A Guide to Poisonous House Plants: What Everyday Plants Can Harm Your Children or Pets?

Many people enjoy decorating their homes with plants to invite nature and warmth into the living space. However, do you know that some plants could potentially harm your child or pet if ingested?

This article lists some of the more common plant varieties that you may want to consider removing from your house if you have young children or pets. This is not an all-inclusive list, and you may have other potentially poisonous plants depending on where you live.

Note that even though a houseplant may not be fatally poisonous, it may be toxic enough to induce vomiting, stomach upset, and burning sensations on the exposed skin. In some cases, children or pets can be at risk of heart and respiratory failure and even death if they eat a large quantity of certain plants.

Be especially wary of any plant with berries as they are often very toxic.

Cats, in particular, have a fond tendency to chew on anything green and alive in your house. If you do have indoor cats and want to have houseplants, be sure to thoroughly research the plant first and check with your vet. Remember, cats are extremely adept climbers and jumpers, and they will eat a plant no matter where you place it in your home.

If for any reason you suspect that your child or pet has eaten a plant or plant material including berries, contact poison control immediately for children and call your vet for your pets.

Be sure to have the following information available when you call:

1. What plant did your child or pet eat?
2. How much of the plant did they eat?
3. When did they eat it?
4. Are there any symptoms such as rash, skin irritation, vomiting, or diarrhea?
5. What are their vital signs? Any problems breathing?

Common House Plants That Are Potentially Toxic

Amaryllis – bulb

Azalea – entire plant

Bird of paradise – pods

Caladium – whole plant

Christmas rose – roots and leaves

Crocus – whole plant, especially bulbs

Daffodil – bulbs


Elephant Ear Caladium – entire plant

Holly – berries

Horse chestnut – all parts, children love to collect these nuts

Iris – leaves and roots

Ivy – entire plant but especially leaves and berries

Lilies – whole plant, especially for cats

Mistletoe – berries

Oak trees – all parts, including the acorns that children love to gather

Philodendrons – whole plant

Poinsettias – whole plant

Poison Hemlock, Ivy, Sumac – sap from all these plants

Rhododendron – all parts

Tulip – bulbs

If you really want to have a living plant available for your indoor cat’s digestive health, then I recommend visiting your local pet store for cat grass. The grass is safe for both children and pets, and you won’t have to make a late-night emergency room visit.

Another safe alternative is to use artificial plants. These plants are often so realistic that they will add beauty to your home while keeping it safe for small children and pets.



The Humane Society of the United States




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