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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

* This is the Veterinary Version. *

Houseplants and Ornamentals

By Cecil F. Brownie, DVM, PhD, DABVT, DABFE, DABFM, FACFEI, Emeritus Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University

Plants are an important part of the decor of homes; pets having access to these plants often chew on or ingest them, with toxicity a possible outcome (see Table: Poisonous Houseplants and Ornamentals a). Inquiries to poison control centers on plants ingested by children <5 yr old are estimated at 5%–10% of all inquiries. Similar estimates (although not documented) could be made for pets.

Little research has been done on the toxicity of houseplants. Most are hybrids, and selecting for growth outside their natural environment could affect their degree of toxicity. Age of the pet, boredom, and changes in the surroundings are factors that may affect the incidence of poisoning. Puppies and kittens are very inquisitive, and mouth or chew almost any and everything. Pets (especially single household pets) of all ages may become bored or restless if left alone or confined for too long at any one time, and chewing on objects for relief is common. Pets of all ages also explore changes in their environment (eg, pets commonly chew the leaves or ripe berries of potentially poisonous plants placed in the home during holidays).

Poisonous Houseplants and Ornamentals a

Scientific Name (Family)

Common Name

Important Characteristics

Comments and Toxic Principles and Effects

Treatment

Abrus precatorius (Fabaceae)

Rosary pea, Precatory bean, Prayer beads, Crab’s eye

Climbing/twining vine on other objects as substratum. Compound leaves/light sensitive, pale reddish purple flowers, pea-shaped pods with 3–5 red seeds with black spots. Jewelry handicrafts as souvenir gifts in homes.

Abrin, a plant lectin (taxalbumin) related to ricin in hard seed coat, released when chewed on or otherwise broken. Toxin inhibits celluar protein synthesis.

Ingested whole intact seeds nontoxic in most cases. GI clinical signs; assess dehydration and electrolyte status. Electrolyte replacement therapy in severe cases.

Adenium obesum (Apocynaceae)

Desert rose, Mock azalea, Desert azalea

Succulent shrubs or small trees. Perennials, milky viscous sap with fleshy swollen stems. Simple, fleshy to leathery, lanceolate, dark leaves. Showy flower clusters—red petals with pink or white centers at tip of branch. Fruits—follicles with many seeds. Houseplant grown outside in dry, hot locations.

Cardioactive steroids and cardiac glycosides throughout entire plant. Na+/K+ ATPase inhibition, increased intracellular Ca2+ leading to myocardial excitation, bradycardia, ventricular tachycardia/fibrillation and heart block, hyperkalemia, abdominal distress, vomiting, anorexia, and inactivity.

Symptomatic

Agapanthus orientalis (Liliaceae)

African blue lily, Blue African lily

Grows to a height of ~2 ft in large containers. Perennial herbs with simple, heart-shaped, thin, highlighted veins, variegated leaves; yellow-green spathe; grown from rhizomes.

Unknown toxin(s) but thought to be a sticky, acrid, irritant latex rather than allergens. Calcium oxalate crystals and unknowns found in all parts, especially rhizomes. Ingestion causes immediate intense pain, local irritation to mucous membranes, excess salivation, swollen tongue and pharynx, diarrhea, and dyspnea. Pets’ access to plant associated with rhizomes brought indoors for winter storage.

Symptomatic

Agave americana (Agavaceae)

Century plant, American aloe

Clumps of thick, long strap-shaped blue/green leaves with hook (margin) and pointed spines (tip). Central flower stalk with small tubular flowers in clusters.

Sap contains calcium oxalate crystals; saponins and acrid volatile oil in leaves and seeds. On ingestion, causes dermal and oral mucosal irritation and edema.

Symptomatic

Aglaonema modestum (Araceae)

Chinese evergreen, Painted drop tongue

Central stem with solid medium green or splotched gray/green leaves; small greenish flowers.

The entire plant contains calcium oxalate crystals. On ingestion, causes oral mucosal irritation and edema.

Symptomatic

Allamanda cathartica (Apocynaceae)

Allamanda, Yellow allamanda

Ornamental, sprawling, woody climbing shrub with large yellow flowers: opposite lance-shaped leaves: fruitless.

Contains plumericin, a GI irritant found in the bark, leaves, fruit, seeds, and sap.

Based on exposure dose (abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance). Symptomatic therapy (rehydration and electrolyte replacement) in severe cases.

Alocasia spp (Araceae)

Elephant’s ear

Erect perennials from running rhizomes; single, long-stemmed, spear-headed varicolored leaves; prominent veins.

Water-insoluble calcium oxalate and possible proteinaceous toxins (raphides) in leaves, stems, and tubers.

Burning/painful/inflammatory reaction in mouth on ingestion. Analgesics and/or demulcents may be indicated. Systemic reaction to insoluble calcium oxalate not reported.

Aloe barbadensis (Liliaceae)

Barbados aloe, Curacao aloe

Succulent herb with cluster of narrow fleshy, spinous or coarsely serrated margin leaves, with hook spines on leaf margin. Dense spiked tubular yellow flowers at end of single stalk.

Contains anthraquinone glycosides (barbaloin, emodin) and chrysophanic acid in the latex of the leaves; higher concentrations in younger leaves. On ingestion, causes abrupt, severe diarrhea and/or hypoglycemia, with vomiting in some cases.

Symptomatic; control diarrhea and fluid loss.

Anthurium spp (Araceae)

Anthurium, Flamingo lily, Flamingo flower, Tail flower

Dark green or shiny broad heart-shaped, leathery leaves; a persistent white/scarlet/green spike; flowering, colorful berries.

Native to tropical America (common houseplant); raphides (water-insoluble calcium oxalate and proteinaceous toxins) in leaves and stems.

On ingestion, painful/burning sensation and inflammation of oral cavity. Remove from source; symptomatic treatment helpful, but clinical signs subside over time.

Arum spp (Araceae)

Italian arum, Black calla, Starch root, Cuckoopint

Stemless plant with large ovate leaves and tuberous roots; showy flower, purple enclosing a spike having red fruits; common houseplant of Europe/Near East origin.

Entire plant contains yet to be identified GI toxin (once thought to be calcium oxalate); dose-dependent mucous membrane irritation, ulcerations, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.

Analgesics for oral mucosal irritation and pain, rehydration, antiemetics, and electrolyte replacement as needed.

Aucuba japonica (Cornaceae)

Japanese aucuba, Japanese laurel, Spotted laurel

Cultivated as an ornamental and houseplant (large bush) with coarsely toothed, large opposite leaves; purple flowers in panicle at end of branches; scarlet berry, single seed fruit; matures in early winter.

Aucubin (acid labile glycoside) found throughout the plant (concentrated in fruit, which is colorful and to which pets are attracted). Large exposure dose required for toxicity (GI discomfort).

None in small dose exposure cases. Rehydration, antiemetics, and electrolyte replacement may be necessary in severely affected cases.

Brunfelsia pauciflora floribunda (Solanaceae)

Yesterday-today-and-tomorrow, Lady-of-the-night

Evergreen shrubs to small trees with alternate, undivided, toothless, thick, rather leathery, lustrous leaves. Winter-blooming; large showy sometimes fragrant flowers, clustered or solitary at the branch ends, with 5-lobed tubular calyx, 5 petals, and funnel-shaped corolla. Fruits berry-like capsules.

Alkaloid components (atropine, scopolamine, hyoscyamine) found in the flowers, leaves, bark, and roots. On ingestion, animals show tachycardia, dry mouth, dilated pupils, ataxia, tremors, depression, urinary retention, and sometimes coma (deep sedation). Not reported to cause death.

In severely depressed animals, stimulants (respiratory and cardiac), along with supportive therapy recommended.

Caladium spp (Araceae)

Caladium, Fancy leaf caladium, Angel wings

Perennial herbs with simple, heart-shaped, thin, highlighted veins, variegated leaves; yellow-green spathe; grown from rhizomes.

Calcium oxalate crystals and unknowns found in all parts, especially rhizomes. Ingestion causes immediate intense pain, local irritation to mucous membranes, excess salivation, swollen tongue and pharynx, diarrhea, and dyspnea. Pets’ access to plant associated with rhizomes brought indoors for winter storage.

Symptomatic

Cannabis sativa (Cannabaceae)

Mary Jane, Marijuana, Grass, Pot, Hashish, Indian hemp, Reefer, Weed

Annual herb, grown from seeds, ≥6 ft tall. Leaves opposite or alternate, palmately compound with 5–7 linear, coarsely dentate leaflets; small green flowers at tip (male) or along entire length (female) of branch; fruits achenes. Grown for its fiber; legally cultivated under federal license only in most states.

Leaves, stems, and flower buds of mature plants contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and related compounds. THC concentrations vary with plant variety (1%–6%), parts (female flowers have highest concentrations), processing (extracts have as much as 28%), sex, and growing conditions. Lethal dose for dogs >3 g/kg body wt. Pets’ exposure usually from accidental access to this plant being used for in-home treatment of cancer patient or for illegal (in most states) recreational uses by owner. Pets (dogs primarily) show ataxia, vomiting, mydriasis, prolonged depression, tachycardia or bradycardia, salivation, hyperexcitability, tremors, and hypothermia. Death results when vital CNS regulatory centers are severely depressed.

Remove animal from source. Effectiveness of emetics limited by antiemetic effect of THC. Oral tannic acid, activated charcoal, followed by saline cathartics have been recommended. Stimulants (cardiac and respiratory) along with supportive therapy essential in severely depressed animals. Recovery slow at best. See also Marijuana.

Capsicum annuum (Solanaceae)

Cherry pepper, Chili pepper, Ornamental pepper, Capsicum

Annual shrub; branched, erect stem; dark, glossy, ovate, entire margin leaves; white flowers. Fruits are shiny berries of various colors, shapes, sizes.

Capsaicinoids (capsaicin) in the mature fruits, solanine and scopoletin in foliage; irritating to the GI tract, with vomiting and diarrhea. Not likely to be lethal.

Symptomatic; irritation relief—cool water irrigation, topical or oral mineral or vegetable oil. Rarely topical anesthetics.

Catharanthus reseus (Apocynaceae)

Madagascar periwinkle, Bigleaf periwinkle, Vinca, Large periwinkle

Perennial herb with milky sap; erect stems with glossy green opposite leaves; solitary rose-pink to white flowers. Cultivated as an ornamental.

Vinca alkaloids (vincristine/vinblastine) throughout the plant inhibit microtubule formation. Toxic exposures lead to pharyngeal pain, GI signs (abdominal pain, severe diarrhea), dehydration, peripheral nerve damage, bone marrow suppression/depression, and cardiovascular damage.

Aggressive supportive and symptomatic therapy essential, with extended monitoring.

Chlorophytum spp (Liliaceae)

Spider plant, St. Bernard’s lily, Airplane plant

Rhizomatous herbs with leaves slightly glossy, succulent, narrow, strap-like, green—some with a broad, yellow, or white band down the middle; long, cream, hanging stems with small, white flowers developing into plantlets. Often grown in hanging baskets.

More commonly grown for its filtering ability. Pets (especially cats) reach these plants either by climbing or when plantlets fall from mature stems. Unknown toxin(s) found in leaves and plantlets. Vomiting, salivation, retching, and transient anorexia seen in cats within hours of ingestion. Deaths and diarrhea not reported.

Symptomatic

Colchicum autumnale (Liliaceae, Colchicaceae)

Autumn crocus, Crocus, Fall crocus, Meadow saffron, Wonder bulb

Popular house or yard plant, perennial herb, ovoid underground corm covered with brown membrane or scales. Leaves large, lanceolate, basal, ovate, smooth, ribbed, appear in spring and die back before flowering. Flowers tubular, solitary, pale purple or white appearing in fall; fruit a 3-celled ovoid capsule with numerous seeds.

Colchicine and related alkaloids found throughout plant. These alkaloids are heat stable and not affected by drying. Colchicine is used experimentally in genetic investigations, and medically in the treatment of gout in people. It is cumulative and slowly excreted. Milk of lactating animals is a major excretory pathway. Clinical signs include thirst, difficult swallowing, abdominal pain, profuse vomiting and diarrhea, weakness, and shock within hours of ingestion. Death from respiratory failure.

Prolonged course due to slow excretion of colchicine. Gastric lavage; supportive care for dehydration and electrolyte losses (fluid therapy); CNS, circulatory, and respiratory disturbances. Analgesics and atropine recommended for abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Convallaria majalis (Liliaceae)

Lily-of-the-valley, Conval lily, Mayflower

Herbaceous perennial from slender running rhizome; stem leafless, bearing a 1-sided raceme of nodding white, aromatic, bell-shaped flowers; leaves 2 or 3, basal to 1 ft long. Fruit a red berry but seldom formed.

Cardiac glycosides (convallarin, convallamarin, convallatoxin), irritant saponins found in leaves, flowers, rhizome, and water in which flowers have been kept. Variable latent period depending on dose. GI signs (vomiting, trembling, abdominal pain, diarrhea), progressive cardiac irregularities (irregular heart beats, AV block), and death. Hyperkalemia in acute cases. Gastroenteritis, petechial hemorrhages throughout.

Aimed at gut decontamination (gastric lavage) and at correcting bradycardia (atropine), conduction defects (phenytoin), and electrolyte imbalance such as hyperkalemia (IV electrolytes). Electrocardiographic and serum potassium monitoring necessary.

Cyclamen spp (Primulaceae)

Cyclamen, Snowbread, Shooting star

Herbaceous plants, grown from rhizomes or tubers. Petioled, heart-shaped, deep green intermixed with lighter green coloration (same leaf), serrated leaves; stems upright, with a terminal pink or white butterfly-like flower.

Triterpinoid saponins found in tuberous rhizomes cause GI irritation, thereby increasing systemic absorption and severe toxicity. Anorexia, diarrhea, convulsions, and paralysis are observed clinical signs. Pets have greater access to these plants over winter months (both pets and plants are indoors).

Symptomatic

Dieffenbachia spp (Araceae)

Dumbcane

Fairly tall, erect, unbranched, fleshy plant; stem girdled with leaf scars; leaves large, thickly veined, sheath-like petioles, white or yellow spots on blade.

Calcium oxalate crystals and unknown toxic proteins (possibly asparagine or protoanemonin) in all parts, including sap. On ingestion, immediate intense pain, burning, and inflammation of mouth and throat, anorexia, vomiting, and possibly diarrhea, with tongue extended, head shaking, excessive salivation, and dyspnea. Immediate pain limits amount consumed. Death infrequent.

Symptomatic

Digitalis purpurea (Scrophulariac)

Foxglove

Erect biennial with simple, petioled (long on lower, short or sessile on upper), alternate, toothed, hairy, ovate to lanceolate leaves. Purple, pink, red, white, or yellow tubular flowers (with spots) in terminal racemes; fruit is a capsule with many seeds.

Cardiac glycosides (digitoxin, digitalin, digoxin, and others), saponins, and alkaloids found throughout plant. Potency not affected by drying. Generally, acute abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, frequent urination, irregular slow pulse, tremors, convulsions, and rarely death.

Symptomatic

Dracaena spp (Agavaceae)

Dragon tree

Robust, palm-like houseplant with lance-shaped, thin, variegated, alternate, non-petioled leaves. Yellow, red, or green stripes along leaf margins in some species. Lower leaves are lost, leaf scars remain and clearly demarcated, terminal leaves retained as plant matures.

Alkaloids, saponins, and resin found in leaves. Vomiting and severe diarrhea indicative of GI irritation expected. Clinical cases have not been reported.

Symptomatic, to correct fluid and electrolyte imbalance.

Epipremnum aureum (Araceae)

Golden pathos, Hunter’s robe, Taro vine, Amarillo

Climbing vine with large heart-shaped yellow streaked leaves. Outdoor plants in the tropics, indoor potted plant (leaves are much smaller).

Entire plant is poisonous. Contains water-insoluble calcium oxalate raphides and unknown proteinaceous toxins throughout. Causes immediate intense pain (oral cavity) on chewing any portion of plant.

Oral pain resolves slowly without treatment. In severe cases, demulcents and analgesics may be indicated. Systemic involvement, if any, is not associated with raphide chewing and release of insoluble calcium oxalate.

Euphorbia pulcherrima (Euphorbiaceae)

Poinsettia, Christmas flower, Christmas star

Perennial shrub with milky, white sap throughout. Leaves alternate, petioled, distinctly veined, entire or lobed, and conspicuously bright red, pink, or white (terminal leaves), lower leaves remain green. Flowers small and inconspicuous.

Milky sap contains unknown toxic principle(s); irritates mucous membranes and causes excessive salivation and vomiting but not death. Toxicity (hybrid species) not supported experimentally. Toxic diterpenes (ingenol derivatives) found in other Euphorbia spp have not been found in this species.

Symptomatic; gastric lavage, activated charcoal, and saline cathartics should be considered.

Ficus spp (Moraceae)

Weeping fig, Rubber tree, Climbing fig

Numerous species (trees/shrubs/ vines) within the family. Milky sap (leaves, stems) in all. Commonly cultivated as potted and/or indoor landscape houseplants.

Furocoumarins, psoralens, ficin, sesquiterpinoid glycoside, and triterpines are found in sap and implicated (although not clear) in dermatologic toxicity (contact dermatitis) in pets/people.

Symptomatic and supportive care as needed.

Hedera spp (Araliaceae)

Canary ivy, English ivy, Common ivy

Climbing vine (wall cover); leaves with 5 lobes on young and root-free stems; non-lobed leaves (mature sections and root-free stems). Fruits are black berries when mature. Plant escapes cultivation; common houseplants.

Hederin, a saponin found in berries and leaves. Toxin poorly absorbed on ingestion; therefore, limited toxic effects observed. Large exposure dose results in GI effects (abdominal discomfort, diarrhea). Allergic sensitization common in people (contact dermatitis).

Concerns GI-associated problems (dehydration, vomiting, and electrolyte disturbances). Correct dehydration; antiemetics and electrolyte supplementation.

Hyacinthus spp (Liliaceae)

Hyacinths

Garden ornamentals that grow from bulbs (close resemblance to onion bulbs) and flower in early spring. Bulbs harvested and stored in fall for replanting in spring.

Calcium oxalate crystals and alkaloids (toxic potential yet to be defined) found in bulbs. After ingestion of toxic dose (bulbs), vomiting, diarrhea, and rare deaths reported. Bulbs in storage may be accessible to pets.

Symptomatic

Ilex aquifolium (Aquifoliaceae)

English holly, European holly

Evergreen shrub with leaves leathery, glossy upper surface, spiny toothed, alternate, and petioled; fruits red to yellow berries with many seeds and aromatic taste.

Saponins; an alkaloid (theobromine), triterpene compounds, and unknown compounds with digitalis-like cardiotonic activity have been found in leaves, fruits, and seeds. Abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea seen after ingestion of ≥2 berries. Death rare.

Symptomatic (at best)

Kalanchoe spp (Crassulaceae)

Kalanchoe, Air plant, Cathedral bells

Winter flowering, herbaceous, succulent, nonhardy annuals or perennials. Fleshy, serrate or crenate, opposite, petioled leaves. Bright red, orange, or pink flowers in umbel. Stems become woody and untidy with age.

Cardiac glycosides found in leaves. Within hours of ingesting toxic dose, depression, rapid breathing, teeth grinding, ataxia, paralysis, opisthotonos (rabbit), and death (rat).

Symptomatic; atropine has been effective in rabbits.

Lilium longiflorum, L tigrinum (Liliaceae)

Easter lily, Trumpet lily

Plants grown from bulbs; leaves alternate or whorled, sessile, linear or lanceolate blades; large showy funnel-form flowers. Fruits capsules with numerous, flat seeds.

Unknown toxin found throughout plants. Renal failure in cats 2–4 days after ingestion. Not reported toxic to other species. Vomiting, depression, loss of appetite within 12 hr after ingestion. Increased creatinine, BUN, phosphorus, and potassium indicate toxicity.

Emetics, activated charcoal, saline cathartic, and nursing care—as for renal failure—within hours of ingestion. Delayed treatment is associated with poor prognosis.

Narcissus spp (Amaryllidaceae)

Daffodils,

Amaryllis,

Naked lady lily

Plant grown from bulb with leaves arising from ground. Flower(s) white or yellow arising from stalk.

Plant grows from bulb (extends partially above ground). Flowers of various colors, red, pink, and white most common.

Bulbs are poisonous; contain lycorine and related phenanthridine alkaloids. If small dose ingested, few or no clinical signs; if large-dose exposure, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance.

Most exposures result in limited toxic responses and resolve without treatment. In large-dose exposure, symptomatic treatment with rehydration, antiemetics, electrolyte replacement.

Persea americana (Lauraceae)

Avocado pear, Alligator pear

Trees or shrubs with long branches arising from terminal buds, widely cultivated for its fruits. Three commonly cultivated races (Mexican, Guatemalan, and West Indies). Leaves ovate-elliptical, entire, alternate, veined, dark-green above and paler below, papery to the feel. Flowers inconspicuous, yellow-green in axillary or terminal panicles; fruit berry, ovoid to pyriform in shape with thick, leathery, glossy dark green skin over lime-green to yellow flesh and a smooth, ovoid, solitary seed.

All above-ground parts (leaves in particular) reported toxic to cattle, horses, goats, rabbits, canaries, ostriches, and fish. Responsible toxin a monoglyceride. Oil found in fruits used for cosmetic purposes. Toxicity associated with noninfectious agalactia (cattle, rabbits, goats), pulmonary congestion, cardiac arrhythmia, submandibular edema, acute death (rabbits, caged birds, goats), respiratory distress, generalized congestion, subcutaneous edema, and hydropericardium (suggestive of cardiac failure [caged birds]). In caged birds, clinical signs may be seen within 24 hr (usually after ≥12 hr), with death 1–2 days after exposure.

Primarily symptomatic and supportive (see Avocado).

Philodendron spp (Araceae)

Philodendron

Climbing vines with aerial roots; leaves (major attraction as a houseplant) are large, unlobed or pinnately lobed and heart-shaped; rarely flowering.

Calcium oxalate crystals and unidentified proteins throughout entire plant. On ingestion, immediate pain, local irritation to mucous membranes, excessive salivation, edematous tongue and pharynx, dyspnea, and renal failure. Excitability, nervous spasms, convulsions, and occasional encephalitis reported in cats.

Symptomatic

Phoradendron flavescens (Viscaceae)

Mistletoe

Perennial parasitic shrub that grows on deciduous trees. Evergreen, ovoid, opposite leaves on round, highly branched, green stem. White berries with single seed. Brought into homes during Christmas season.

Amines (β-phenylethylamine, acetylcholine, choline, and tyramine), toxic proteins (viscotoxins), and unknowns in all parts. Vomiting, profuse diarrhea, dilated pupils, rapid labored breathing, shock, and death from cardiovascular collapse within hours of ingesting toxic dose.

Symptomatic

Rhododendron spp (Ericaceae)

Azalea, Rhododendron

Evergreen or deciduous shrub with simple, alternate, entire leaves; funnel-shaped flowers in terminal umbel-like clusters or solitary and of various colors; fruits are capsules with many seeds.

Andromedotoxins (grayanotoxins) found in all parts, including pollen and nectar. Within hours of ingestion of toxic dose (1 g/kg), salivation, lacrimation, vomiting, diarrhea, dyspnea, muscle weakness, convulsions, coma, and death. Signs may last several days, but toxin is not cumulative.

Symptomatic; gastric lavage, activated charcoal, saline cathartics, calcium injection, and antibiotics to control possible pneumonia suggested.

Sansevieria spp (Agavaceae)

Sansevieria, Snake plant, Mother-in-law’s tongue

Hardy, succulent houseplant. Leaves erect, elongate, lanceolate, and flat or cylindrical, dark green with or without a yellow stripe along the margins, and horizontal gray bands throughout; many yellow star-like flowers on tall central raceme or spike.

Hemolytic saponin and organic acids found in leaves and flowers. Vomiting, salivation, diarrhea, and hemolysis related to GI activity of these compounds.

Symptomatic; fluids and electrolytes may be necessary.

Schefflera spp (Araliaceae)

Schefflera, Umbrella tree

Fast-growing evergreen with glossy, palmately compound leaves that hang and spread, appearing like an umbrella. Depending on the species, leaflets increase with plant maturity and become more compact; veins pronounced; margins entire to slightly crenate.

Oxalate found in the leaves. Mucous membrane irritation, salivation, anorexia, vomiting, and if severe enough, diarrhea.

Symptomatic

Solanum pseudocapsicum (Solanaceae)

Jerusalem cherry

Shrub with simple, lanceolate, entire or slightly serrated leaves. Small, star-shaped white flowers. Ripe fruits are red, shiny berries with many white seeds.

Solanocapsine and related alkaloids found in leaves and fruits. Anorexia, abdominal pain, vomiting, hemorrhagic diarrhea, salivation, progressive weakness or paralysis, dyspnea, bradycardia, circulatory collapse, dilated pupils, and convulsions reported.

Symptomatic; gastric lavage, activated charcoal, electrolytes and fluids, and anticonvulsants suggested.

Taxus spp (Taxaceae)

Yew

Evergreen tree or small erect shrub with alternate, needle-like, glossy (upper surface), dull (lower surface) leaves. Seeds (generally one per fruit) black-brown or green, nearly enclosed in a cup-shaped, fleshy, red covering (aril).

The alkaloids (taxines and ephedrine), cyanide, and volatile oils found throughout plant except the fleshy aril. Nervousness, trembling, ataxia, dyspnea, collapse; bradycardia progressing to cardiac standstill and death without struggle. Empty right side of heart; dark, tarry blood in left side of heart; limited nonspecific postmortem lesions.

Symptomatic at best; usually futile once clinical signs appear. Atropine may be helpful.

Zamia pumila (Zamiaceae)

Coontie, Florida arrowroot, Seminole bread, Cycad

Palm-like plant with thick underground fleshy, tuberous stem from which grow few pinnately compound, palm-like leaves ~2 ft long; cones containing inch-long, shiny, orange-red seeds.

The glucoside cycasin and its aglycone methylazoxymethanol (a colon-specific carcinogen in mice) found in leaves, seeds, and stem. Ingestion associated with hepatic and GI disturbances and ataxia. Clinical signs are persistent vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, depression, and muscular paralysis. A neurologic condition characterized by hindleg paralysis (hyperextension followed by incomplete extension) has been reported in cattle.

No specific therapy; IV fluids and symptomatic care recommended.

a Images for many of the plants described here, as well as for plants of Australia, the Caribbean, and South Africa, are available online at www.merckvetmanual.com.

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* This is the Veterinary Version. *