7 Poisonous Plants that Grow in Florida

Recognizing poisonous plants is important. Which plants that grow in Florida should you stay away from?

Florida is known for its abundance of gorgeous flora, but there is a dark side to it. Many of the flowers commonly found in gardens around the state are poisonous.

Unsuspecting people might suffer from slurred speech, burning, itching, nausea, vomiting, seizures, heart difficulties, multiple organ failure, paralysis, and even death, if they get too close to a poisonous plant.

Knowing the names and qualities of plants you, your family, and your pets come into contact with, as well as any health issues they may create, is a good idea.

Check out these 7 poisonous plants that can be found in Florida.

1. Oleander

Oleander (nerium oleander) is a multi-branched shrub with a spread of 6 to 12 feet that grows up to 20 feet tall. It features smooth, narrow, strap-like leaves with white, yellow, pink, or red blooms.

Oleander is so poisonous that people don’t even need to eat it to become sick. Simply touching the plant or tree sap with bare hands, or breathing in the smoke of burning oleander, may cause poisoning.

Poisoning symptoms include severe cardiac rhythm problems, nausea and vomiting, cramps, and bloody diarrhea. Confusion, dizziness, weakness, tiredness, and vision abnormalities are other symptoms.

pink oleander rose flower in the garden

2. Glory Lily

The glory lily (gloriosa rothschildiana) is an 8-foot-tall climbing perennial. It features a lily-like blossom with red, yellow, or white petals. It’s often seen growing around fences and trellises.

The plant contains high levels of toxic colchicine. In India and Africa, the plant is grown commercially for use in Ayurvedic medicine.

Skin discomfort may occur after coming into touch with the tubers or sap. Numbness of the lips, tongue, and throat are common ingestion symptoms. After 2 to 12 hours, nausea, vomiting, and stomach discomfort may occur, as well as an elevated heart rate and chest pain. There have been reports of seizures, bone marrow failure, and death. 

very dangerous and poisonous glory lily flower

3. Poinsettia

Poinsettia (euphorbia pulcherrima) is a popular plant around Christmas. In Florida, it is also used as an accent plant in the landscape. When grown outside, it may reach a height of 12 feet. Its flower-like, leafy bracts may be white, variegated, or a variety of crimson colors.

Diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents may be detected in the milky white sap of poinsettias. In most circumstances, exposing children or dogs to any portion of the poinsettia plant has very little, if any, impact. But it may give you a rash if you touch the plant. And if eaten, you may experience moderate irritation in the form of nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

bright red poinsettia flower

4. Spotted Cowbane

The spotted cowbane is a tall, robust perennial with several leafy, hairless branches that are frequently streaked or spotted with purple. Surmounting the leafy stalks are tiny flowers with five white petals in compound umbels 2 to 5 inches in diameter.

The plant may be found in swamps, marshes, ditches, riverbanks, and other moist areas across Florida. It is unlikely to appear in a conventional residential garden, but if your landscaping incorporates or borders a low, wet natural area, you may encounter it.

Several dangerous chemicals, including the nerve poison cicutoxin, may be found in various sections of the plant, but cicutoxin, an unsaturated aliphatic alcohol that is most abundant in the roots, is the main poison. There have been countless examples of people being poisoned after incorrectly believing this plant was a wild carrot or parsnip.

Within 30 to 60 minutes of consumption, nausea, vomiting, and tremors appear, followed by severe cramps, projectile vomiting, and convulsions.

spotted white cowbane leafy stalks

5. Angel’s Trumpet

The angel’s trumpet (brugmansia) is a tiny tropical tree that may reach a height of 30 feet when planted in containers. It features a trumpet-shaped blossom with white, light peach, or pale pink flowers that are 6 to 24 inches long, depending on the type.

Angel’s trumpets contain several toxins, including the alkaloids atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine. The most poisonous parts of the plant are the leaves and seeds.

The plants may produce frightening hallucinations, paralysis, tachycardia, and memory loss. If eaten, it may be lethal.

yellow angels trumpet flowers after the rain

6. Rosary Pea

When supported by other plants, the rosary pea is an attractive, twining, woody vine that grows to a height of 10 to 20 feet. Flowers are abundant and occur in the leaf axils along the stems. Leaves are alternating, compound, and feather-like, with little oblong leaflets.

Rosary peas contain a poisonous chemical called abrin. In its native region, the roots are used to induce abortion and treat stomach pain in their native region.

If enough of the toxin abrin is swallowed, it produces bloody vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration may lead to low blood pressure, hallucinations, and seizures, if a person loses enough fluids. Thankfully, the poison is contained in the plant’s thick outer shell, so it is hard to extract.

rosary pea oblong leaflets

7. Castor Bean

The castor bean is a fast-growing, evergreen herbaceous or semi-woody large shrub or small tree. In frost-free areas, it can grow to a height of 40 feet, developing woody stems after a few years.

Unbeknownst to many, castor beans contain ricin. The poison can be made from the waste material left over after the processing of castor beans. It may be purchased as a powder, mist, or pellet, or it can be dissolved in water or a weak acid.

If a substantial amount of ricin is consumed, a person will most likely experience nausea, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Severe dehydration, followed by low blood pressure, might be the result. Seizures and blood in the urine are two other signs or symptoms to consider.

Leila Haynes
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