1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Plant dangers in the garden and countryside

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by Gail_68, Jan 14, 2018.

  1. Gail_68

    Gail_68 Beauty blooms in the garden as well as the heart.

    Nov 17, 2017
    West Midlands_UK
    Most plants in the UK are harmless but some sting, scratch or are poisonous.

    Keep your family safe with this guide to common plant hazards.

    Stinging nettles

    Nettle leaves (pictured left) are covered in tiny, needle-like hairs. When you brush against a nettle, the hairs break off, penetrate your skin and sting you, producing the familiar burning sensation, itch and rash.

    The dock leaf (pictured right) is an effective natural remedy for nettle rash. The dock leaf contains chemicals that when rubbed over the sting, neutralise it and cool the skin down.

    What to do: If you get stung by a nettle, look out for a dock leaf to rub on the rash. Dock leaves usually grow close to nettles. It's also a good idea to teach toddlers what stinging nettles look like so they can avoid them.

    Giant hogweed

    Giant hogweed can grow up to five metres tall, often along footpaths and riverbanks. If the sap of the plant comes into contact with your skin, it can cause severe, painful burns and make your skin sensitive to strong sunlight.

    What to do: If you touch a giant hogweed, cover the affected area and wash it with soap and water. The blisters heal very slowly and can develop into phytophotodermatitis, a type of skin rash which flares up in sunlight. If you feel unwell after contact with giant hogweed, speak to your doctor.

    Thorny plants

    Thorns, needles or spines from plants such as roses, holly, blackberry bushes and brambles can cause infections or other problems if they become implanted in your skin.

    What to do: Remove thorns with tweezers – sometimes this is easier after soaking the area in warm water for a few minutes. Avoid injuries by teaching children how to check for plants with spiny leaves or thorns and always wear gardening gloves when handling thorny plants.

    Poisonous plants

    Most British plants are harmless, but some are poisonous, such as:

    • the yew
    • daffodil bulbs
    • chrysanthemums
    • hemlock water dropwort
    • deadly nightshade
    • snowdrops
    • mistletoe
    Their leaves, berries, flowers, fruit, sap or bulbs can poison you, either by making you ill after eating them or giving you a skin rash after touching them.

    Poison ivy

    Poison ivy (pictured left), which causes a painful and itchy, blistery rash on your skin when touched, only grows in North America.

    English ivy (pictured right) – which is the type that you see climbing walls and in hanging baskets and window boxes – isn't harmful. You should still be careful when handling it if you have sensitive skin as its sap can be irritating.

    Parsnip plant

    The parsnip plant (Pastinaca sativa) grows in the wild and is cultivated in gardens and allotments.

    Contact with the plant can make your skin very sensitive to light leading in some cases to burning, blisters and a painful rash.

    The problem seems to be the plant's sap which contains chemicals called furoumarins. These chemicals are absorbed by the skin and can then react with sunlight to cause skin inflammation.

    What to do: Watch out for wild parsnip in roadside ditches and along railway tracks. If you develop skin irritation or blisters after touching parsnip plants, speak to your doctor.

    The Royal Horticultural Society has advice on how to keep your family safe from potentially harmful garden plants
    • Like Like x 3
    • NigelJ

      NigelJ Total Gardener

      Jan 31, 2012
      Mad Scientist
      Paignton Devon
      • Agree Agree x 1
      • HarryS

        HarryS Eternally Optimistic Gardener

        Aug 28, 2010
        Blimey , this list and the link list above make you frightened to go out of the door !
        I think it was shown on Pointless a week or so ago , that the pretty Buttercup is toxic. So if you are planning on eating a bowl of them for your breakfast............

        A man in Bevay, France drank a glass of juice made from buttercups. He suffered severe colic after four hours and was dead the next day.

        A lady who applied the bruised plant to her chest, based on the premise that use of an irritant would counter an existing irritation, became ill-humoured, fretful and cross.

        A sailor, who inhaled the fumes of the burning plant, suffered epilepsy for the first time in his life. Two weeks later, he suffered a further attack which led to his death.
        • Informative Informative x 1

        Share This Page