Common Poisonous Garden Plants

by Bill Brandt

Gardeners need to protect themselves when pruning some common garden plants. The sap from some succulents can be dangerous for your eyes and skin, like the fire stick or pencil plant, which is in the Euphorbia family and is pictured above. The sap from this plant is classified as a carcinogen and causes a film like latex and if left on skin becomes blisters in 24 hours. Scrub it off your skin with soap and water immediately. If you rub your eye after touching the sap, it can cause serious eye problems. If pruning euphorbia, wear safety goggles that wrap around on top and sides.

Poinsettia is also in the euphorbia family and can make you and your dog sick. The sap from the Agave Century Plant and other agave plants are also toxic with oxalate crystals in its leaves, which can cause extreme irritation. 

Seeds from peaches, apricots, plums, and bitter almonds contain cyanide the leaves from these trees can also be poisonous. The sap from a fig tree is an irritant to the skin, as well as stinging nettle, poison oak and ivy, and sumac. You can do a little patch test on your skin to see if you are allergic to different plants.. 

When you are pruning any leaves or stalks on banana trees or harvesting the fruit, wear protective goggles as the sap it leaks is an eye irritant. Also the sap will stain your hands and ruin your clothes; so wear gloves and old work clothes when working with banana trees. This article doesn’t cover all poisonous plants! You need to be aware that a little check when you start  growing or handling a new plant is advisable. Also, it is a good idea to wear protective goggles, gloves, long sleeved shirts, and long pants when cutting or pruning any tree or plant.

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