I-Team: Foxglove, Other Popular Plants Could Be Toxic

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the entire plant is considered poisonous, and eating enough of it can be fatal

By Lynda Baquero
|  Wednesday, Jun 20, 2012  |  Updated 6:53 AM EDT
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Consumer Reporter Lynda Baquero investigates popular garden flowers available in nurseries in our area right now that could be poisonous to children and animals.

NBC New York

Consumer Reporter Lynda Baquero investigates popular garden flowers available in nurseries in our area right now that could be poisonous to children and animals.

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Foxgloves are popular plants, sold at many nurseries and major retailers in our area. The tall perennials are full of white and purple flowers and even have some medicinal properties -- but they're also poisonous.

The foxglove was used in the late 1700s to treat congestive heart failure, according to Michael Balick, the head of the Institute of Economic Botany at New York Botanical Garden. But as is often the case with potent plants, it can also be toxic.

If a person "sees a little bite mark in the leaf, you need to worry," said Balick.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the entire plant is considered poisonous, and eating enough of it can be fatal. In small doses, the plant can cause an upset stomach.

Foxglove isn’t the only plant that's of concern. Daffodils are also toxic, and so are peace lilies and philodendron.

Balick says when those plants “get into the tongue or mucus membranes of the mouth, they can cause it to swell and potentially cut off breathing."

Since there usually aren’t any warning labels on these plants, customers often have no idea of the potential danger.

Worried consumers are spreading warnings about foxglove online. But at the Home Depot in West Nyack, the News 4 I-Team saw the foxglove being sold with no warning label.

When asked about it, a communications representative for the company sent NBC 4 New York images of a new label that’s rolling out in Home Depot stores.

In small print at the bottom, there’s a warning for consumers that the plant is “not for human or animal consumption."

If you, your child, or your pet accidentally eat part of a foxglove, Balick says you should immediately call Poison Control.

To find out which plants are poisonous, you can check “The Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants” published by Michael Balick and the New York Botanical Garden.

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