Sunday, July 21, 2013

Poisonous Berries In Your Garden (Backyard)

There is a whole other realm of gardening that we need to educate ourselves in. The by-product of many "beautiful" plants that provide visual interest in the garden, can also reek havoc with children and pets if their "beautiful" fruit are ingested.

Here are two of the most unsuspecting noxious berries in my garden right now.

1.  Convolaria majalis (Lily of the Valley). I love this plant in flower. Once the white bell flowers wither and die, green berries mature to these bright red ones. I've placed it in the garden where I know no children or pets are around to be lured or interested in picking. I've even placed a wire mesh at the base of the fence where it is situated. No cats or dogs can get through.

Here Convolaria berries are drying in late summer with their foliage. The berries hold on until some major frost hits them.

2. Deadly Nightshade, Climbing Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara).  I did not introduce this plant to my garden. It showed up and began twining around my trellis. I have a young evergreen vine just establishing here, but this Nightshade made it's way up the trellis faster than the evergreen vine.  Considered a weed, you can find this vine nearly everywhere. Surprisingly, I've witnessed birds eating them with no troubles. They intern poop out the berries and help the vine seed itself just about any where.

I kept it because of their lovely purple clustered flowers and the fact that it grows well in shade, but don't let that fool you. The Deadly Nightshade vine berries have been known to harm and kill unsuspecting pigs when ingested.

They produce numerous berries and have an attractive look about them. A distant relative to the tomato, this plant should be ripped out in any garden where children frequent.

Have a look at the easily recognizable leaf of the plant. Deadly Nightshade is a fast grower and vegetative. Plant growth dies down to the ground overwinter, but root is still alive - a herbaceous vine that returns each spring. 

Here are two great resources on poisonous plants that we should bookmark:

Common Poisonous Plants and Plant Parts

Garden Plants Poisonous to People

If a child or pet ingests either of these, please call your local poison control. Ontario Poison Centre 

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