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Holiday Plants: Naughty or Nice?

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Homes will be filled with holiday guests over the next few days, and it is important to make sure the decorations are not a hazard.

Vincent Lazaneo with the Farm and Home Advisor recommends that people keep flowers and plants out of reach of children and pets.  Problem plants include:

  • Mistletoe: Leaves and berries contain toxic substances that can cause vomiting and diarrhea.  Prevent berries from dropping on the floor by putting a net or plastic bag around the plant.
  • Holly: Eating the red berries will cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
  • Amaryllis: Can cause a stomachache if the bulb is eaten.
  • Azalea: Can cause serious illness or death if eaten.
  • Pyracantha: A common landscape plant often used in holiday arrangements.  It is generally safe, although eating a large amount of the berries can cause a stomachache.
  • Jequirity bean (Indian prayer bean): Bean is used in dry arrangements and jewelry and is common in Mexico. The seed is safe if swallowed whole, but can be life-threatening if chewed.
  • Poinsettia: These plants have a bad reputation, but they are actually relatively safe.  Eating the leaves can cause mild stomach problems and the sap can irritate the skin.
  • Floral arrangements: May contain plants and flowers that are poisonous.

Lazaneo’s advice: when in doubt, keep it out of reach of children and pets.  If someone has eaten something that you think could be poisonous, call the California Poison Action Line immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

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