Many plants that we commonly grow as houseplants in our homes are poisonous, some more than others.
Some toxic houseplants and common succulents that we often grow are usually not something that will kill anyone; however, there are those with poisonous sap that can cause irritation in certain people.
Shockingly, one of the most common of these is the Euphorbia.
Euphorbia tiriculli, the pencil cactus or sticks on fire is a plant often hard to resist because of its gorgeous red stems.
Crown or thorns, the common name for Euphorbia milii is a sharp succulent that needs to be kept out of reach of children. Cats will eat the oval leaves, even though the stem has sharp spines that will deter them from chewing on those parts.
Innocent succulent novices purchase these plants in huge quantities from box stores, which don’t label them to let people know that they’re poisonous or dangerous.
If you’re taking cuttings or repotting these, it’s advisable to use gloves and wash thoroughly if you’re exposed to the milky latex that they exude.
One problem with exposure is contact dermatitis, an itching rash on your skin.
Skin irritation could be the least of your worries.
Getting the white sap in your eyes can be much more serious.
Cats quite often fall victim to poisonous succulent plants – they can’t resist chewing on them in an attempt to get chlorophyll to aid their digestion.
In the wild, cats and other animals will find grass or other greens to eat for this purpose, but in the constrained environment the indoors, they’ll try anything, sometimes with unfortunate results.
Mouth irritation or stomach pain can be among the results of eating parts of succulent plants, but they could even cause abnormal heart rhythms.
If you suspect that your pet or a child has ingested any parts of your indoor succulent collection, please get veterinary care or medical attention immediately.
Some of the consequences can be liver or kidney failure, so it’s imperative that a vet or doctor evaluates the problem. Take along some of the plant if possible to show which potential poison they’ve ingested.
To avoid this problem altogether (and the heartache and anguish it entails) start some barley grass in small pots or even flats to let your pet periodically have access to some greens.
They’ll thank you by leaving your house plants alone!
Handle with care
Poisonous if Ingested
Aloe vera (dogs)
Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia sp.)
Jerusalem Cherry (Solanum sp.)
Philodendron (Swiss Cheese Plant)
Poinsettia (another Euphorbia sp.)
Potential Skin Irritants
Crown of Thorns
Still, wanting to grow Poisonous Succulents?
Follow these tips and guidelines to keep everyone safe;
- Pick up any parts that the plants shed such as individual leaves.
- Shut the door to your plant room if possible, or make sure your pet doesn’t have easy access to the plants.
- Keeping them up off the floor may help with small pets or children.
- Look for old bird cages in thrift stores and garage sales to put over your succulent house plants to keep them out of reach.
- Terrariums are also useful to keep plants and pets apart.
See also the Pet Safety Tips here.
See the pages here for more on poisonous plants in general:
So what can you grow?
Sedum is generally non-toxic to pets and humans, in fact, they are known as Bittercress in some areas; I’m thinking someone had to taste it to know that it was bitter.
Crassula ovata, the regular old Jade plant, is approved to have around animals, but the plant might not appreciate having bite marks in the leaves. Dogs should never be allowed to eat Jade plant – keep it out of reach.
Echeveria are safe around pets and humans, although it’s not advisable to eat them. They are quite often used as ornaments on wedding cakes, although organically grown plants are suggested.
Haworthia are non toxic.
Sempervivum Hens and Chicks are safe to grow, and they aren’t poisonous if ingested.
This is not a complete list; please use caution when displaying your houseplants to make sure little mouths aren’t put in danger.
See more Poisonous Plants here…
Click on each link to another poisonous plant…
THE BABY ATE SOME LEAVES IS IT POISION?
THERE WERE TWO SUCCULENTS SHE PLUCKED LEAVES FROM THE ONE WITH THE LITTLE SPIKES THAT LOOKS LIKE HOLLY WAS IN HER MOUTH – SHE HAD CHEWED SOME, I DON’T …
Hi, I have just purchased a succulent from the local supermarket. It is labeled as Graptoveria ‘Moonglow’ also known as Echeveria ‘Moonglow’. I wanted …
Is my Sedum Succuent “Pink bomb” poisonous to my pets?
I grow Sedum Stonecrop succulents also known as “Pink Bomb.” I know that the squirrels eat them and the birds eat them at the end season. Can you help …
Will my succulent kill my cat?
They say curiosity kills, and I’m worried it actually might as my cat can’t resist having a go at anything even vaguely edible! Does anyone know what …
Baby had piece in mouth
Graptopetalum & Pachyphytum succulent plants. Luckily, these types of plants are not as toxic as plants in other species, but if the baby has actually …
Baby just ate a leaf
Just wondering if this is poisonous This is some type of Echeveria or Sedum, which are not known as a poisonous succulent – however, it’s not recommended …
My hand is broke out, what is this plant?
I am trying to find out if a plant in my yard is poisonous. Hi Linda, you’ve just been introduced to Poison Oak, or Rhus diversiloba, and is related …
kid just ate a leaf
Leaves are smooth, clear thin liquid inside. Light green plant, leaves have a whiter powder look. Hi Jill, without a picture I can’t definitively say …
Tree like shape with small leaves, looks like a bloated plant.
Thick, bloated trunk with many branches stemming from it. Has tiny leaves sparsely placed all over. When cut it weeps white milk like substance. Bought …
Edible Berry? Name?
Hello, So I was walking to the Nolls Surfing Competition yesterday only to pass by this sweet-tasting berry plant. For the life of me I’m having a …
rash from bush/ shrub
I live in Massachusetts and was pruning in my back yard, we have a medium-sized bush that does not bloom anything. My husband trims it every year and …
terrible rash – unknown plant
Hello, I visited a friends garden and brushed up against a plant and my arm immediately broke out into a rash. It had multiple bumps and it has been …
Unknown plant that might cause skin irritation
Encountered in a friend’s garden on 6/4/2011. No one knows what this plant is. Might cause skin irritation. Drought Smart Plants reply: When you …