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There are many things that can be found growing in woods and gardens that if ingested could cause poisoning in children and adults. Care needs to be taken with children as they often put things in their mouths, swallowing some types of plant or fungi could result in poisoning. This is a rare but a serious condition and different things will cause different problems:

Eating even small amounts of foxglove can cause nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps and large amounts are potentially fatal. Foxglove is also known as foxglove, dead men's bells, dog's finger, fairy fingers, fairy gloves, lion's mouth and many other names.  During digestion, toxins are produced that directly affect the heart muscles. It causes the heart to change, then a heart attack as the heart slows. Eating Foxglove also causes vomiting which will expel the cardiac poisons before they can do serious harm.

If laburnum seeds are eaten it can cause nausea and vomiting. Higher doses can produce intense sleepiness, seizures, coma, slight frothing at the mouth and unequally dilated pupils.    These seeds are found on laburnum trees which are a beautiful yellow flowering tree also known as common laburnum or golden chain. Other parts of the tree are poisonous but the seeds are the real problem as children confuse them with pea pods and eat the contents.

Some mushrooms and fungi can cause nausea, vomiting and sometimes hallucinations.   Death cap mushrooms cause vomiting and severe watery diarrhoea between 6 and 12 hours after ingestion and can be fatal.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cramping abdominal pains
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures
  • Impaired consciousness.

If you suspect this type of poisoning, try to identify what the poisonous plant is and what part was eaten. You could take photos with your phone so that the emergency services and doctors can easily see what it is and then take the appropriate action. Take a sample of the plant or fungi and place in a plastic bag to the doctor or hospital.

They will need reassuring and if you are helping a child they may be upset or scared about getting into trouble which may cause them to give incorrect information. Tell them to try and say what they have eaten and how much and try to gain their trust.

You need to get immediate medical advice from your doctor or calling the emergency medical services.

If the casualty becomes unconscious:

  • Open the airway using the head tilt/chin lift and check breathing
  • Be prepared to give chest compressions and rescue breaths if necessary
  • Place them into the recovery position if the casualty is unconscious but breathing normally. Dial 999 for an ambulance and do not induce vomiting.

Prevention is the best action, so try to know what is in gardens to ensure that you do not have plants that can harm and if you have fungi or mushrooms, remove them wearing gloves and dispose of carefully. If in doubt get advice. If you are collecting plants or fungi to eat, make sure you know exactly what you are doing otherwise you may get poisoned.

Finally, your pet can also be affected by poisonous plants and fungi, so learn more about what is in your garden to keep the whole family safe.