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Poisonous Plants: Hellebore, Oleander, and Vinca (Periwinkle)

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Kingston Cardinal (Hellebore)

Kingston Cardinal (Hellebore)

If you didn't know that hellebores, oleander, and periwinkle (Vinca major and Vinca minor) are poisonous, this is a warning to you!

Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by thinking only a few plants are poisonous, such as foxglove, hemlock, mistletoe, and the deadly nightshade (all of which are well-known). There are actually quite a large number of poisonous plants.

1. Hellebore

Hellebores contain glycosides, variously named helleborin(e), helleborein(e) and helleborigenin(e). In common with many of the buttercup family, hellebores also contain protoanemonin in varying amounts according to the species.

The roots of all Helleborus are strongly emetic and potentially fatal. In the past, it was sometimes used to cause vomiting after poisoning, but this is now known to be harmful. Some varieties were used in the past to treat worms in children, the idea being to expel the worms by vomiting. Some varieties of worm remain in the stomach, so this treatment may sometimes have been successful. Where the worms had moved to the gut, however, it would seem that the dose would be repeated and increased, often resulting in the death of the child.

Hellebores are said to produce diarrhoea and have caused cardiac (heart) problems.

Common Names of Hellebore (Species-Specific)

  • Stinking hellebore (Helleborus foetidus)
  • Christmas rose (H. niger)
  • Fragrant hellebore and sweet hellebore (H. odorus)
  • Lenten rose (H. orientalis)
  • Purple hellebore (H. purpurascens)
  • Green hellebore (H. viridis)


Sap and Seeds From Hellebores Are Poisonous to Touch

Be very careful when harvesting hellebore seeds. It is best to wait until the seed pods dry out and then just shake them into a container or collect them from the ground.

This summer, I was myself poisoned by hellebore sap—my fingers turned black, as though badly burned. Here's how it happened:

I picked the seed pods whilst the seeds were still green and spent about twenty minutes squeezing the seeds out of the pods, so my fingers were in constant contact with the sap. I began to feel a tingling pins-and-needles feeling in my fingers and thumbs and it got so bad that I felt dizzy and had to sit down and my hands felt partly paralyzed and burning. After a few more minutes I realized what had caused the problem and ran my hands under cold water to wash away the juice. My fingers turned very red, almost purple, and were throbbing.

After 24 hours they were, if anything, worse, and I went to the doctor, who said I had done the right thing washing off the poison. She prescribed an emollient cream to rub on, and I certainly needed it. Over the next few days, the skin on my fingers and thumbs turned almost black and became so hard and chitinous that I could actually hear them scratching like a beetle when I tapped them on the table. They were burning and very painful.

Helleborus argutifolius

Helleborus argutifolius

Numerous Garden Hellebores, All Poisonous

Hellebores flower shortly after Christmas; they flower for about three months, sometimes more. The Christmas rose, Helleborus niger, is fairly low growing, with palmate leaves. Some of them are taller, up to 2 or 3 feet high. Hellebores are mostly creamy white tinged with green, sometimes with mauve or pink colours.

They are self-seeding and propagate very easily from the seeds which form in large seedpods when the flowers have finished. Hellebores are useful plants in the garden, because they grow well in shade or half-sun, and have ornate large green palmate leaves which fill up empty spaces in winter when other plants have died back. The buds start forming in December, ready to burst forth in late winter or early spring.

Purple Hellebore (Helleborus x Hybridus)

Purple Hellebore (Helleborus x Hybridus)

This hellebore is more unusual. I must confess, I sneaked into my neighbours' front garden when they were away to take this photo—I mean, fancy going away when you have something like this coming into bloom—isn't it beautiful?

Oleander: poisonous plant

Oleander: poisonous plant

2. Oleander (Nerium Oleander)

Oleander (Nerium oleander) is one of the most dangerous poisonous plants. The whole plant is poisonous, and even water that the cut plants have stood in is poisonous. It grows wild in Mediterranean countries.

Medical Uses: Oleander contains the principal cardiac glycosides oleandrin, which can be used instead of digitalis, and neriine, as well as folinerin and digitoxigenin. The cardiovascular system may be affected by the glycosides oleandrin, oleandroside, and nerioside. The two most potent poisons are oleandrin and neriine, known for their powerful effect on the heart.

Symptoms: Oleander causes intense abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, drowsiness, dizziness, visual disturbances, rapid pulse, an irregular heartbeat and heart malfunction, often causing death. The sap in contact with the skin can cause dermatitis, blistering, irritation and soreness.

Treatment consists of inducing the patient to vomit, stomach pumping, or feeding activated charcoal in order to absorb as much of the poison as possible. The odds of surviving increase dramatically If the victim survives the initial 24 hours after ingestion.

More About Oleander Poison

Oleander poison is so strong that it can poison a person who simply eats the honey made by bees that have digested oleander nectar.

If taken internally it is deadly to humans and most animals. Cattle, sheep and goats can be killed by drinking water into which leaves of oleander have fallen.

The poisons are said to survive burning, so cooking over a fire of oleander wood is said to cause the poison to transfer via the smoke to meat being cooked. During the Peninsular Wars some of Wellington's soldiers are said to have died after eating meat cooked on skewers made from the wood.

Soldiers sleeping on oleander branches were reported to have died according to the Gardener's Chronicle in 1880.

In 1989, the Western Journal of Medicine reported the case of an 83-year old woman who attempted suicide by drinking a tea made of an infusion of oleander leaves. She suffered severe bradycardia with a pulse rate of 40 and was treated with atropine to counteract this. There are other reports in the literature of failed suicide attempts.

There are reports of a wide range of animals being poisoned by oleander, including sheep, cattle, horses, canaries, budgerigars, donkeys, a sloth and a bear. In general, farm animals sense that they should avoid contact with oleander. and, because of this, in Mediterranean countries oleander is sometimes used as a field boundary in preference to a fence.

Vinca minor (periwinkle), a poisonous plant

Vinca minor (periwinkle), a poisonous plant

3. Periwinkle

Periwinkle (Vinca major and Vinca minor) is a mildly poisonous plant. Periwinkle or vinca has small shiny leaves, and small violet star-shaped flowers in spring and then intermittently during summer and autumn.

Vinca is evergreen and low-lying and gradually spreads, so needs to be kept under control. It is a useful plant because it is good ground cover, even growing rampantly under trees. It is happy in sun or shade, but needs watering if the weather is hot and dry.

Vinca major is a close relative of oleander but is far less harmful. Eating vinca plants can cause systemic toxicity varying from mild abdominal cramping to serious cardiac (heart) complications

Medicinal use: Vinca contains a group of alkaloids including vinchristine and vinblastine, both of which are used in chemotherapy. Vinca has been used to treat high blood pressure and control excessive bleeding, but overdose results in hypotension (low blood pressure), which can cause collapse.

Vinca major (periwinkle), a poisonous plant. It looks like Vinca minor, but has larger leaves and flowers

Vinca major (periwinkle), a poisonous plant. It looks like Vinca minor, but has larger leaves and flowers

A List of Common Plants Poisonous to Humans

Grow poisonous plants, by all means, but be alert to the dangers. You need to be particularly wary of poisonous plants if there are children around—they love red and white berries, and it is so easy for them to snap the stems of plants which then exude poisonous sap. You know what kids are like; if their fingies are sticky, they lick them.

  • Holly
  • Mistletoe
  • Oleander
  • Hellebore
  • Ivy
  • Periwinkle (Vinca Minor and Vinca Major)
  • Rhubarb (the leaves)
  • Castor Oil Plant (Ricin comes from this plant)
  • Daffodils
  • Crocus
  • Deadly Nightshade
  • Potato (the green parts of this plant)
  • Rhododendron
  • Hydrangea
  • Digitalis (Foxglove)
  • Poinsettia
  • Lupins

Have I frightened you enough yet?

Death of Socrates From Hemlock—by Jacques-Louise David

Socrates was sentenced to death by drinking a cup of poisonous hemlock - because he was said to be corrupting the minds of the younger generation against democratic government

Socrates was sentenced to death by drinking a cup of poisonous hemlock - because he was said to be corrupting the minds of the younger generation against democratic government

Helleborus Heronswood Double Pink

Helleborus Heronswood Double Pink

Here's a YouTube Video About Poisonous Plants

Have You Got Any Comments About Poisonous Plants?

It would be interesting to hear how common such poisoning is among our community. But do come and visit and leave your comments, even if you haven't got any lurid stories to tell. I love to hear from people round the world.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: If hellebores are poisonous, why does it seem that so many sites seem to encourage planting it? We saw it in a neighbor's backyard, and it is very pretty and easy to grow, but if it's dangerous, why isn't there more warning against growing it?

Answer: There are many ornamental garden plants which are poisonous, but this does not mean that they are emitting poisonous gas. The poison usually lies in the sap or seeds, and I suppose the sites you refer to simply assume that people will be careful about skin contact or eating or licking fingers after touching plants. I agree it does seem strange that they don't come with a warning.

Question: I planted vinca at the base of my orange and lemon trees. Does this mean the fruit will be poisonous?

Answer: I don't think vinca would poison the fruit trees. I looked up the Royal Horticultural Society website, and I am sure that if this had been the case, they would have mentioned it. Vinca is only mildly poisonous.

Question: Are the roots/vines of Vinca minor or Honeysuckle toxic to dogs?

Answer: Vinca minor can be toxic to dogs, but this is rare, as the taste is unpleasant.

"In many cases, the symptoms from ingesting this plant will be restricted to the gastrointestinal symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain accompanied by a slightly lowered blood pressure."

Read more at:

All parts of honeysuckle are highly toxic to dogs, according to

Have You or Anyone You Know Been Poisoned by Plants?

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on April 11, 2018:

Thanks for the information - that must have been a really scary incident

Kay See on April 10, 2018:

Oleander is poisonous and dangerous for children. I almost died when I was 2 after tasting or ingesting part of the flower... I went code blue while being evaluated at the hospital. My mother took me in to be seen as after she saw that my eyes were rolling back into my head and I wasn't well after coming in from omega play time in our backyard While waiting for an evaluation, they thought I may have had a seizure, my breathing was labored and I went code blue and thankfully was revived. My neighbor then removed her plant following the incident.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on January 10, 2018:

This is why I mentioned this fact

Sandy Ks on December 30, 2017:

I never knew the leaves of Rhubarb was poisonous. My family has grown them for years.

Stephanie on August 10, 2017:

I was picking a bunch of different flowers and plants and got poked by something and have been.really sick with a rash that comes and goes im deseperate to get better can anyone help symptoms are rash dizzy weak tired muscle ache burning of the tongue diahreah vomiting cough

Julian on July 23, 2017:

My dad's wife is making him tea with white periwinkle flowers, he has an enlarged prostate and could not urinate and ended up in the ER with electrolyte inbalance with his legs swollen. After cathetiraztion 1500 cc's of urine came out. They stabilized him and he went home. After eating her soup, he became very sick again? She was seen soaking white periwinkles and making potatoe papaya soup with big green leaves and my dad. Has gone from vibrant to dizzy, confused and walking with a walker???? Where can I take the soup and plants to be tested, please help me! I feel as if she may be poisoning my father.

Mickey Manchester on July 18, 2017:

My hands started itching badly when I bought some vincas (peri)

and the smell in my car bringing them home was very strong. By the time I got home I had a migraine and that made me wonder if I was allergic to these plants. I would guess that I am.

HaleyB on April 20, 2017:

I got the gardening bug about 3 years ago when I realized all of these great places I could buy plants from online at 3am during sleepless nights and well I became addicted, I actually ran out of room at my house and so I did my parents house that is on 20 acres and has a 800 ft long driveway that I had to landscape up and down both sides the whole way. Anyways I have bought many plants that I had no idea were poisonous, you'd think that they would have that important information in the plant descriptions and info buto none of them do. So I tried looking up poisonous garden plants to dogs and horses and of course they list everything basically because it can make them sick but I wanted to know what were deadly to what, which part, and how, not a lot of luck on that straightforward information. I knew hellebore were deadly to people but did not know the seeds and sap through the skin were, oleander I knew, obviously nightshade and hemlock also, and I read daffodils were to dogs and people when I looked it up. English ivy is, and I think it's called an angel Trumpet vine someone informed me was very poisonous after I posted a picture of mine blooming on fb. Common sense would say that if you are selling a potentially deadly plant you should disclose that to all possible buyers. I mean hell there were lawsuits against birth control over things they listed as possible side effects and all this hooplah over laundry detergent gel pod pack things and kids possibly eating them because they are brightly colored like candy...? Both things I thought were a bunch of crap and ridiculous and yet nothing over common plants sold everywhere that can even harm you just by touching the sap. And like I knew about oleander nightshade hemlock etc but I had no idea what they looked like... one looks very similar to Queen Anne's lace and apparently when my dad and I looked it up realized we have it all over their property. This stuff should be common knowledge, taught in school or visibly written on the plants for sale.

AngelaB on October 24, 2016:

Thank you most kindly for this article; although I knew about oleander being poisonous, I had no idea about Hellebore and Vinca Major & Minor/periwinkle. .. Dang, and I have two type of Vinca in my garden and pots, as they are so easy to grow, even if they are classed as weeds in Australia.. I was just wondering what was causing a skin reaction as I was pulling & trimming wayward Vinca... and next door's dog rolls in it! Eep!

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on September 17, 2015:

It truly is shocking how many common plants are poisonous. Also how beautiful they are. I would never have known or suspected.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on September 03, 2015:

I've never seen white, pink or scarlet vinca - they are always purple in my garden. I've just looked them up and was amazed to see the different colours in America - we live and learn, so thanks for that information, Valerie

valerie waisanen on September 02, 2015:

These vinca don't look like the periwinkles I have and see everywhere... They're always purple? I don't think so...curious how they're used to create chemo drugs, too.I live in far South Texas.Vincas are one of few plants that will withstand heat, drought, humidity of summertime. They're usually white,pink,scarlet.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on June 28, 2015:

I didn't know either, until I started doing some research.

Laura Tykarski from Pittsburgh PA on June 25, 2015:

really enjoyed this article -I have periwinkle as ground cover and never knew it was toxic-great information.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on June 02, 2015:

Oleander is not very common in the UK, but I see it when I travel, sometimes growing wild on slopes, so clearly it tolerates neglect and lack of water.

I know that lots of poisonous plants are grown where there are children and pets, with no ill effects. I stand guilty of this myself. I think no harm befalls them because the poison is in the sap, so they would not necessarily come into contact with it. Possibly animals are equipped with some sensory perception which warns them not to eat these plants, and children - well, I certainly would discourage children from playing with the sap, or licking their fingers after touching plants.

We live with danger all around us, and mainly come through it unscathed, don't we?

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on May 30, 2015:

I knew about oleander, didn't know about the others. We used to have Vinca growing in our yard for a time....but no more since I no longer garden. However, if you visit Las Vegas, you will see Oleander in abundant plantings throughout the city.Our next door neighbor has a wall of oleander, and it's common because it's a drought tolerant plant that blooms well. I see the little feral kitties sitting on the block wall fence, hiding behind the Oleander branches. It never seems to bother them.

pinkcupcakegirl on April 30, 2014:

@SavioC: I found this interesting since Vinpocetine is an alkaloid found in the leaf of periwinkle. It's commercially sold as a Nootropic (brain function enhancing) supplement. I guess in the case of Periwinkle, whole food nutrition isn't the way to go!

Barbara Tremblay Cipak from Toronto, Canada on April 29, 2014:

wow. this was very helpful - many on this list I had no idea about! Periwinkle! a must share page for sure, thank you

John Dyhouse from UK on April 25, 2014:

Wow, forewarned is forearmed - thanks for the information

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on March 26, 2014:

@MelanieKaren: No sign of lasting damage, but it was very scary at the time, and I'm a bit wary of hellebores now, although I must admit I still grow a lot of them, because they are so beautiful and have long lasting flowers over a period slightly before the rest of the garden starts flowering

Melanie Wilcox from Pennsylvania, USA on March 25, 2014:

I'm amazed of just how unaware we are of what is poisonous and what is not. It blows my mind really. I bet learning the hard way was no fun for you! -glad you're better and that you were able to figure it out! :)

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on March 23, 2014:

@junecampbell: Some people say you should never eat any part of a potato that has turned green, but I don't know. I have cut off the green parts and eaten the rest occasionally without ill effects, but would hesitate to suggest that anyone else should do that, as people probably have different levels of tolerance

June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on March 23, 2014:

I have never been poisoned by plants, nor do I know anyone else who has been. It is good information to know, though. I am wondering about the green part of potatoes. I have heard before that it is poisonous, but I know I have eaten small bits of green spots on potatoes with no ill effects. Maybe you have to eat a lot before it makes you ill?

AlleyCatLane on March 23, 2014:

Amazing we weren't poisoned as kids. The navy housing projects were our playground and there were oleanders every where. We used to catch Uncle Sams flying around the flowers and broke off branches to put in the jar with them when we caught them. I current;y have ivy, hydrangeas and usually periwinkles in my yard. Other than the ivy, had no idea the plants were poisonous. Thanks for this information.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on March 23, 2014:

@TanoCalvenoa: Yes, it's like that in many of the warmer European countries too

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on March 23, 2014:

@Susie05: I have grown it in my garden for years where nothing else would grow, and no-one in my family has suffered any ill effects, but I personally have suffered very bad effects after 20 minutes of skin contact whilst collecting hellebore seeds - thought my fingers were going to drop off!

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on March 23, 2014:

@burntchestnut: Yes, many people are unaware of which plants are poisonous - I don't recall having been taught about this at school. Maybe poisonous plants should be on the school syllabus

burntchestnut on March 15, 2014:

I knew about oleander, but not the other three.

TanoCalvenoa on March 14, 2014:

Throughout parts of Southern California, including in people's yards and along sidewalks, there are many oleander plants and it always worries me. They have them around golf courses in Palm Springs, and sometimes when the grass is mowed bighorn sheep eat the clippings, and if there's any oleander they can die. It's a scary plant.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on October 27, 2013:

@Lorelei Cohen: We used to have one in our garden when I lived in Africa. We were just told not to lick our fingers after touching the milk (sap), otherwise just left to get on with it. Maybe there should be some kind of warning on the Christmas poinsettias we see every year.

tonyleather on October 25, 2013:

Fabulous post!

Lorelei Cohen on October 23, 2013:

It really can be scary to stumble onto a poisonous plant without realizing it. Christmas always frightens me with the big promotion of Poinsettias. They are so dangerous for little children and pets.

SavioC on October 19, 2013:

Thanks for the info. I never knew Periwinkle was poisonous . Very helpful info.

grrbtn on October 13, 2013:

I am a keen gardener who tend to concentrate on growing veg and fruit, so I do have some awareness of what not to eat or touch without gloves. Your lens provides a valuable source of information on some poisonous plants. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Susie05 on October 10, 2013:

I have a ton of Periwinkle, Oh my gosh! Ugh... I had no idea!

Great lens!!

mel-kav on August 13, 2013:

I can't think of anyone I know that has been poisoned by plants. But I wonder if some people have had some mild poisoning after gardening and blamed the hot weather for their dizziness, nausea, weakness, etc. I had no idea so many plants were poisonous. Thanks for the information.

Raymond Eagar on July 30, 2013:


vicky71 on July 02, 2013:

I have periwinkles in my garden. My daughter generally plucks the flowers. It is so scary as i got to know about it. It looks so harmless. I suffer from High BP. So may be good for me. Thnaks for such an informative and unique information.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on July 02, 2013:

@anonymous: I didn't know either until I started researching poisonous garden plants

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on July 02, 2013:

@Keith J Winter: Yes, I remember seeing it in Spain and Mallorca. I think all these things are OK in the garden as long as you don't have contact with the sap, or wash your hands soon afterwards if you can't avoid handling the plants

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on July 02, 2013:

@gregxavier: Poor you - it's awful, isn't it

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on July 02, 2013:

@BLouw: : Thank you for your message which will be dealt with as soon as possible.

This is an automated reply.

Barbara Walton from France on July 02, 2013:

Yet more lovely garden plants that turn out to be deadly! Thanks for the warnings.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on July 01, 2013:

@Frischy: Eatiing strange plants is a bit like eating sweets from strangers - you just don't do it!

Keith Winter from Spain on July 01, 2013:

Another great lens Diana. I didn't know that Oleander was so poisonous. It is a beautiful plant which grows all around my village here in Spain. I will have to be careful.

anonymous on July 01, 2013:

Periwinkles are pretty poison. I did not know that.

gregxavier on July 01, 2013:

Great article! I had the poison Ivy thing real bad last year it was all over my body,I was miserable for weeks.

Frischy from Kentucky, USA on July 01, 2013:

I thought I had periwinkle in my yard, but the flowers are different. Not sure if it is a different variety or something else altogether. Either way, I won't eat it until I know for sure!

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on May 27, 2013:

@bender2003: Thanks for the information

bender2003 on May 27, 2013:

Poisonous plants means anti neoplastic drug either vinca alcaloids (vincristin) or nerium oleander extract from Zakkum are all potent chemotherapeutics.

VeronicaHaynes on November 11, 2012:

This is a really helpful lens. I didn't know that Oleander plants were so poisonous. Thanks for the great info:)

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on August 26, 2012:

@EbooksFreeWeekl1: I know, it worries me too, and I shall write about it soon, when I have done my research

EbooksFreeWeekl1 on August 22, 2012:

Very interesting and informative lens! My problem is fear of the plants that are harmful to pets as well without identifying them. Thank you for the research! :)

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on August 22, 2012:

@anonymous: No, that's the trouble - there are the obvious names that everyone knows, like deadly nightshade, but so many plants can cause problems of one kind or another

anonymous on August 22, 2012:

Thanks for the useful information. I wasn't really aware that these plants are poisonous until now.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on August 09, 2012:

@anonymous: Yes, and although rhubard stems are edible, the leaves are poisonous

anonymous on August 07, 2012:

I remember hear about most of these poisonous plants, and now I recall about the green parts of potatoes. Flowers are good to eat, but it best to know which ones. Thank you for this information. :)

Ilona E from Ohio on May 09, 2012:

I'm late discovering your marvelous lenses. Your series on poisonous plants is a service. I used to eat flowers as a child, so I'm surprised I didn't suffer any ill effects! But my mother pointed out the ones we should never eat, and that likely helped.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on April 09, 2012:

@Seasons Greetings: I was collecting seeds and emptying seed pods for about twenty minutes, with the sap in contact with my fingers, before I started to feel the adverse effects.

Laura Brown from Ontario, Canada on April 09, 2012:

I have a few helleborus growing. I didn't know they were poisonous. Haven't noticed any reaction after transplanting them or moving debris from them in the garden.

anonymous on March 31, 2012:

I already knew that many of these plants were poisonous, but some surprised me, and dozens of them grow in my yard. I need to study poisonous plants for a science project, and this page helped me know which plants i'm going to focus on- and all of them grow in my yard! thank you!

Joan Haines on December 17, 2011:

Thank you. I have vinca/periwinkle all over out in the front yard. You're doing a great service by getting this information to more of us.

WildWilliams on December 16, 2011:

Thank you for this information.

Chardoo on May 31, 2011:

You have a lovely garden. Thank you for your lenses about poisonous plants. I hadn't realized how many were in my yard

pacrapacma lm on March 22, 2011:

My kids are always asking which plants are poisonous. We've grown Nasturtiums and let them eat the flowers.

sidther lm on March 06, 2011:

I love how you have presented this! Great lens!

PrettyWorld on March 06, 2011:

We have livestock, so we need to be very careful about poisonous plants. I only plant them in the parts of our land downhill and downstream from our animal areas, and then only in limited numbers.

Some are too risky for us to plant at all. We will not grow castor bean here, and we can't grow rhodendrons because their poisonous foliage stays lush and green during seasons when the rest of the land is sparse. If a goat were ever to get out of the "Goatland" area, there's to great a chance their first stop would be the nearest rhodedendron bush

That said, we do grow and use some medicinal herbs (like comfrey and skullcap) that have been used as folk remedies for ages but in modern times have been grouped into some "dangerous to use" lists. But we use them sparingly as needed, and as fresh herbs, not concentrated extracts.

howtocurecancer on March 06, 2011:

This is new to me even the leaves of rhubarb. Great lens.

anonymous on March 05, 2011:

It is so surprising that these poisonous plants have such beautiful flowers, periwinkle is quite lovely. However, some of these can be very helpful with drugs.

Jeanette from Australia on January 22, 2011:

What an informative lens! Vincristine, from the vinca plant, was one of the drugs in my daughter's chemotherapy and contributed to her hair loss at the time.

Wanda Fitzgerald from Central Florida on November 19, 2010:

You have a great selection of gardening lenses. I am an avid gardener myself but my subtropical landscape looks quite different. Right now it's a bit out of control as I'm doing more squidoo writing than garden maintenance.

Sue Mah from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on September 27, 2010:

Thanks for the information. i didn't know that periwinkle was poisonous. Somehow we assume the common flowers we see everyday are safe.

capriliz lm on September 25, 2010:

I knew about oleander, but did not know that periwinkle was poisonous. Thank you for putting this together.

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on September 18, 2010:

Our yard is filled with Periwinkle and I had no idea that it was poisonous, too. My goodness, you sure have given me a lot to think about. Your garden is lovely.

Emily Tack from USA on June 24, 2010:

Yea! I was so very glad to see this Lens! I live in Florida, and tell anyone who will listen to me, about Oleander. Before we moved back up north, when I was a little girl, we were in Florida. There were signs everywhere, warning of the dangers of Oleander. Now, they are planted everywhere, and there are no signs to be found. Great Lens!

anonymous on June 20, 2010:

Hi Stuart,

It's all very well wearing gloves, but try opening seed pods with thick gloves on - you wouldn't get very far! Hope your fingies are better soon - mine took about 4 weeks to feel completely normal again.

anonymous on June 16, 2010:

Following a recent piece on Gardeners World showing how to get the seeds (the presenter wearing gloves), I too decided to harvest the seeds. It's now one week later and my finger and thumb tips on both hands are still numb. The burning only lasted three days but persists when I try to hold something or type. I feel a warning should have been given as to why one should wear gloves.

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on April 30, 2010:

@norma-holt: Thanks so much for that, Norma

Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on April 30, 2010:

@Hairdresser007: Yes, I was freaked out - it looked like gangrene (not that I know what gangrene looks like), and I envisaged whole digits dropping off!

James Jordan from Burbank, CA on April 29, 2010:

interesting. how strange about your fingers turning black!!! i would have been freaked out!

irenemaria from Sweden on April 28, 2010:

Very interesting lens! I learned the English names thanks to you =)

norma-holt on April 17, 2010:

Another great lens on an important subject. I blamed Oleander for giving me the start to a lifelong battle with sinus as my grandmother grew it and as young kids we would pick the flowers. I also felt ill afterwards. Blessed and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust


WebSpinstress on April 08, 2010:

But, Hellebore are so pretty...especially in dark shaded varieties! Lensrolling to Gothic Midnight Garden to make sure that no one will eat them. ;-) So sorry to read about your experience with harvesting Hellebore. Scary....

Barbara Radisavljevic from Paso Robles, CA on March 28, 2010:

I knew about oleander, since I've always lived around it. The other two I was not aware of, but don't have either on my property yet. I'm off to read about irises, since i do have those.

sheriangell on March 01, 2010:

I adore digging in the dirt and making things grow so discover which plants are poisonous a long time ago, fortunately from research and not the hard way like you did....yikes! Very well put together lens, jam packed with useful information.