From the common yew to the fast-growing leylandii, many of Britain’s favorite garden hedges are poisonous. Some, have been known for centuries to be harmful; others, such as euonymus, are relatively new to us. All can cause serious illness in children or animals if eaten.
What makes a hedge poisonous?
Most garden hedges belong to the evergreen family, Coniferae. They have smooth, waxy leaves which help them to retain water in hot weather. This means that they can also contain high levels of toxins which are released when the leaves are chewed. The sap of some hedges, such as yew and euonymus, is also very poisonous.
What are the symptoms of poisoning?
The symptoms of poisoning depend on the type of hedge and how much has been eaten. They can range from mild stomach upset to violent vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty in breathing, drowsiness, and seizures. In severe cases, it can lead to coma and death. Children are particularly at risk because they are more likely to put things in their mouths and their smaller bodies make them more vulnerable to the effects of toxins. Elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions may also be more vulnerable.
What should I do if I think my child or pet has been poisoned?
If you think your child or pet has been poisoned, contact your GP or veterinarian immediately. If they are showing any symptoms, take them along with you so that the doctor can see them straight away. If possible, take a sample of the plant material with you so that the doctor can identify it and treat it accordingly. Contact the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) on 0844 892 0111 for further advice. In a medical emergency, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.
Why Leyland Cypress Should be Avoided?
Leyland cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii) is a fast-growing, coniferous evergreen tree, often used in horticulture as a privacy screen or hedge. It is extremely popular due to its rapid growth rate, dense foliage, and tolerance to clipping. However, it has become widely reviled in recent years due to its invasive nature and destructive roots.
Leyland cypress is native to the western Himalayas but was introduced to Britain in 1824. It quickly became popular as an ornamental plant and was widely planted in gardens and parks. However, it has now spread beyond gardens and is often found growing wild in hedgerows, woodlands, and on roadsides.
Leyland cypress is classified as an invasive species in many countries due to its ability to spread rapidly and outcompete native plants. The trees can reach a height of 30m (100ft) and a width of 10m (33ft), making them the tallest and widest trees.
Garden hedges may look harmless enough, but many of them can actually be quite dangerous – especially to kids and animals who might not know any better. If you think your child or pet has ingested any part of a poisonous hedge, contact your GP or veterinarian immediately. And remember: never underestimate the power of a good fence!