The Beautiful Plant You Should Absolutely Never Add To Your Garden

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The Beautiful Plant You Should Absolutely Never Add To Your Garden

The Beautiful Plant You Should Absolutely Never Add To Your Garden

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One of the true delights of warmer weather is the beautiful blooms that sprout up from the earth. But some of those bright, bold colors in your garden can be both breathtaking and deadly. That’s why it’s important to know how the plants you place in your garden can impact humans and wildlife, and what plants to avoid. Delphiniums are one flower you definitely don’t want on your property. This towering purple- and blue-petaled plant sprouts up during the summer and makes a gorgeous but dangerous addition to your garden. 

That’s because delphinium, also known as larkspur, is considered to be extremely toxic. Consumption of the plant or its seeds can lead to intense nausea and muscle spasms. In worst-case scenarios, it can even cause paralysis or death. This makes it very hazardous to have in areas where livestock graze, pets roam, and children play. Delphinium is highly potent. All it takes is 2 milligrams to take a human’s life. So it’s best to leave this out of your garden or indoor bouquets if you have kids or pets.

Why delphinium is so poisonous

Row of bright delphinium flowers

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Every part of the delphinium plant is poisonous, from roots to seeds and leaves to buds. This is because it contains high concentrations of diterpenoid alkaloids, which cause neurotoxicity in animals and humans by shutting down nerves from communicating with the brain and muscles. This can lead to respiratory shutdown, bloating, muscle paralysis, and, in some cases, death. The plant, which can grow up to 6 feet tall, is most toxic as a seed and in its early stages of growth. 

Delphinium grows wild in places like Wyoming, New Mexico, and Colorado and is responsible for killing many cattle in western states who find it particularly tasty. Signs of delphinium or larkspur poisoning include heavy salivating, vomiting, nervousness, weakness, twitching, over-excitement, and a rapid pulse. Dogs may experience constipation, dehydration, colic, seizures, stiffness, or cardiac arrest. If you suspect that your pet or child has eaten some delphinium, you should immediately take them to a vet or the hospital even if symptoms aren’t present. 

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.