Did you know the Sago Palm is toxic to pets?

676138.jpg I just received a new edition of my ASPCA newsletter and one article in particular caught my eye. It was about the increased incidence of pets being poisoned by the Sago Palm. This plant can also be quite toxic to young children.

The Sago Palm is common in warm climates, but it’s become more popular in Northern homes as a houseplant. The plant is native to Southern Japan. It’s an attractive plant with dark green leaves and a hairy trunk.

Since 2003, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has seen an increase in cases of Sago palm and Cycad poisonings by more than 200 percent. APCC data also reveals that 50 percent to 75 percent of those cases resulted in fatalities.

sago-palm.jpg A chemical in the plant called cycasin is toxic and often causes permanent liver damage as well as neurological damage if enough of the poison is absorbed by the body. The seeds are the most poisonous part of the plant, although all parts of this plant are toxic, and the effects on humans are seizures, coma and death. Of course the seeds are an attractive reddish color so children and possible curious pets might be drawn to the plant.

Clinical signs of toxic poisoning are vomiting, melena (blood in stool), Jaundice, increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, bruising and later liver damage, liver failure and death.

If you have young children or pets in your home and you’d like to check to see if your house or garden plants are toxic you can take a look at this list of Toxic Plants. There’s also a list of non-toxic plants that you might also want to look at if you are planning on adding more plants to your collection.






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Your home and toxic houseplants

Have you ever thought about, or wondered as to how many house plants that are currently in your home would be unsafe if eaten by a child, pet or even an adult? Not that adults are going around eating leaves off houseplants- but either way, some of the plants we have in our home are toxic and often the plant owner doesn’t realize just how dangerous they could be.

I’ve compiled a list of plants that have toxic properties. I’m not advocating removing them from your home- just that you be aware of which plants are toxic and what kinds of symptoms they can cause. Any plants in your home that are known to be toxic should be placed well out of reach of small children or house pets.

Members of the Araceae family

These plants contain needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate that penetrate and irritate tissues of the mouth and throat. Chemicals in their sap, such as asparagine, a protein, also can cause inflammation of mucous membranes. Plants in this family include dieffenbachia, philodendron, caladium, and elephant’s ear. Symptoms of poisoning from dieffenbachia are intense burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, and lips. Although rare, if the reaction is severe enough, the swelling can seal off the breathing passages. Philodendron, caladium, and elephant’s ear produce the same types of symptoms when ingested. If a piece of the corm, the underground stem, is eaten, symptoms are a fiery burning of the mouth and throat. Jack-in-the-pulpit is a native member to watch in this family.

Members of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge) family

Most members of the spurge family have a milky sap this is acrid and toxic. This sap can cause dermatitis in some people and poisoning if eaten by someone who is allergic to the chemicals in the sap. Members of this family include the crown-of-thorns, the pencil tree also know as the milk bush, poinsettia, and snow-on-the-mountain. Snow-on-the-mountain can cause blisters and skin burns.

It is appropriate to note here the debate about the poinsettia. The original warnings on this plant were from a report in 1919 on a child who died in Hawaii where poinsettia is used as an outdoor ornamental. However, laboratory tests have NOT confirmed the toxicity of the plant when ingested. Poison control centers receive many reports each year of ingestion of poinsettia, but only occasional abdominal pain and nausea have been documented.

Members of the Solanaceae family

These plants contain solanine, a poisonous glycoalkaloid, that is extremely toxic even in small amounts. Jerusalem cherry is an ornamental in this family. Eating its berries cause symptoms ranging from headaches and stomach pains to shock and paralysis of the circulatory and respiratory systems. However, not all members of the Solanaceae family are toxic; for example, tomatoes and peppers.

Now that you are aware of possible dangers with certain houseplants, you can take steps to ensure the safety of others around these lovely plants. Try using hanging baskets, high shelves, or window boxes to keep plants away from children. You don’t need to stop displaying the plants mentioned above, just do so carefully.

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