Plants that kill ,what not to plant in your garden

I recently bought some seeds of an amazing looking plant VERATRUM CALIFORNICUM,it had interesting leaves and seemed a great cottage garden plant however when I looked up its cultivation I was absolutely horrified ,its not only extremely toxic to humans and animals ,so much so that even breathing the pollen can cause serious problems ,its also deadly to Bees and other insects .


(this is quite a useful database but some entries are a little bit over cautious ,in this case it is pretty accurate).

I therefore thought a short list of plants toxic to wildlife  ,pets and humans  or plants likely to cause problems in other ways such as skin blistering ,would be handy .It would be more or less impossible to grow nothing toxic in your garden and most “poisonous ” plants are pretty hard to hurt yourself with so I haven’t included  the traditional ones such as foxgloves which would require a fair bit of carelessness to cause harm to humans and are excellent bee plants .I also havent included plants so rare as to be unlikely to cause problems ,only  commonly grown plants that are a major problem for bees ,butterflies and other animals or an easily caused health  risk that has frequent cases eg plants that cause similar problems to stinging nettles.


Rhododendrons and Azaleas  ,almost all  the common species are toxic to many bee species and all rhododendrons can cause Honey to be mildly toxic to humans.Native Irish  honey bees die within hours of visiting bushes  it also kills miner bees.Most bumble bee species seem to be safe from death but may be having other problems that are not as easily observed .Where bee species are not poisoned the honey produced from too much foraging on Rhodendrons can cause problems to the hive or humans .Their leaves can also cause poisoning to pets and livestock who might ingest them ,but mostly they are included in the list because they are widely grown ,popular in garden centres and because of their catastrophic effect on Bees.

Lupins ,cause problems for bees that are still being researched ,they seem to cause a reduction in the birth rate and also cause few malkes to be produced ,a few garden lupins are probably not going to cause problems but growing  them as green manures and allowing them to flower may be a problem .

Daphne ,all Daphne plants are extremely poisonous to humans and animals  and many also contain skin irritants ,they are all brilliant bee plants and most have beautiful scents,I use them to the back of flower beds where their berries or contact with leaves or sap  wont be a hazard  

Oleander toxic to animals  and humans but also to  butterflies and bees ,usually causing complete hive death.

All  true lilies and almost anything with lily in its name are potential poison hazards , day lilies ,turks cap lilies are a major hazard  to pets just tiny amounts of Lily can harm animals and  it takes very little to cause death especially  for small dogs and cats,Lily of the Valley is poisonous to humans and pets, Its probably good to avoid low growing lilies if you have pets or have cats or other similar sized animals coming into your garden.Some lilies are also useless bee plants as they have been bred to be pollen free to avoid the problems associated with staining fro, lily pollen.Plants with Lily in their name,these are almost always poisonous,Lily of the valley ,Nile lilies etc ,but you tend to have to eat quite a bit to cause human poisoning but if you have small children or pets growing them somewhere hard to reach is probably safest ,I grow lily of the valley in a high  narrow flower bed set into a wall

Anything with Hellebore in its name is likely to be toxic and several are skin irritants but likewise many make excellent bee plants ,I grow Hellebores in wall set beds and leave them alone ,Monkshood a really beautiful tall plant is an excellent bee plant but also extremely poisonous ,one of the few garden plants to have fairly regular reports of death attached to it ,though few are from accidental eating of parts of the plant,,all parts are toxic ,many  cases are deliberate poisoning .

Aconites ,,again anything with aconite in its name is likely to be toxic and a skin irritant ,another group of plants with regular reported cases of poisoning .

Angles trumpets can cause brood death in bees .

Amaryllis ,toxic to bees and pets, also a skin irritant.

Plants that cause skin problems

Almost every plant can cause a problem for some one or other but there are a few which are a likely to cause problems to most people and these are the only ones included below


Rue,I love Rue ,its got pretty leaves and is a good bee plant ,but it has an unfortunate downside,it produces a fairly nasty  skin irritant ,contact with the plant will cause a reaction with sunlight causing at the very least itchiness but also blisters.

Giant Hogweed

deep painful and long lasting blisters and sensitivity to sunlight ,this is a very common reaction to even tiny amounts of sap




About hathawaysofhaworth

I am a Historian and author living in the north
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2 Responses to Plants that kill ,what not to plant in your garden

  1. cydira says:

    There are problems with giant hogweed as an invasive plant in my area (western NY, USA). From what I have been able to learn, the blisters from it can cause scarring and if you are exposed to too much sap, you run the risk of blindness. It’s a pretty scary thing. Some farmers in my area have had problems with livestock dying after eating some of it. It is kinda scary stuff.

    • I had heard horror stories about Hogweed but I wasnt too sure how much to put in the post ,its becoming a big problem here in the UK too ,I dont think people are educated by the govt enough on how dangerous it is to plant some things in their gardens or about how dangerous some plants are.

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