Common but nasty plants

Plants that can be dangerous to children

This week we made a start on keeping a nature journal with our daughter, it’s been a dream of ours ever since she was born to teach her all about plants and to give her the knowledge to be able to identify specific plants that have beneficial uses. It is also important to us that we teach her and now our young son about what we call “no no plants”. Plants or part of a plant that we do not want our children to touch or eat as they can cause harm. This post will cover “no no”plants.


Stinging Nettle:
This shouldn’t need much explanation, the tiny hair like thorns cause skin irritation and the thorns get thicker nearer the base of the plant. Don’t touch and beware of little plants hiding in grass when you go barefoot.

Home grown crops:
Potato, Rhubarb and Tomato. These common home grown crops might not be what you were expecting to see on  our list, but it is easy for children to become confused. When they see you harvesting and eating certain parts of the plants they can assume that all the plant is safe to eat. It is important that children should know that the leaves will cause serious stomach upset and not to confuse potato berries with cherry tomatoes. It may make matters more confusing if you grow potato leaf tomatoes.

Kids will go mad for blackberries but it takes time to get the skill of picking blackberries. The thorns on a blackberry bush are thick and have a tendency to curve or angle to the stem. This has a nasty effect when children stick their arms into a thicket to retrieve the ripe berries. They may do so with relative ease but as they try to extract their arm the angled thorns are pushed deeper into their flesh. This leaves nasty cuts and scratches from dirty thorns that can lead to infection.

Particularly “Deadly nightshade”, the berries can look edible and similar to a currant. As the name suggests the berries are extremely dangerous. This is an important one for children to learn to avoid. It’s best identified by its’ flowers which are very different from a currant.

Giant Hogweed:
Sometimes confused with cow parsley, giant hogweed can cause horrible skin irritation. Hogweed however is much taller than cow parsley but better to teach your kids not to risk it. It is commonly found near rivers and should not be touched at all. The leaves and flowers are very recognisable.

Common berries:
Cukoo pint, Ivy, Holly, Privet, Virginia creeper and Snowberry are all fairly common plants which produce berries that will cause very upset tummies. Young children in particular will pop things in their mouths to try them without hesitation.

Okay, so fungi aren’t plants, but this still makes the list. Perhaps growing in the lawn, mushrooms will look harmless and inviting to inquisitive young mouths used to eating mushrooms at home. Even some adults are fooled by the harmless looking but poisonous fungi in the UK. With names such as “death cap” it’s obvious how important it is to teach children not to eat these.


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