Ornamental pepper plants are members of the Solanaceous family, which includes vegetable plants such as potato, pepper and eggplant. While the fruit is the most commonly consumed portion of these plants, the green leaves on Solanaceous plants are toxic to animals and humans.
Ornamental pepper plants also are known as Jerusalem cherry, natal cherry and winter cherry, and they have the potential to cause symptoms of plant poisoning in humans. Other poisonous members of this family include nightshade and Jimsonweed. Eating the green leaves may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea and diarrhea in humans. Consuming the fruit of ornamental pepper plants will not cause poisoning symptoms in humans.
Ornamental pepper plants are toxic to cats, dogs and horses, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Consuming any portion of these plants often will cause stomach ulcers, stomach pain, depression, seizures, difficulty breathing and shock in animals.
Humans and animals that experience adverse effects from ingesting ornamental pepper plants should seek medical treatment from a doctor or veterinarian. Any plant can cause allergic reactions in humans and animals. Severe allergic reactions include hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, swelling of the tongue and wheezing.