Digital (Digitalis Purpurea)
This beautiful plant contains digitoxin, an extremely potent cardioactive glycoside, capable of causing violent arrhythmias and, in large doses, leading to death. In an average adult it is sufficient to ingest 300 g of leaves. Small amounts have opposite effects, regularizing the contractions of the heart (and is in fact the active ingredient of many specific medicines).
This shrub is widespread everywhere in our peninsula, where it also grows spontaneously. In the garden of the house it must be carefully monitored because all parts contain oleandrin, a molecule that interferes with the activity of the muscles and therefore also of the heart. Let’s remember when we prune or handle the leaves. Seeds are very dangerous: children may swallow them.
Its beautiful blue flowers, produced in autumn, should not fool us: it is one of the most poisonous plants ever. Aconitine acts on the peripheral and central nervous system and the deadly dose is only 1 mg. Particular care must also be taken when handling it, as even contact can cause dermatitis and annoying symptoms, especially in children.
Lily of the Valley
This highly perfumed flower is dangerous because some of the compounds it contains have important effects on the heart, causing bradycardia, vomiting and in more serious cases, death. We pay particular attention to the fruits, visible on the ground in autumn: being round and red they can easily be mistaken for candies.
It is very popular for its large red lobed leaves, but should be avoided in the presence of children. All parts, but in particular the seeds, contain ricinoleic acid and ricin, both extremely toxic, causing diarrhoea and intoxications.
This plant grows spontaneously on the edge of the woods, but in mountain areas it is not difficult to see it also in the courtyards. Leaves and roots contain many alkaloids: the most famous are atropine and scopolamine which act on the nervous system and consequently on the muscles.
This datura (like others used for ornamental purposes) has, in its leaves, a large amount of alkaloids such as scopolamine and atropine, with narcotic, sedative and hallucinogenic effects. However, the toxic dose is very low and ingestion almost always causes intoxication and, in the most serious cases, death linked to paralysis of respiratory muscles.
Unmissable in the mixed borders, to which they give impetus and verticality, they are, however, a serious danger in case of ingestion of young leaves and seeds. The alkaloids they contain cause agitation, salivation, cardiac arrhythmias, paralysis and convulsions.
A beautiful tree, often used alone or to create fine hedges. All its parts, leaves, berries and bark are toxic: ingestion can lead to tremors, heart problems and digestive system. In the most serious cases there is a cardiovascular arrest.
Poisonous plants to avoid in a garden with children: Rhododendron ponticum
Very common in the mountains and highlands, it contains, in its leaves and pollen, the graianotoxin, an alkaloid capable of causing poisoning, even in small doses. It is not only the plant that is dangerous: already in ancient times honey produced in those areas was discarded because it was considered poisonous.
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