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Hedges have always been part of our cultural space, be it as a boundary for fields and vegetable gardens, as a decorative frame for ornamental gardens, as natural privacy and noise protection for our living environment, or as an enriching habitat for numerous animal species. But especially when hedges are easily accessible to people, especially children, and also animals as part of domestic outdoor facilities, one question should never be ignored when creating hedge plants: the question of whether the shrubs used are poisonous or not. Because it is too easy for the green enrichment of one's own environment to become a danger for the beloved pet or even one's own child. Here you can find out which of the shrubs used in hedges are poisonous.
Toxic is not the same as toxic
When it comes to the question of the toxicity of shrubs, the obvious question arises as to how poisonous the respective plant is. Is only the consumption of large amounts of their fruit critical or does the adverse effect already occur when the skin comes into contact with the plant sap? But even in order to be able to answer this question at all, a second question must be asked - namely, for whom the hedge plants under consideration are poisonous. Because what can be at most unpleasant for adults, for example, can already have critical or even life-threatening effects on small children. Therefore, the consideration of the poisonous hedge plants can only be done with a differentiation of the degree of toxicity and the living beings affected.
Typical but poisonous hedge shrubs
- short description: fast-growing, evergreen bush or small tree
- Botanical: Buxus sempervirens
- Contained Poison: alkaloid cyclobuxin D
- Toxic components: all plant components
- Toxic to: Generally toxic for animals and humans, but due to the strong bitterness of the plant components, it is only dangerous for people who have already been injured, or for infants and small children in the event of accidental consumption or contact
- Follow: skin irritation with intensive contact with the juice; Excessive consumption causes vomiting and cramps, even death from cardiac and respiratory paralysis
- short description: solitary, densely growing coniferous tree that forms an almost impenetrable network when used in hedges
- Botanical: Taxus baccata
- Contained Poison: Taxin B (especially European yew), paclitaxel (especially Pacific yew), ecdysterone (all yews, hormone-like substance that induces metamorphosis in molting animals and can have significant effects on the organism in mammals)
- Toxic components: bark, needles, seeds, oil of the needles
- Toxic to: Humans and animals, deadly effects on adults from as little as 50 to 100 grams of yew needles, correspondingly earlier on small children
- Follow: vomiting, dizziness, poor circulation, unconsciousness; Skin irritations from pure contact with oil or plant sap
danger: Deaths from poisoning have been documented for the yew both for people and for cattle and horses. The significant impact on large organisms illustrates the intensity of the toxins contained.
notice: The pulp of the yew is non-toxic and is even classified as edible by various people. However, since the seeds themselves are highly toxic, children should never have contact with the yew berries unsupervised. Human consumption of the pulp is generally not recommended, as there is a high risk of damaging the seeds when separating the seeds and flesh and thus transferring toxic components.
- short description: up to two meters high, sprawling solitary shrub with bright yellow butterflies
- Botanical: Genista
- Contained Poison: sparteine
- Toxic components: seeds, leaves
- Toxic to: Humans and animals, symptoms of poisoning are known in the animal kingdom from birds to horses and cows
- Follow: Nausea, stomach and intestinal problems, circulatory problems, increased urination
notice: Since the broom toxin leads to increased activity of the uterus in addition to the effects described, pregnant women in particular should avoid intensive contact with this representative of the hedge shrubs. Otherwise there is an increased risk of premature birth or miscarriage.
Mean shower of gold
- short description: sprawling single shrub up to six meters high and up to 30 centimeters long, intense yellow flower umbels
- Botanical: Laburnum anagyroides
- Contained Poison: Alkaloid cytisine, laburamine, laburnine and N-methylcytisine
- Toxic components: Entire plant with all components, still toxic even when dried, highest toxic content in seeds
- Toxic to: biologically harmful for humans and animals, but particularly critical for small children because of the seeds and flowers that invite them to play and the components that are easy to swallow, symptoms of poisoning can be seen from as little as 2 to 3 seeds
- Follow: Nausea, prolonged and sometimes bloody vomiting, burning sensation in the mouth and throat, dizziness, circulatory problems
- short description: Shrub up to three meters tall with white flowers followed by black, pea-sized berries that remain on the bush in winter
- Botanical: Ligustrum
- Contained Poison: not clearly clarified, often referred to as ligustron
- Toxic components: Bark, leaves, berries, skin irritation already evident in the case of berries, especially if they come into contact with the juice
- Toxic to: people and especially small children, pets
- Follow: vomiting and diarrhea, headache
- short description: bush up to four meters high, dark green coloured, elongated leaves, white fragrant flowers, later racemes up to 10 centimeters long with dark, reddish-black berries
- botanical: Prunus laurocerasus
- Contained Poison: hydrocyanic glycosides
- Toxic components: Leaves and seeds, pulp on the other hand almost non-toxic
- Toxic to: theoretically humans and animals, but in practice usually only occurs when the seeds are chewed, therefore primarily dangerous for small children, but even then, due to the small amount of contact, rarely significant impairments
- Follow: nausea and vomiting, irritation of the oral cavity, stomach and intestines; in the case of intensive poisoning, theoretically even paralysis of the respiratory center with fatal consequences
- short description: One to two meter tall shrub with pink, bell-shaped flowers and later white, round, fleshy berries
- Botanical: Symphoricarpos
- Contained Poison: Saponins, as well as active ingredients of a toxic nature that have not yet been precisely identified
- Toxic components: Berry
- Toxic to: primarily humans, but from a practical point of view mainly small children because of the play value of the berries (e.g. by crushing the berries, which are then often loudly popping)
- Follow: inflammatory skin reactions upon contact with the berry juice, nausea and vomiting upon swallowing, and diarrhea; However, symptoms of poisoning only occur in larger quantities, 3 to 4 berries, usually without any significant effects
- short description: Shrub or tree up to 10 meters tall, evergreen, glossy and serrate leaves, characteristic umbels of bright light red berries
- Botanical: ilex
- Contained Poison: Urolic acid and polyphenols
- Toxic components: berries and leaves
- Toxic to: Humans and mammals, symptoms of poisoning have been documented in numerous pets and farm animals, symptoms can already be seen in small children from one or two berries, from about 10 berries danger to life!
- Follow: Vomiting, stomach and intestinal problems, diarrhoea, some damage to the heart and circulatory system
- short description: Shrub with a columnar to cylindrical habit, up to 12 meters high, coniferous plant with inconspicuous flowers and dark bluish to black berries (botanically actually cones)
- Botanical: Juniperus
- Contained Poison: do not contain directly toxic substances, but harmful effects in case of prolonged and intensive contact
- Toxic components: berries and oil of the needles
- Toxic to: People with kidney damage, young children and infants
- Follow: further damage to the kidneys if the berries are consumed over a longer period of time, skin irritation if the oil is used undiluted
- short description: evergreen hedge plants or trees, small lenticular leaves, bright red berries along the branches, classic as ground cover, tall habit but also popular for hedges
- Botanical: cotoneaster
- Contained Poison: prunasin, glycoside amygdalin
- Toxic components: bark, flowers, leaves, berries
- Toxic to: already weakened people, especially small children, harmful effects only in quantities of about 10 berries and more, therefore usually only dangerous for children without parental supervision
- Follow: Nausea, diarrhea (vomiting), throat irritation, swelling of the lips and mouth
notice: Please note that this article is by no means a substitute for a doctor's visit. There is no guarantee of the correctness of medical statements.
Detailed information on first aid in the event of poisoning and important information on the poison control centers can be found here.