While most people know that there are certain plants in the wild that they should not eat or touch, many do not know that there are some plants in their own backyards that could be just as deadly. Although plants and flowers bring beauty to a homeowner's lawn, some landscape plants are pretty to look at, but the leaves or berries of these colorful beauties can be poisonous.
The elephant plant (Colocasia esculenta) is a herbaceous perennial that grows to about 8 feet in height and has an 8 foot spread. Sometimes known as the taro plant, it has large, green, heart-shaped leaves that are thought to resemble the ears of an elephant. These leaves can grow 2 to 3 feet in length and are 1 to 2 feet wide. The elephant plant prefers a moist, slightly acidic soil and enjoys partial shade. Interestingly, this plant is edible when it is cooked, but can cause stomach issues if ingested when it is raw. The sap may also cause rashes or a burning sensation to sensitive skin. The elephant plant is recommended for USDA Zones 8 to 11.
Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) is a biennial plant that grows from 2 to 4 feet in height and produces rows of bell-shaped flowers of purple to purplish-pink on a spike that blooms from June through September. It prefers a dry sandy soil that is nitrogen-rich and likes partial sun or full shade. Foxglove is prized as the source of digitalis, a medication prescribed by cardiologists that helps regulate the heart. The leaves of this plant are extremely poisonous, however, and their ingestion can be fatal. Symptoms to watch for include mental confusion, digestive upset and irregular pulse or heartbeats. Foxglove is recommended for USDA Zones 3 to 9.
Lantana (Lantana camara) is a herbaceous perennial shrub that grows from 1 to 4 feet in height and has a 2 to 8 foot spread. It produces small clusters of tiny flowers that come in a variety of colors including yellow, pink, orange and orange-red. Lantana prefers full sun and sandy or loam soil, however, it is a hardy plant that will grow almost anywhere as long as it has well-drained soil. It is a favorite for hummingbirds, but its green berries are toxic to both humans and animals. Ingestion of the berries can affect the respiratory and nervous system as wells as damage the heart and kidneys. Lantana is recommended for USDA Zones 8 to 11.