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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Red Bird of Paradise Is Poisonous but….

Q. You had a post on your blog about red bird of paradise. posting on my blog
Will this bush hurt my dog?  I don't think she would grab the flowers.  I want to grow a big bush in this area of my back yard as my deceased husband loved the flowers.  I heard the bush is poisonous.
Flower of the red bird of paradise
A. Like so many plants, the dose makes the poison. Yes, this plant if it is taken in large quantities would be poisonous to dogs, cats, humans, etc.
However, I would point out to you that this plant is also sold, the leaves and stems primarily, for Ayurvedic medicine and has been found by researchers to have antiulcer and anti-inflammatory properties.
Please keep in mind that about 80% of all landscape plants are poisonous. Some are more poisonous than others. Take as examples oleander and the castor bean plant.
Many of our houseplants are also poisonous such as mother-in-law's tongue or snake plant and many others.
All I can tell you that in small quantities I would not be too concerned. However if an animal consumed a lot of the plant it might cause harm or worse.
My former floriculture teacher once went on television around Christmas time and demonstrated by eating the leaves of Poinsettia that it is not poisonous in small quantities. The white milky latex found in the plant may cause some burning but it does not kill you as the press has portrayed.
I will not tell you that it is non-toxic and not to have some concern about it but on the toxicity list I would probably put it as mildly toxic and keep your pets away from it if they tend to chew on things. I would also not use the flowers as a garnish for a meal.

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