Tips and Guides

Which Garden Plants Can Go Bad?

Some of your pretty, seemingly harmless plants can actually hurt you

Original Article: Jan Imperio Photography: Miguel Nacianceno

It's no suprise that parents are diligent about protecting their children from harm—poisonous chemicals and medicines are properly stored away from their reach, sharp objects far from their curious hands, and their rooms sprayed with insect repellants to keep it pest-free. However, not a lot of people know that there are other dangers still lurking within the home—more specifically, in the form of plants in the garden. Check them out below: 

Poison ivy isn't the only toxic plant. 

Unknown to many people, some of the common houseplants are toxic to a certain degree. As a general rule, plants that exude a milky white sap when injured can be considered poisonous. For example, the dieffenbachia, more commonly known as bakya or suwerte, can cause paralysis of the mouth and tongue when ingested. The juice of the poinsettia can irritate the eyes and even cause blindness while the flowers of the angel’s trumpet, when eaten, can result in hallucinations.

Plants with thorns should be avoided, too. 

On the other hand, plants that have stray thorns can be just as dangerous due to their physiology. The agave plant, commonly used in landscaping because of its exquisite form, contains sharp thorns at the end of its leaves. Similarly, bougainvillea, crown of thorns, some yuccas, and coral trees contain thorns around their stems that can inflict harm if one isn't careful. 

Oh my higad!

Even plants that do not inflict injury directly can be just as dangerous. Some garden trees, such as the fire tree and golden shower plant, are favorite host plants of caterpillars and other insects. Unsuspecting guests can be victim to severe skin irritation if one of these insects accidentally drops down on them.

Read the original article ("When Garden Plants Go Bad") in the July 2006 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

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