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Poisonous Plants in England

Published on: April 16, 2019  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

Monkshood plant

What could be more enchanting than the beauty of an English garden? The British have long been celebrated for their passion for landscaping, with their lush beds of blooming shrubs and perennials. However, it is important to be aware that amidst this splendor, there exists a surprising number of plants that are not only pretty but also poisonous. Whether you are planning a visit or considering a move to England, it is crucial to know which flora to avoid, especially if you have furry companions!

Mother Nature has endowed plants with a multitude of clever ways to cause harm, whether through a simple touch or by ingesting certain parts. In order to ensure the safety of your beloved pets while they enjoy the great outdoors, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the potentially dangerous English plants. Identifying which plants are toxic does not necessarily mean you should eliminate them from your own garden shopping list altogether. Rather, it is advisable to take extra precautions, particularly if your pet has a tendency to interact with plants.

Native plants can pose a threat

If you're planning on exploring the picturesque English countryside with your furry friend, it's important to be aware of the potential dangers that lurk in the hedgerows and along the roadside. Familiarizing yourself with the rules of the road for dog walking in the UK is essential, but it's equally important to recognize the toxic plants that could pose a threat to your beloved pet. Among the many hazardous plants in the UK, here are the top five that you need to watch out for:

  1. Monkshood, also called wolfsbane – looks much like highly-prized delphinium (which is also somewhat toxic), but this is one of the most poisonous plants anywhere.
  2. Foxglove – the digitalis derived from this plant can save lives of certain heart patients, but ingesting the plant can cause heart damage instead (amongst other unpleasant symptoms).
  3. Cuckoo pint (also known as Arum maculatum or lords-and-ladies) – those pretty red berries can cause mouth pain and swelling, breathing difficulty, and stomach distress.
  4. Deadly nightshade – this infamous poisoner can cause convulsions and hallucinations. It is most often found in southern, eastern, and central England.
  5. Poison hemlock – yep, the same one Socrates drank. It’s technically not native to the UK, but like many plants it has been accidentally introduced and now thrives in moist areas.

If you're making the journey from the United States to England, chances are you're already familiar with some of the plants mentioned above. In fact, many of the names on your new garden "watch list" may ring a bell too. And let me tell you, it's quite an extensive list! According to the Royal Horticultural Society, there are over 130 potentially poisonous garden plants in the UK. But here's the thing - there are some things you may not know about these plants...

  • Dogs can be poisoned by eating spring bulbs such as daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips.
  • That sweet-smelling lily-of-the-valley you love is toxic to both cats and dogs.
  • Lilies are especially lethal to cats – not only lily-of-the-valley but Lilium (stargazer, tiger lilies, etc.), day lilies, and autumn crocus. Just a bit of a flower petal or a bit of pollen brushed onto fur and then licked off is all it takes.

Where to learn more

Discovering reliable sources of information is crucial, whether you're already settled in your new English home or just starting your journey. By consulting these resources, you'll gain valuable knowledge on identifying the most common and troublesome plants, as well as a deeper understanding of their potential dangers. While most toxic plants are not fatal, it's important to note that even mild symptoms like an upset stomach or diarrhea are not something any pet owner wants their cherished furry companion to experience.

Another great source of local information is your veterinarian. When you schedule a welcome visit for your pet after you have relocated, make a note to ask the vet about potentially poisonous plants that may be growing wild or in gardens nearby. 

*Photo by Josie Weiss on Unsplash

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