum

These are considered safe and not poisonous:

African daisy, African violet, Aluminum plant

Golden Bamboo, Bird of Paradise

Baby’s tears, Bird’s Nest fern, Boston fern

Camellia, Cast Iron Plant, Christmas cactus

Coleus, Corn Plant, Donkey’s Tail

Dracaena, Echeveria, Geraniums

Maidenhair fern, Nerve Plant, Orchids

Goldfish Plant, Impatiens, Jade Plant

Japanese Aralia, Kalanchoe, Lipstick Plant

Most Palms, except fishtail palm, Peperomia

Swedish Ivy, Wax Plant, Zebra Plant and Wandering Jew whose sap may be irritate skin.

If it is suspected a child or pet has ingested such a plant, immediately notify a physician or veterinarian. It’s also advisable to contact the National Poison Center 1-800-815-8855 with the plant’s identity. They can provide valuable information of whether further action is required.


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      And even if you don't.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      This is great info if you have pets and/or children in your house.