Poison-free woodland plants

mary420April 11, 2013

I am planning a small shade garden in the back side of my yard beneath some trees. Many of the plants that I have found that seem suited to this area Re poisonous when I google them. I have small children and haven't completely ruled out a dog in the future. Any suggestions for safer alternatives? Or am I being overly cautious?

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jadie88(7 MD)

I don't have a specific answer for you, but I came to this conclusion regarding poisonous plants and my little ones: kids who are young enough to be eating the plants (toddlers mainly) are also too young to be in the yard without my supervision, so I don't really worry about it. When they are old enough to be on their own in the back, they are also old enough to know what isn't food. :) I don't have any of the more toxic varieties, and most plants labeled as poisonous would have to be eaten in rather large amounts in order to cause trouble. Frankly, they don't taste good enough to keep the kids coming back for more. :)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 5:40PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

There are many toxic plants - surely there are some already around you so if you want a toxic-free world, that bird has already flown! ;)

When my own kids were small, they never were left unattended outside so no toxic plant worries. As they got older, I showed them toxic plants (such as bittersweet nightshade) that grew every where with very attractive looking berries. I taught them how to identify it and how if they ate the berries they would get sick. It was the perfect teaching plant for plant safety. I knew I could not always be at their side and I could not make the world toxic plant free so I taught them how to be smart and safe with plants.

That said, I would suggest you look up what plants you are interested in. If something is highly poisonous (ex: monkshood, poison hemlock, castor bean, etc.), avoid it completely. Google makes this a trivial thing to do.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 8:08AM
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tom_nwnj(z6 NJ)

I don't know where you are located, but around here I would be more concerned with stinging insects versus children, than with kids eating stuff they shouldn't.

We have 6 acres here. I do all the maintenance. I know what stinging insects (yellow jackets, hornets and paper wasps) all look like, and their nesting preferences, and I still get stung almost every year. Last summer was particularly bad. I had to destroy 6 nests total. These insects can be very dangerous.

I would ask your pediatrician or local paramedics what their experience is in you location. Might be different from mine, predatory birds, etc. Hope so anyway.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:10AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I agree that you are being overly cautious. Even if a child did put something in their mouth, it would probably taste bad and they'd spit it out. And, as others have commented, a very young child is not likely to be outdoors unsupervised. Relax and enjoy your gardening.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 8:19PM
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Yup^...I won't fault you for being concerned with your kids' welfare, but other than just the few very toxic items, for the most part I think you are over-worrying.

Not you, but I recall a couple I knew who lived on a "wooded lot" with woods behind their house, but which couple would not let their young boy play out in the woods, because of "poison ivy" and the like. I asked them, 'is there any poison ivy out there?' and of course, neither one of these adults had a clue. What a travesty of overprotection! Not saying that's you, but I'm sure you get the point.

We played all day every day in the woods, creeks, wherever we could make a fort or whatever. Nobody hovered over us to keep us alive, yet amazingly, almost all of "us" made it! It seems to me, there are far more imminent threats to be concerned about.


    Bookmark   November 25, 2014 at 9:43AM
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