Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 7
   October 2012
   Horrors in the Garden: Hazardous Plants

Editor's note: The following is meant as general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Prickly burdocks are a foe to shaggy dogs and fleece-clad hikers alike.

After doing some weeding in a little country church garden this summer, I rediscovered the dark side of gardening. Absentmindedly, I had left my gardening gloves at home — a dreadful error. A few nights later, a creeping, insidious itch crept down my neck and back. Soon after, red, oozing blisters broke out and spread across my body. The walk-in clinic doctor diagnosed a bad case of poison ivy. The effect was, well, a bit of a horror show, at least until the medication took effect.

Even experienced gardeners sometimes fall prey to plants that can cause pain, misery and, although rare, even death. Some are native species; others, non-native. Each year, people, often children, and sometimes pets are poisoned or otherwise harmed from toxic berries, bulbs, leaves and other plant parts.

Of course, most plants are beneficial and perfectly benign, but hazardous plants, though much fewer in number, are found everywhere. They grow on country properties or in woods near swamps and streams. Sometimes, they are found on abandoned lots in cities and suburbs. They can even be found in our yards and homes. Readers, take heed: wear gloves, don't eat strange berries, educate your kids and remove hazardous plants that are a risk to you and your pets. Here are 10 common ones to avoid.

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