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6 November 2010

Be safe and be informed about possible poisonous plants in your garden

As you know, I have written several blog posts about a wide variety of plants which grow here in Tunis.  My main objectives for doing this were to share my interests in horticulture and my limited knowledge in amateur gardening.  Another reason why I have chosen to write about the subject of plants is that I wanted to inform you about whether a certain plant is poisonous or not.  Most people tend to buy plants because they find them attractive or else they buy plants because they have a bare patch in their garden and they try to fill that particular spot.  Quite often, it does not immediately cross our minds to ask at the gardening center whether a plant is poisonous either to us or to our pets. 

Over the past eight and a half years of living here in Tunis, I have come across so many friends who have small children and I have observed that whilst their cleaning products such as bleach and prescribed medications are locked away in a special child-proof cupboard and they make a point of mentioning special gates fitted at the top of a staircase so that their children do not fall down the stairs and if they have a swimming pool they are careful to have a special child safety barrier all the way around the pool to stop children falling in.  However, quite often it is possible to see several species of beautiful but highly poisonous plants growing in their garden all within easy reach of their children.  Plants such as Thevetia Peruviana, Croton Codiaeum Variegatum, Datura Stramonium, Campsis Radicans, Pittosporum Tobira, Nerium Oleander and Lantana.  So, this blog post is a plea really, to say if you have small children do not neglect the garden and try and find out if the plants you have are child friendly.  Young children are often attracted to plants and they go through an age when rather worryingly they pop most things into their mouths.  I know, because when I was about two years old, I used to secretly eat a very pretty plant that was growing in a container on our balcony in Southern Turkey.  Luckily for me, it was  not poisonous and did not do me any harm.  I carried out an internet search on it recently and I discovered that the plant which I use to "graze" on as a toddler was called "Begonia".  However, I do recall my mother telling me when I was about four or five that a boy I knew had to have his stomach pumped as he had eaten a poisonous plant.  By this time, I had grown out of munching Begonias and I was too young to think retrospectively and to wander whether the plant that I used to eat on the balcony could have done me any harm.  

 Here is a good website which gives a list of non-poisonous and poisonous plants.  However, as they point out in their website their list is neither  definitive and nor is it complete and I would say that the same goes for the list of poisonous plants which I have provided so far in my blog.  http://www.poison.org/prevent/plants.asp
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