Whether outdoors on a hike or indoors to enhance your decor, plants are beautiful. However, there are times when plants can lead to unfortunate consequences.
Indeed, some plants are toxic when ingested or simply touched. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Knowing the plants around you will help you avoid a nasty surprise when you go out to enjoy the great outdoors or when your children let their curiosity run wild.
Poison ivy and ragweed
It is common for people to mix these two plants, especially in French. However, the reactions caused by these plants are very different.
Poison ivy is a plant that is distinguished by its leaves grouped in threes. The colour can change depending on the month in which you come across it. It is known to cause intense skin reactions when the skin comes into contact with the sap.
Ragweed is a very invasive annual plant that is recognized as one of the most important causes of seasonal allergies. It can therefore cause symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
Spotted Water Hemlock
This plant is one of the most poisonous in Canada. It can be found near marshes, pastures or waterways. It has a hollow stem with a purple pattern and produces clusters of flowers forming an umbrella.
It is sometimes confused with edible roots such as wild parsnips. However, it can be deadly if ingested. It contains a toxin that attacks the central nervous system and death can occur in as little as 15 minutes. It is therefore better not to consider yourself a grower in the wild; get carrots and parsnips directly from the grocery store.
This plant does not go unnoticed. It can grow up to 5 meters high and has large leaves with serrated edges and white umbrella-shaped flowers.
Its sap contains toxins that are activated by light. If the skin comes into contact with the sap and is exposed to light, blisters and burns may occur. Medical consultation is necessary if the area of exposure is large or if the eyes are affected.
This is a native shrub that contains a toxic molecule in its bark, branches, needles and seeds, but not in its fruit.
The poison, paclitaxel, works very quickly. It can cause tremors, paralysis, low blood pressure and ultimately respiratory arrest.
Paclitaxel is used in medicine to fight certain cancers, but in nature it can be an extremely poisonous plant.
Les plantes d’intérieur ajoutent de la vie dans une maison. Il faut toutefois être prudent, particulièrement si on a des enfants ou des animaux.
Everyone knows this plant, which contains a clear gel in its leaves. Although this gel can have great virtues, it is quite different for the sap, which has a yellowish color.
It can cause skin irritations. In addition, ingestion of the leaves or stem could cause diarrhea, especially in infants.
If the leaves of this plant are ingested, one can end up with inflammation of the mouth, nausea, and low blood pressure. People can even fall into a coma.
Decorative Pepper Plant
Don't be fooled by their edible appearance, the small chilies of this plant can cause discomfort when ingested. Irritation, nausea and diarrhea can occur. Forget about using them to decorate your dishes and keep them away from young children who might confuse them with their edible counterparts.
Pink Charm Mountain Laurel
Despite its sweet and romantic appearance, this plant is extremely toxic if ingested. A small amount can be fatal.
Toxic effects can occur several hours after ingestion, which can complicate the diagnosis. One can end up with irritation, diarrhea, breathing difficulties. And all of these symptoms can lead to a coma and be fatal. Caution is required.
In case of a skin reaction
If you suffer from itching or skin irritation after a hike, chances are you came into contact with a plant. Consult your pharmacist. They can advise you on how to relieve the problem or direct you to the best resource.
Caution is the order of the day
Whether indoors or outdoors, err on the side of caution. Animals and children are particularly vulnerable. It is therefore essential to keep houseplants out of their reach. In case of ingestion, quickly contact the Poison Control Centre (1 800 463-5060) to find out what to do.
Knowing how to identify plants is an asset to know how to differentiate dangerous plants. The use of a guide to identify plants can be interesting, but in case of doubt, it is preferable to admire from afar a plant that you do not know.