Poisons lurking in your backyard   Leave a comment

Poisons lurk in places you don’t always suspect. As residents of Florida, I suspect most pet owners have heard of the Bufo, or Cane Toad, which is notorious for poisoning pets.  However, there are many other potential toxins in our environment.

One group of toxins that I want to bring to my readers’ attention is one that pet owners seldom think, lurking in their own backyards. Plants…yes, plants. Many of the trees, vines and shrubs that we plant and cultivate and even those that grow naturally in our yards have the potential to be rather harmful to our pets.

Lady of the Night

My poison plant de jour is the Lady of the Night plant.  This plant has several names including Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, Kiss-Me-Quick, Morning-Noon-and-Night, Fransiscan Rain Tree. This plant is popular due to its fragrant and beautiful flowers, however it also has the potential to be quite toxic. If the foliage or leaves of this plant are ingested, it is likely that your pet will experience seizures that last for several days or quite possible the effects can be fatal.



 Jessamine is another common plant that has the potential to cause serious toxicity with signs and symptoms similar to Lady of the Night. 

Many other plants are toxic with most causing moderate to severe gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and / or diarrhea. Plants such as Holly, Pokeweed, Kalanchoe and Oleander should be avoided for this reason.  

We recently had a case of severe toxicity in our hospital. In our attempt to isolate the toxin in the owner’s yard, we identified Lady of the Night, Belladona (aka St Joseph’s Lilly), Begonia, Branching and California Ivy,  Kalanchoe, Snake Lilly, and Tree Philodendron. Each of these, growing in the yard, has a toxic potential of which the owner was unaware.  

Poisonous Plants of the Southern United States


I would suggest you take an inventory of your landscape. One of my preferred references for toxic plants in this area is Poisonous Plants of the Southeastern United States.

 The ASPCA Database  also has an extensive list of potentially poisonous plants.




Are you growing toxic plants in your own backyard??

Dr. Ronald Ball is a veterinarian in practice with Animal Care Extraordinaire in Stuart and Jensen Beach, FL. To learn more about the hospital you may visit http://www.acevets.com/ or call 772-287-2513


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