September 29, 2018 3 min read

Some of Britain’s loveliest plants and flowers can be highly dangerous to humans and animals. Here are ten species which you might want to avoid - and some of them may surprise you.

  1. Giant Hogweed 

Sometimes referred to as the most dangerous plant in Britain, the giant hogweed looks extremely similar to cow parsley, although it can grow up to four metres tall. Although its white flowers are attractive, humans and animals should take precautions not to come into contact with this plant.

The sap of the giant hogweed causes severe burns to the skin, even through minimal contact. These burns can last months and often require hospital treatment, and the skin can remain sensitive for years afterwards.

  1. Rhododendron

Rhododendrons are beautiful plants, but do not be fooled by their bright, multicoloured floral displays. All parts of the rhododendron plant are highly toxic to humans and animals.

The health risks from ingesting this plant, particularly its nectar, are severe. Symptoms include vomiting, confusion and difficulty breathing., leading to cardiac problems and even coma in extreme cases.

  1. Laburnum

The laburnum tree is a stunning addition to any garden, with bright yellow flowers streaked with red. However, all parts of the laburnum are poisonous, causing vomiting, intense sleepiness and convulsions.

As the laburnum is related to the pea family, its seed pods are often highly attractive to children, who mistake them for pea pods.

  1. Foxglove

This popular garden plant is known for its tall spikes of pink and purple blooms, but these beautiful flowers are extremely toxic if ingested by humans or animals.

Eating the flowers of the foxglove can cause a rapid, irregular heartbeat, and can even be fatal if not treated quickly.

  1. Hydrangea

The spectacular blooms of the hydrangea light up our gardens between spring and autumn each year. Although it is lovely to look at, the hydrangea contains cyanide, which can cause stomach ache, vomiting, and in the worst cases, coma.

The amounts of cyanide in the hydrangea are small enough for most adults to cope with easily, but if you have children or pets, you’ll want to keep them away from the plant.

  1. Lily of the valley

It’s hard to believe the lily of the valley could be harmful, with its delicate white bell-shaped flowers. In fact, it is strongly toxic, and even handling the plant can cause fatigue and an upset stomach. If ingested, it produces confusion and an irregular heartbeat, and even extremely small amounts could be fatal to a child or pet.

If you have to handle the lily of the valley, always wear protective gloves, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

  1. Daffodil

One of the cheeriest plants in the garden, we look forward to the arrival of the daffodil each spring. Yet few people know that these popular flowers are poisonous.

Daffodils can cause headaches if humans are in a room with them for too long. If they are eaten, symptoms can include dehydration and vomiting. They are particularly dangerous for pets, who can suffer irregular heartbeats and convulsions from eating daffodils.

  1. Desert rose

The desert rose is hugely popular in British gardens for its attractive pink blooms. However, the sap from the plant contains ouabain, which is a deadly poison.

Fortunately, it is difficult to come into contact with the sap, but it causes extreme dizziness, intestinal pain and blisters in the mouth and throat. It can be fatal to animals and children, so these should be kept away from the plant as a precaution.

  1. Aloe Vera

We tend to associate aloe Vera with healing, as its leaves contain a gel which is used to soothe burns and treat skin conditions. If this gel is ingested, however, it can be toxic, causing stomach disorders, depression, and occasionally tremors in severe cases. So, don’t go and eat the lovely smelling gel. Aloe Vera is particularly toxic to animals, so it should never be grown in an area where it could be eaten by pets.

  1. Belladonna

Belladonna is sometimes known as deadly nightshade, and with good reason. While its purple and green flowers are beautiful, the belladonna is one of the most poisonous plants on earth. Ingesting just one leaf can be fatal to an adult.

Symptoms of belladonna poisoning include hallucinations, convulsions and coma, and they may not occur for hours or days after ingesting the plant. If you have children or pets, this is one to avoid at all costs.

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