So how poisonous is lantana really?

julia42(9a)September 16, 2010

I'm just wondering. We recently moved to a house with a really lovely lantana in the front yard. It's probably the only plant in the front yard that I like, and I would love to keep it, but I have three small boys who are, well, unpredictable. I'd love to say I should train them right and they should know not to eat random plants and all, and I know there are a million poisonous plants out there... This one seems to have pretty varying reports on its toxicity, though, from "skin irritant" to "fatal if ingested". Anyone know? Lantanas are pretty, but a dime a dozen here - I'm leaning towards taking it out.

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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

I don't know that I'd worry about them eating it -- it has a fragrance that "stinks" to me and the leaves are very rough. I try to wear long sleeves and gloves when I have to cut it back, even after it's died back, because it makes me itch (probably just "in my head"). I did go out and "try" a leaf, and while it didn't taste terrible, I don't think even a small boy is going to eat enough of it to do any damage. The leaves are kinda stiff & paper-y, so they'd really have to work at it! I'd compare it to trying to eat a fine-grade sandpaper.

With it being in the front yard, what about instigating a policy of "no children in the front yard without a parent"?

Most plants that are considered poisonous are only technically poisonous because you have to ingest such a large amount before it causes more than an upset stomach.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 6:43PM
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Well, that's sort of what I was wondering. The boys are not of an age where they'd be playing in the front yard alone, so I think I'd notice if they sat down to a full meal of the stuff. I could easily imagine my one year old popping a leaf or flower in his mouth before I caught him, though. I was more concerned if it was of a toxicity where it could do a lot of harm with just a tiny taste.

I appreciate the input!

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 8:48PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Hi Julia! There is a very informative article on the toxicity of plants on a site that starts with a D. Those who are familiar with the site can go there, click on articles, do a search for "plant toxicity" and find quite a few articles on the subject. Among them is an overview titled: "Toxic Plants- What Does That Really Mean"

Your "Page" is not set up to receive email, but if you can't find the site send a email to me from "My Page" I'll give you the link.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 9:16PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Birds eat the seed/berry off the plant so that part can't be that toxic. My son ate his fair share of rocks. I watched him once. He was very observant and checked it out , turned it over , and thought about it, Then I saw him roll the small pebble in his mouth and then he took it out and put it back on the ground. He was very particular. He would have never even thought about Lantana as a possibility. You guys are probably thinking.....What kind of mom watches her child eat rocks. I had Larkspur in the garden. He did not like to eat green leafy things so I felt safe.

Talk to your children about the plants. They understand more than you might guess.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 10:18PM
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one of my dogs eats the tips of them. I can't stand to brush against them when I'm sweaty or hormonally challenged. My sister in law has a landscaper trained at A&M offering suggestions near their fence. He said lantana aren't poisonous...don't worry about the cattle eating them.

that's all I know, my chow/ Australian shepherd dog started munching the tips of their branches years ago, most of the time he ignores them, they much do something tasty or perhaps he is self medicating.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 11:57PM
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plantmaven(8b/9a TX)

I found this on an Aggie web site:

Lantana Camara (Red Sage) Green berries
Fatal. Affects lungs, kidneys, heart and nervous system. Grows in the southern U.S. And in moderate climates.

Here is a link that might be useful: poison/toxic plants

    Bookmark   September 17, 2010 at 7:44AM
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well that makes it clear...except for the part where my dog does fine! I suspect he is eating the berries. I notice that he hasn't been nibbling for ages. Mine are just blooming again and he is ignoring them. I will watch and see if that changes once they set berries. These are the yellow/pink variety...I believe the name is confetti.

Soooo, I wonder if some are and some aren't and if the berries have some medicinal properties since this dog has weak i.e. sort tendons in his hips. He seems to be careful. This is not a dog that eats just anything. He's the guy who takes his part of the leftover burger, unwraps it, inspects it and leaves the pickle.

plants are fascinating. Maybe we are the critters most likely to eat toxic plants...

just musing

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 3:49PM
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Well, I don't know... Lots of animals dine on poison ivy without ill effects, too, but it certainly seems to affect us humans.

These are the kind of discussions that led me to post in the first place. I think that Aggie website was one of the places I had initially read about it being possibly fatal. As the article on the "D" website pointed out, though, anything can be fatal in large enough quantities. Water is fatal if too much is inhaled...

So if it's only the berries that are poisonous, are they fatal if you eat one, or 2 lbs of them?

I do of course teach my children not to eat things they pick in the yard. I also teach them not to play with knives, but I still don't leave knives sitting out on the counter where they can reach them, you know?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 8:10AM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

I would think that if lantana was very poisonous, it would be well known and it wouldn't be planted everywhere. Look at nightshade for an example.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 10:38AM
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rock_oak_deer(8b TX)

Dr. Jerry Parsons, one of our local plant experts, has addressed the poisonous landscape plant issue a number of times and I have linked to one article below. This article starts off with pet issues and then moves on to children.

He also did an article a few years ago about taking his young grandson for a walk around the neighborhood in a stroller and let him try to eat whatever plant he chose. The results were very informative and the pictures really told the story. Unfortunately, after searching several times the last few days I cannot find it.

You can also search and find other references where he discusses this issue.

Here is a link that might be useful: Article on Poisonous Landscape plants

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 11:47AM
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jhix(8 San Antonio)

With respeect, the differences in physiology among animals allow some to eat quantities of plant materials that would harm humans. Also, members of the same plant family may be harmless or poisionous to humans, such as bluebonnet, coral bean, locoweed, and mountain laurel, all members of the pea family. We're all aware, too, of the need to cook some plants in specific manner to reduce their toxicity, such as poke weed. And, some parts of a plant may be harmful to humans and another part may be beneficial.

My slight knowledge is from a good resource on this topic, "Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest", University of Texas Press, by Delena Tull. She discusses poisonous plants, including houseplants as well. When I hear comments about poisonous plants in the yard, I ask the commentator if they eat common poisonous plants such as spinach, broccoli, kale and cabbage.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 12:15PM
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While nightshade isn't used much as a landscape plant, oleander is, and it's quite poisonous. If I'd moved into a home with a stand of oleander it would have been promptly removed.

I'm not trying to be an alarmist, but rather just hoping to get some clarification. I'm not really keen on the idea of hacking down any plant that concerns me (although I can't say I feel some sort of moral imperative to preserve a lantana). I've been able to find fairly explicit information on some poisonous plants through internet research (certain hollies, for example). Lantana happens to be one for which I haven't found satisfactory answers and some sources seem to think is fairly dangerous. I figured people here might have some insight.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 4:08PM
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Just an additional thought re lantana toxicity: The seeds are very attractive to children, who are naturally curious. Recently my 3-yr-old granddaughter pointed to my lantana's glossy, blue-black seeds and said, "Look granny -- blueberries!" As you might imagine, we had an on-the-spot garden-rules-for-toddlers lesson. Even plants that are not highly toxic can have a significant impact on little 'uns.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 5:34PM
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I handle 4 or 5 calls a month about kids eating lantana. One thing to remember is the toxicity of plants can vary greatly depending on growing conditions, soil, time of year, age of growing in Peru might be toxic but no reports can be found of the same plant causing toxicity in the US.

In LARGE amounts the green berries can cause toxicity, the only reports I can find are of people attempting suicide by eating large amounts. The majority of them just got sick and vomited a lot. I have never sent a child to the ER for eating the berries, nor have any of my collegues. Local vets just report cases of vomiting in dogs eating these.

STEP AWAY FROM THE MOUSE! It is the worst place to look up anything medical! people call us hysterical because "The internet says..."

Call us if you have any questions or concerns about toxicity of plants. Call the poison center first for any ingestion by a child or adult. Do NOT induce vomiting!!!! Throw away syrup of ipecac if you have any.

Tally HO!
I am a S.P.I. (specialist in poison information), really, that is my job title. I am currently studying for my certification exam.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 12:01PM
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For the record, there has NEVER been an accidental death or major poisoning from oleanders. Ever. Not people, not animals. Never. They taste too horrible. People has committed suicide, attempted to poison others and poisoned animals but noone has ever died or become violently ill from ACCIDENTAL ingestion of oleanders. Mom could always tell when we were playing in the oleanders, it is the only time we ever washed our hands without being told. It tastes HORRIBLE, bitter, nasty, you start spitting if you want to or not. Even suicides fail as they can't eat enough of it.

Tally HO!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 9:41PM
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what a fascinating job. Do you for for a poison hot line?
Lucky us to get such great info from a great Tx gardener. Thank you!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 10:52PM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

I was told/taught that the problem with oleanders was inhaling the smoke when the branches were burned. Our neighbors, growing up, had a row of the bushes and that's what I remember my parents telling me...but maybe by then we'd shown that we wouldn't eat something that wasn't food?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:31PM
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I work for The Poison Control Center. There are 6 centers in Texas, I work at the Galveston center aka The Southeast Texas Poison Control Center. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, always free, always staffed by highly trained medical professionals. :)

Oleander SMOKE can be toxic, but it is very irritating and most people don't stand in the smoke for long. I couldn't find any reports of anyone dying from smoke inhalation while burning oleanders. Being outside helps. If I had a dollar for everyone that tells me they are freaked out and whacking down their oleanders I would be retired. Pothos are probably my most common plant calls.

If you call us we will send you Mr. Yuck stickers, coloring books, brochures on toxic plants, etc.

Tally HO!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 7:54AM
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Lin barkingdogwoods

Hey Tally - not to get too far off the topic of lantana, but what about Castor beans? We have a gorgeous Castor bean plant growing in the library garden, in the back by the wall. We received calls this past weekend on that being the most poisonous plant in the world (ricin is made from it).

What kind of danger does castor bean plant present?



    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 8:15AM
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if you swallow the seeds none, if you chew them up then they are extremely toxic. The prickly seed pods deter most kids and adults. You can buy the seeds at any garden center. They are a gorgeous small tree here, annual in the north. There are castor beans on my desk, along with sago seeds (highly toxic), beauty berry, palm, mushrooms and whatever else I stick in my pockets on my walks through campus.

The most famous poisoning case in the world was with ricin.
Georgi Markhov, dissident, suspected spy, was brushed by a passerby with an umbrella, he died a few days later of ricin poisoning, at autopsy a tiny metal ball was found in his leg, it had tiny perforations in it and was filled with ricin. The Bulgarian secret police remain the main suspects.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 8:33AM
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How large is this lantana? Sure your not talking about Oleander? There are many toxic plants, none more toxic than the toadstools that often grow in my lawn. Tomatos are delicious but the plant is toxic. If you have children that have a habit of putting things in their mouths, you might ought to remove anything potentialy toxic.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 9:51AM
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most of the mushrooms that grow in your lawn, especially after the rain, are known as lbm-or little brown mushrooms, they vary from snow white to earth brown and can actually be fairly large. They are gi irritants. Meaning they are most likely to cause gi irritation-nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Removing toxic plants can be near impossible, most ingestions by children are 1-2 bites and not toxic.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 4:12PM
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My dog eats one particular weed. He searches for it. We call it his "salad"... Our vet was so intrigued that he sent it to a friend at A&M to find out what it was. Turns out it is a wild Lantana. Don't know if it blooms... he never lets it get big enough. If he couldn't find it, though, he ate other larger Lantanas.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 1:35PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Greenan, that's really interesting. There must be some medicinal properties in the leaves that he needs, likes, or something. My dogs like to chew on Echinacea, which is a well known medicinal herb, Also Black foot daisy, which I don;t know about. But at least they don't take enough to damage the plants. They are not 'chewers' by nature and those are the only plants I've noticed they nibble on.,

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 3:09PM
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I was surprised to find this discussion still going on.

The lantana stills lives in my front yard, although I do keep threatening to hack it down. Not so much because I'm worried about its toxicity but because I keep thinking I could put something more interesting in its place. Then it blooms and I leave it... Oh well - maybe someday.

My youngest has reached the ripe ole age of four, and I can mostly count on him to not eat random stuff these days...

And Roselee, my dog loves echinacea too. Also lemon verbena and stevia and oregano. And his name is Basil!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2013 at 7:06PM
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One of my dogs would eat lantana in the yard almost every evening and would immediately throw up. I don't know why she kept doing it, so I pulled it out! I only keep lantana in the front yard now. I agree with previous posters. It stinks!!!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2013 at 10:34PM
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passaflora(9a CALIF)

In the latest email newsletter from "Eat the Weeds" it discussed lantana. The green berries are extremely poisonous but the ripe purple black ones usually cause no problems. it also discusses the edibility of the plant and some other uses for it and additional links.

In response to the post by beachplant oleanders are extremely poisonous one leaf is enough to kill a horse. I personally know of a case where someones horse ate a few dried leaves and died a horrible death from oleanders
here is a link from the American Cancer Society and the pet Poision hotline reguarding Olanders

Also according to the the howstuffworks website it is considered by many to be the most poisionous plant in the world. link included below


    Bookmark   November 21, 2014 at 10:13AM
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