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Explanation of toxicity levels
Keep in mind toxicity levels can vary based on your level of contact with a plant. For example, a plant like black henbane is fatal even in low doses, whereas some plants you need to consume a large amount to experience side effects.
Here is a breakdown of the four levels:
- Major toxicity: These plants may cause serious illness or death.
- Minor toxicity: Ingestion may cause minor illnesses such as vomiting or diarrhea.
- Oxalates: The juice or sap of these plants contains oxalate crystals, which can cause skin irritations or more serious ailments like throat swelling, breathing difficulties, and stomach pain.
- Dermatitis: These plants may cause a skin rash or irritation.
With all four toxicity levels, it’s advised that you contact the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222) or your doctor.
If you notice that some common fruits are on the list, there’s no need to rush to toss out your last grocery run. Many toxic parts of plants such as cherries, apricots and peaches aren’t the fruits themselves, but other parts like the stem, leaves and seeds. These parts we never consider eating, so we never come in contact with them.
Special care for children and pets
Most plants we would never think to eat or touch, but for small children and pets that are unaware of harmful side effects, it’s recommended you keep them out of arm’s reach. For example, a peace lily is a very popular indoor plant given its ability to clean the air in your home. But it’s also highly toxic for cats and dogs, so try to keep the plant on a high shelf.