This time of year, many people start looking for holiday decorating ideas that are more natural and eco-friendly. Using plants from the garden or forest to decorate your home provides a natural holiday feeling (and fragrance) that can’t be beat. Unfortunately, some popular holiday plants that look great adorning your mantle or staircase can actually be quite toxic to young children and pets.
It’s important to learn more about the plants that can be poisonous to both people and pets so that you can make sure to place them out of reach of little fingers and paws, or avoid bringing them into your home altogether.
Up First – Holly Berries…
Holly Berries (Ilex species) are an iconic holiday decoration (it even has it’s own carol!) and is popular for its dark green leaves and bright red berries. However, eating these can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis and stupor. While the effects are likely to be mild, since the berries are quite bitter and usually aren’t eaten in large quantities, a sick child or pet could be an unpleasant holiday interruption. Keep them high up on mantles or bookshelves to avoid incident.
Next up – Mistletoe…
Image Credit: Flickr – comedynose
Mistletoe (Phoradendron species) is a favorite decoration for encouraging a kiss between sweethearts during the holidays. Few are aware that eating just a few berries can result in vomiting, diarrhea and moderate stomach and intestinal pain. In severe cases there may be labored breathing, dramatically lowered blood pressure, and heart failure. Make sure you keep the mistletoe hanging high and out of the reach of kids or pets.
Image Credit: Flickr – darwinbell
Next up – Ivy Foliage…
Ivy Foliage (Hedera helix) is also a beloved holiday green because it looks lovely when mixed in with fir boughs and holly. However, research has shown that ivy berries contain saponins which can cause a burning sensation in the throat and gastronomical upset with vomiting and diarrhea. If you’re already using a non-toxic green to spruce up your mantle, it might be better to leave this one outside
Image Credit: Flickr – joost-ijmuiden
Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are a staple of holiday decorating, but for years, people have been warned that so much as a nibble of the leaves or flower could be lethally poisonous. Care2′s Melissa Breyer has gathered together a bunch of information to bust this myth, but you should still be careful when decorating with these bright red plants. The Mayo Clinic reports that “contact with the sap of a poinsettia plant may cause a mild, itchy rash. If this happens, wash the affected area with soap and water and apply a cool compress to ease itching.” This type of reaction is more likely with a person with a latex allergy.
Image Credit: Flickr – tboard