Thursday, September 9, 2010

Native Plants That Can Be Toxic To Pets

There are several plants that are quite toxic to pets and livestock. Listing them all would take an entire book of their own. These four native plants are highlighted for this article, to bring a heads up to the dangers that may be lurking in gardens nearby. Plant any of these far away from any grazing livestock or pets.

Arisaema triphyllum (L.) Schott (Jack in the Pulpit)
You’ll find this one next to watery slopes, waterfalls, or your local watering hole. Growing up to 2 feet, these have green streaked with purple “pulpits”. There are basal leaves that stay in clumps at the base of the stalk. These have red shiny clustered berries for fruit. Beware: Jack in the Pulpit’s have calcium oxalate crystals present all in the plant and are toxic to most pets. Take care where you have these, but the beauty is astounding.

Aruncus dioicus (Walt.) Fern. (Bride’s Feathers)
These have beautiful creamy white blooms, flowering in late spring to early summer. With a height of 4-6 feet, these delicate airy blooms make a great backdrop for the property or as a border plant. They need a spacing of 4-6 feet apart. Plant these in average moist soil and in partial shade for maximum growth. To propagate, allow seedheads to dry on plant, reserve and collect, then direct sow seed outdoors. Beware: The seed is poisonous if ingested.

Asclepias incarnata L. (Swamp Milkweed)
This flower is a favorite among butterflies. It gets up to 2-3 feet high and you need to space it around 18-24 inches apart. It prefers sun to partial shade in acidic soil. The flowers are pink or purple, and bloom from mid-summer to late fall. It is a clump forming plant, and you can divide these clumps to propagate or just direct sow the seeds outside after frost. Milkweeds tend to be susceptible to aphids, but being that they are the only plant that the Monarch Butterfly’s larvae can survive on makes it worth it. It is a fragrant and beautiful plant to have in any garden. Beware: All parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested.

Cocculus carolinus (L.) DC. (Carolina Coralbead)
This vine grows 10-12 feet long and needs at least 3-4 foot spacing. It prefers full sun to partial shade. Its pale green blooms come in summer and the red berries begin in fall. The foliage is shiny and deciduous, and pretty to look at. Coralbead’s berries look like coral beads, hence its name. You may propagate these by stem cuttings or by seed started indoors. Beware: All parts are poisonous if ingested.

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