Don't Eat That! 6 Poisonous Plants to Avoid This Holiday Season

Don't Eat That! 6 Poisonous Plants to Avoid This Holiday Season

November 08, 2013
by Michael Barber
Don't Eat That! 6 Poisonous Plants to Avoid This Holiday Season

We often refer to November, and December as the "holiday season." With this season comes gifts of plants and decorating with flora and fauna. As pretty as some of these plants are, if eaten, they can also cause some health issues. Here are six poisonous plants to avoid.


While many think these beautiful plants can cause severe harm and even death, that isn't the case. According to the Mayo Clinic what they can do is irritate the skin causing a rash if you come in contact with the sap. If you do get sap on your skin, wash the area with soap and water and use a cold compress to stop itching.

If leaves are eaten, only mild nausea or stomach upset occurs. Still, both of these don't sound like fun so stay away from their sap and don't eat the leaves. In addition, the Mayo Clinic says people with latex allergies may experience an allergic reaction to poinsettias and may need to find an urgent care center to receive medical treatment.


The "kissing" Christmas plant is part of the Phoradendron species and contains phoratoxin. If eaten you may experience nausea, blurred vision, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and a change in blood pressure. It's not just those pretty green leaves that are poisonous, the berries are as well.'s Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine says if your child eats one to two berries, it's probably okay, but even one berry is dangerous to pets. She recommends seeking out retail clinics offering emergency care if your child ingests any part of mistletoe.

Holly Berries

Holly berries are also tempting to small children and often used as decorations during the holiday season. Again, while ingesting one or two berries may not cause any problems, eating a handful may cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and stomach pains.

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Sumac

All of these plants will cause a skin rash says WebMD. The site also offers a great photo on how to identify each plant. Symptoms of the skin rash, known as contact dermatitis can become red, itchy, and may appear as red lines or streaks or fluid-filled bumps. Hives are also a common symptom of coming in contact with these poisonous plants.

Treatment may depend on how your body reacts to these plants. If you're severely allergic and the rash spreads quickly and is extremely painful or itchy, find a walk-in clinic near you as a physician may prescribe corticosteroid pills to rid your body of extreme dermatitis. For most, however, antihistamines, calamine lotion, and cool compresses will reduce symptoms.  


The oleander is poisonous to both humans and animals. If a child eats just one oleander leaf, it can be fatal. For adults, just one leaf produces vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, dizziness, tiredness, and sometimes an irregular heartbeat.

Anyone that ingests any part of an oleander should head to the closest urgent care center where vomiting is induced. Sometimes pumping the stomach is necessary as well as ingesting charcoal to absorb the poison.

Lilly-of-the-Valley says this flowered plant is "entirely poisonous from the tips of their tiny bell-shaped white flowers to the water where they are placed." If eaten, expect pain in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and cramping. Like the oleander, treatment includes ingesting charcoal or pumping the stomach.

Avoiding these poisonous plants (flowers and berries) this season is a wise thing to do.