After a typical midwestern winter, the months of May through October bring a welcome change: warm temperatures, longer daylight hours and a green environment. Children spend more time outdoors during these months and will easily find many interesting things to investigate, including plants.

Exposures to plants, including both house and garden varieties, make up nearly ten percent of all the poison exposures in young children reported by poison centers each year. Most exposures occur in the spring and summer months. In the midwest there are hundreds of poisonous plants that are capable of causing illness or injury in dozens of ways. The potential symptoms of toxicity depend on the specific plant involved.

Plant Safety Prevention tips

  • Identify all plants in your home and yard. This is best accomplished by bringing samples to a nursery or greenhouse, as it is nearly impossible to identify a plant over the phone. House, garden and wild plants, "weeds", trees and shrubs should be identified.
  • Label all plants with their proper name. Write it on tape with permanent ink and place it on the bottom or outside of the planter. Make a rough sketch of your yard and garden, including location and name of trees, bushes and plants.
  • Determine if your plants are toxic by using the poison center's Plant Guide. Remove plants that are considered dangerous.
  • Keep children away from plants with berries. Because of their color, shape, and texture, berries are very attractive to youngsters. Not only are they found on garden and wild plants, but toxic berries are common in dried flower arrangements.
  • Remove all mushrooms in the yard, especially after rainy spells in spring and fall. Most reported deaths from plants result from ingesting wild mushrooms. Identification of mushrooms growing in the yard is very time consuming, even to experts, therefore, it is best to assume all varieties are toxic. It is important to call the Poison Center if any portion of a mushroom is ingested.
  • Contact the Poison Center if you suspect a poisoning. As plant material may be slowly digested, symptoms of poisoning can be delayed. Do not wait for problems to develop, instead, call the Poison Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222 .