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Poisonous Holiday Plants

As residents in New York City prepare for the holidays, people will be lining their homes with gorgeous seasonal greenery such as holly, mistletoe, yew, ivy, and poinsettias. However, what many people don’t realize is that these plants can be toxic — or even fatal — if ingested. Unfortunately, children are the most at-risk of being poisoned.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “over 300 children in the United States . . . are treated in an emergency department, and two children die [from accidental poisoning].” By becoming educated on how these holiday plants can impact the health of your child, you can help reduce the risk of poisoning in your own home.

  • Holly – While the leaves of a holly plant are non-toxic, the berries can be poisonous if ingested. In children and pets, symptoms can be seen if even two berries are consumed. Swallowing these berries can cause diarrhea, vomiting, drowsiness, and dehydration. In severe cases, a trip to the emergency room may be necessary.
  • Mistletoe – Some species of this plant contain viscotoxins, which are poisonous proteins that can cause gastrointestinal distress, a slowed heartbeat, and other reactions. All parts of this plant (including berries, stems, and leaves) are considered toxic.
  • Yew – Yew plants contain the poisonous chemical compounds, Taxine and Taxol. In a 2015 study focused on the toxicity of the plant, researchers found that “patients who ingest a lethal dose [of yew] frequently die due to cardiogenic shock, in spite of resuscitation efforts.” The berries and needles of this plant are poisonous.
  • Ivy – English ivy, otherwise known as Hedera Helix, is toxic to both humans and animals. The leaves can cause severe contact dermatitis, blisters, and skin inflammation. The berries, which are a deep purple color, may cause a burning feeling in the digestive tract, breathing issues, gastrointestinal problems, delirium, hallucinations, and even seizures.
  • Poinsettias – Ingesting the leaves of a poinsettia can lead to mild cases of nausea and vomiting in humans. In pets, these symptoms can be more severe. If the sap of the plant comes into contact with the skin, it can lead to mild irritation.

If your child or loved one has ingested a toxic amount of any of these plants, do not hesitate to call the Poison Control Center for immediate advice. While a trip to the emergency room may be necessary, it is preferable to losing a loved one.

Contact a New York Premises Liability Lawyer

The holidays should be spent spreading cheer and showing generosity, not worrying about unexpected cases of poisoning. If you or your child became ill due to a negligent property owner’s failure to warn you about dangerous plants in their home or on their property,  call Hach & Rose, LLP at (212) 779-0057 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights. 


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