What Are Poisonous Plants For Children ( 116 Outdoor Plants)

What Are Poisonous Plants For Children? ( 116 Outdoor Plants)

Most plants are helpful and completely safe for children’s play spaces. However, there are several naturally occurring poisons in the plant world, some of which are highly concentrated in certain plant species. As a result, to ensure garden safety for kids, it is crucial to learn about poisonous plants for children.

Due to the importance of this subject, the effects of poisonous plants on children will be discussed in this article, along with a list of 116 poisonous outdoor plants that should be avoided in gardens and play places with kids.

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     If you are interested in this topic, you can also read

     <<Gardening With Toddlers>> and  <<Kid-freindly indoor Plants >> articles.

    About Poisonous plants

    There are numerous poisonous plants, both outdoors and indoors. Some of these plants can be harmful to people if consumed, while others can lead to allergic reactions like dermatitis. For instance, it could be deadly if a young infant chews and swallows one or two castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) seeds.

    Depending on the species, poisons may be found throughout various plant parts or may be concentrated in one part. That is why it is possible to eat the harmless petioles of rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) but not the poisonous leaf blades. 

    kid and plants

    Similarly, some plant components that are lethal when raw or unripe become edible when cooked or ripened. For instance, cooking removes the toxicity present in some varieties of cassava roots (Manihot).

    Taro leaves (Elephant ear leaves) are yet another example. Uncooked taro leaves are poisonous and unsafe for humans to eat. The reason is that oxalate is present in high concentrations in taro leaves. 

    Cooking can deactivate the harmful oxalates in these leaves; therefore, cooking taro leaves before eating is necessary to reap the health benefits of the elephant ear plant.

    kids harvesting food

    What to do regarding the poisonous plants?

    The best practice may not always be to completely remove dangerous plants from your play area due to the complexity of these plants. Most plant poisons can act only if ingested, and the severity of the reaction is based on the amount consumed.

    For example, apple (Malus) seeds are among poisonous seeds, but the child would have to eat a large number of apple seeds to fall seriously ill. It would be an extreme reaction to keep children away from apples to protect them from these toxic seeds. 

    If adequate care is used while choosing plant species and placing them in children’s outdoor play areas, the real risk of children being hurt by outdoor plants can be minimized.

    The easiest way to handle this issue is to become familiar with poisonous plants for kids and take precautions. You can quickly identify some of the more popular plants that contain poisons by checking the list of poisonous plants for children, which is in the last section of this article.

    teach kids about poisonous plants

    Teaching kids about poisonous plants 

    In addition to increasing your knowledge about poisonous plants for children, you should consider the following factors to make sure you are keeping kids safe in play areas;

    Age of children

    When choosing and placing plants, keep in mind the age of the children using the space; since infants and toddlers are more prone to put plant parts in their mouths if given a chance. More caution needs to be exercised when it comes to dangerous plants in locations where these age groups gather.

    Keep hazardous plants out of the reach of children this age, especially those with deadly fruits and those that can cause dermatitis. Plants having tiny seeds or berries that young toddlers could ingest are also a cause for concern.

    safe and poisonous plants for children

    Teaching at schools

    Children will come into contact with dangerous plants at some point during their childhood. They are more likely to expose themselves to those dangers if they are not aware of what those plants look like or the risks they entail.

    Schoolyards and other supervised environments provide opportunities for teaching children about poisonous plants. You can purposely include different types of common poisonous plants in your planting design to support such educational opportunities. You can label or group these plants together depending on your chosen species. 

    children gardening

    Supervision and prevention

    The most effective prevention strategy is to teach kids not to eat any plant or plant component they cannot clearly identify as wholesome, healthy food. Selected plantings of edible species can help children identify plants that are good to eat so that they can avoid all others.

    Supervisory staff should also be aware of poisonous plants in the play area and keep small children away from them. The moment a poisonous herb is consumed, a doctor should be consulted. For such cases, you should keep the phone numbers of your doctor and your local or regional poison control center next to your phone.

    child and dangerous plant


    Pesticides and children

    Children can also be at risk from non-poisonous plants. If a plant has been exposed to pesticides, it can become poisonous for children and animals. Each year, exposure to pesticides causes far more pediatric illnesses than ingestion of naturally occurring plant toxins. All plants in your play area, even edible species, could become poisoned due to improper weed and pest management techniques.

    You should use organic weed and pest management techniques wherever possible. These can include choosing plant species resistant to pests and diseases, using mechanical controls like forceful jets of water to wash bugs away physically, removing plant debris that attracts pests, or just plain old-fashioned hand weeding.

    Other non-chemical pest control options include releasing or promoting beneficial insects and using botanical pesticides like natural pyrethrins.

    Note: If you have to use chemical preparations, proceed cautiously. Follow the instructions on the label precisely and keep kids out of the area until it is entirely safe. Chemical pesticides can harm your plants and provide a threat to the environment if handled improperly. 

    kids in farm

    List of poisonous plants for children

    The list below is divided into three parts: 1) highly toxic plants, 2) Moderately toxic plants, and 3) slightly toxic plants. 

    Highly toxic plants are those species that are known to cause severe illness or (in extreme cases) death when ingested.

    Moderately toxic plants include those species that can cause illness when ingested or severe contact dermatitis.

    Slightly toxic plants are species that cause mild illness or contact dermatitis.

    Note: keep in mind that the severity of a reaction mostly depends on the amount of plant material consumed and the condition and tolerances of the person affected. Young children are likely to have a more pronounced response to plant toxins than adults as they are smaller in size. 

    The plants in this list are some of the more prevalent poisonous plant species. It is not, however, a comprehensive list. In North America, there are over 700 plants with a reputation for being lethal to both humans and animals.

    The botanical names of these plants are mentioned to prevent any potential confusion with other plant species. You can find more details at your neighborhood poison control center or agricultural extension service office. 

    Highly poisonous plants for children

    Botanical Name Common Name Toxic Parts
    Abrus precatorius Rosary pea seeds
    Acokanthera spp.(carissa spectabilis) Poison bush, Wintersweet fruit and plant
    Aconitum napellus Monkshood all parts
    Alocasia macrorrhiza Taro all parts
    Atropa belladonna Belladonna all parts
    Conium maculatum Hemlock all parts
    Convallaria majalis Lily of the valley all parts
    Daphne spp Daphne berries, bark
    Datura spp Angel's trumpet nectar, seeds
    Delphinium spp Larkspur all parts
    Dieffenbachia spp Dumb cane berries
    Duranta repens Golden-dewdrop berries
    Euphorbia pulcherrima poinsettia sap
    Euphorbia spp. Spurges sap
    Gloriosa superba Glory lily all parts, esp, root
    Ilex aquifolium English holly fruits and leaves
    Ilex opaca American holly fruits and leaves
    Jatropha spp Coral plant, Barbados nut, Physic nut seeds
    Kalmia spp Laurels all parts
    Laburnum anagyroides Golden-chain tree all parts
    Lantana spp Lantana green fruits
    Ligustrum spp privet fruit
    Lobelia cardinalis Cardinal flower all parts
    Malus spp apple leaves, seeds in large amount
    Melia azedarach Bead tree, Chinaberry fruit, leaf, bark and flowers
    Nerium oleander oleander all parts
    Nicotiana glauca Tree tabacco all parts. esp. leaves
    Prunus spp Apricot, peach, bitter almond kernel, flower, leaf, bark
    Rheum rhabarbarum Rhubarb leaf blade
    Rhododendron spp. rhododendrons, Azaleas leaf
    Ricinus communis Caster bean plant seeds
    Solanum dulcamara Nightshade all parts
    Solanum nigrum Nightshade green fruit
    Solanum psedocapsicum Jerusalem cherry berries
    Solanum sodomeum Apple of sodom fruit
    Solanum tuberosum potato green skin
    Tabernaemontana divaricata crape jasmine all parts
    Taxus spp. Yews all parts, esp, seed in pod
    Thevetia Peruviana Yellow oleander all parts, esp, seed in kernel
    Wisteria spp. Wisteria seeds and pods
    Zantedeschia aethiopica Arum lily, Calla lily all parts, esp. juice of leaves & stem

    Moderately Toxic plants for Kids

    Botanical Name Common Name Toxic Parts
    Aesculus spp. Buckeye, Horse chestnut all parts
    Aleurites fordii Tung-oil tree fruit kernels
    Allamanda spp. Allamanda fruit
    Amaryllis belladonna Lily, Belladonna bulb
    Anemone spp. Windflower all parts
    Aquilegia spp. Columbine seeds
    Arum italicum Italian arum sap, esp. berries
    Arum maculatum Lord and ladies sap
    Asclepias fruticosa Swan plant pods
    Caladium spp. Caladium all parts
    Castanospermum australe Black bean, Moreton bay chestnut seeds
    Celastrus spp. Bittersweet all parts
    Cestrum spp. Day-blooming cestrum, Jessamine all parts, esp. fruit
    Chrysanthemum morifolium Florist's Chrysanthemum all parts
    Colocasia spp. Elephant's ear root
    Colocasia esculenta Taro root root
    Cotoneaster spp. Cotoneaster fruits and flowers
    Crataegus spp Hawthorn fruit
    Cydonia oblonga Quince seeds, fresh leaves
    Digitalis purpurea Foxglove all parts
    Eriobotrya japonica Loquat seeds
    Euonymus europaeus European spindle tree all parts, esp. fruit and seeds
    Gelsemium sempervirens Yellow jessamine all parts
    Hedera Helix English ivy all parts, esp. berries
    Hura crepitans Sandbox tree all parts
    Hyacinthus orientalis Hyacinth all parts, esp. bulb
    Hydrangea spp. Hydrangea flowers
    Iris germanica Flag, Fleur-de-lis all parts
    LUpinus spp. Lupine seed pods
    Manihot esculenta Cassava raw roots
    Moraea spp. iris, Butterfly all parts
    Narcissus jonquilla Jonquil sap and bulb
    Narcissus pseudonarcissus Daffodil sap and bulb
    Nerine spp. spider lily bulb
    Ornithogalum arabicum star of Bethlehem bulb or flower spike
    Ornithogalum thyrsoides Chincherinchee bulb or flower spike
    Philodendron spp. Philodendron spp. all parts
    Physalis alkekengi Ground cherry unripe fruit
    Physalis ixocarpa Tomatillo, Chinese lantern unripe fruit
    Plumeria spp. Frangipani sap
    Poinciana gilliesii Bird of paradise plant unripe seed pod
    Prunus cerasus Pie cherry, Sour cherry kernels
    Prunus laurocerasus Laurel cherry bruised leaves
    Pyrus communis pear seeds
    Rhamnus spp. Buckthorn, Cascara sagrada fruit
    Robinia pseudoacacia Black locust all parts
    Solandra spp. Golden chalice, Gold cup sap, leaves, flowers
    Solanum aviculare Kangaroo apple green fruit
    Schinus molle pepper tree fruit
    Schinus terebinthifolius Brazilian pepper tree fruit, large amounts
    Hyacinthoides non-scripta English bluebell all parts
    Scilla peruviana Cuban lily, Hyacinth of peru all parts

    Slightly Poisonous plants for Children

    Botanical Name Common Name Toxic Parts
    Achillea millefolium Milfoil, Common yarrow all parts
    Agapanthus africanus African blue lily sap
    Artemisia abinthium Common wormwood all parts
    Chrysanthemum coccineum Pyrethrum all parts
    Chrysanthemum parthenium Feverfew all parts
    Clematis spp. Traveller's joy all parts
    Colchicum autumnale Autumn crocus flowers
    Cosmos bipinnatus Cosmos all parts
    Cotinus coggygria Smoke tree sap
    Cycas spp. Zamia palm seeds, fresh or improperly prepared
    Dicentra spectabilis Bleeding heart all parts
    Echium lycopsis paterson's curse all parts
    Helenium autumnale Sneezeweed all parts
    Helianthus annuus Sunflower all parts
    Monstera deliciosa Fruit salad, swiss cheese plant ripe fruit
    Primula obconica Primula all parts
    Ranunculus spp. Buttercups all parts
    Rhus radicans Poison ivy all parts
    Rhus vernix poison sumac all parts
    Rudbeckia hirta Black-eyed Susan all parts
    Senecio cineraria Dusty miller all parts
    Tanacetum vulgare Common tansy all parts
    Urtica spp. Stinging nettle all parts


    Moore, Robin C. Plants for Play. A Plant Selection Guide for Children’s Outdoor Environments, 1993. https://doi.org/10.1604/9780944661185.

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