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Dangerous plants

Dangerous plants

picture of giant hogweed

We are lucky in the UK that we have few dangerous plants.  Most plants are harmless; however, some do sting, scratch or are poisonous.

Keep your family safe by reading the guide to plant hazards on the NHS website.

See our pointers below:

Giant hogweed

Giant hogweed can be a big danger; causing severe, painful burns and making your skin sun-sensitive if brushed against. It can grow up to 5m tall, often along footpaths and riverbanks.

What to do: If you come into contact with this plant, cover the affected area and wash it with soap and water. The blisters heal very slowly and can cause a skin rash which flares up in sunlight. Always visit your GP if you feel unwell after contact with giant hogweed.

Stinging nettles

Stinging nettle leaves have tiny needle-like hairs which, when knocked against, break off into your skin and sting you, causing a burning sensation, itch and rash.

What to do: If you get stung by a nettle, look out for a nearby dock leaf to rub on the rash, which should neutralise the sting and cool down the skin.

Rose thorns

Thorny plants such as roses, holly, blackberry bushes and brambles can cause infections or other problems if the thorns become implanted in your skin.

What to do: Remove thorns with tweezers; sometimes easier after soaking the area in warm water for a few minutes.

Poisonous plants

Most British plants are harmless, but some are potentially toxic, either by making you ill after eating them or giving you a skin rash after touching them.

Please see below a list of some of the UK’s potentially poisonous plants:
• Yew
• Chrysanthemums
• Deadline nightshade
• Snowdrops
• Mistletoe
• Daffodil bulbs (these look very much like onions!)
• Certain types of mushrooms
• Certain berries

What to do: Remind children not to eat anything from the garden, unless you’ve said it’s OK.

It’s important to immediately get anyone who shows any signs of tummy ache, vomiting, rashes or diarrhoea after playing outside to the nearest A&E department, preferably with a sample of what they have eaten.

Poison ivy

Poison ivy causes a painful, itchy, blistery rash on your skin on contact. We don’t have poison ivy in the UK; however, English ivy, whilst not harmful, should still be handled with care, as its sap can be irritating to those with sensitive skin.

You can also visit The Royal Horticultural Society website for advice on how to keep safe from potentially harmful garden plants.