Most plant poisonings in New Zealand occur when young children eat parts of poisonous plants growing in their local environment, such as the garden or the grounds of their kindergarten or school. Many commonly grown plants like kōwhai, rhododendron, laburnum, ivy, daphne and arum lily are poisonous, but older children and adults are unlikely to eat the berries or leaves. However, some young children will try to eat anything. It is important that parents learn to identify local plant dangers, and keep young children away from them.
The three common garden plants pictured here are poisonous to some extent. Agapanthus leaves have a sticky sap that irritates skin and eyes. All parts of climbing ivy are poisonous if eaten, and some people experience skin irritiation if they touch the plant. All parts of flowering azalea (Rhododendron) are poisonous, including its attractive flowers and honey made from its nectar.
In this sound clip reporter Nona Pelletier discusses some of the ways to prevent children from being poisoned by plants.
Sound file from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero. Any re-use of this audio is a breach of copyright. To request a copy of the recording, contact Sound Archives Ngā Taonga Kōrero (GMNZ – botany – poisonous plants in NZ gardens/Reference number C910531A).
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Photograph by Alastair McLean
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