‘Can be fatal’: The most dangerous plants found in gardens – ‘act quickly’

Carol Klein plants Allium bulbs in her garden

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With over 130 poisonous plant species in the UK, some of which are fatal when ingested or simply touched, according to experts as The Greenhouse People. They have shared how important it is for gardeners to keep their wits about them and take care to identify and remove hazardous plants. The gardening experts have revealed which common garden plants are the most dangerous and how to safely remove them.

Monkshood

Monkshood, or wolfsbane as it’s otherwise known, is a fairly common plant across the UK. But many may not know just how deadly this unassuming plant is.

Just touching this plant, especially its roots, is enough to poison humans.

The garden experts explained: “Its true toxicity lies in its seeds which when ingested, can be fatal, as was demonstrated during a murder trial back in 2008.

“If you spot monkshood’s easily recognisable hooded violet stems growing in your garden, be sure to act quickly.”

Take care to wear thick gardening gloves and long sleeves when handling the plant and remove all roots with a fork. 

Alternatively, gardeners can call a professional gardener to remove it for them.

Foxglove

Foxgloves are a common sight throughout English gardens thanks to their height and range of bright colours. 

However, these popular plants are anything but joyful.

The experts said: ‘Many simply don’t realise that all parts of the plant are poisonous – touching the plant can cause skin irritations. 

“Ingesting the plant can cause extreme reactions such as nausea, diarrhoea, and even kidney and heart failure.”

To get rid of foxgloves from the garden, cut down the stalks to ground level and dig up all the roots. 

Gardeners will need to be careful to avoid shaking out seeds from the bell-shaped flower to avoid future regrowth.

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Lily of the valley

From its adorable tiny bell-shaped flowers to its sweet smell, gardeners would be forgiven for not knowing lily of the valley is one of the UK’s more toxic plants. 

The gardening experts said: “While safe to touch, this flower should never be eaten as it causes vomiting and in extreme cases, has been known to cause a fatal irregular heartbeat.

“To remove lily of the valley, you’ll not only have to dig up the plant, but you’ll also need to smooth the roots to prevent regrowth.”

To do so, lay down some tarp or leftover cardboard first as this will block aeration to the roots and stop the plant from spreading.

Angel’s trumpet

This plant is anything but angelic. 

Also known (more appropriately) as Devil’s Breath, this plant has toxic alkaloids that can cause hallucinations, paralysis and even death.

The experts said: “Native to Brazil, you’ll most commonly find angel’s trumpet planted in pots in UK gardens, making it easy to remove should you decide to.

“However, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands should you come into contact with its petals.”

Above all, gardeners must avoid sniffing the plant directly.

Poison hemlock

Though the clue is in the name, poison hemlock is often mistaken for its harmless lookalike, cow parsley, which makes it even more dangerous for those not paying attention.

The gardening experts said: “Just eating a small amount can trigger lung paralysis and may burn the skin when touched.

“To correctly identify this plant, look to the leaves and stalk – poison hemlock has distinctive purple splotches on the stalk while the leaves appear waxier and more feathered.”

Luckily, this plant is unlikely to appear in most gardens, but those with acidic soils and hard landscaping should keep an eye out for this invasive species.

Gardeners should make sure to always wear protective clothing when dealing with hazardous plants. 

The plant can be uprooted using a fork or spade and then immediately bag the debris.

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