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Deck The Halls (with poison)

Poinsettias in GreenhouseDeck the halls with boughs of holly. And poinsettias, amaryllis, mistletoe, and pepper plants. Real plants add a festive atmosphere to the holidays and make wonderful gifts. They look great. Good enough to, well, eat.

Don't do it. And tell your kids not to eat them. That's the problem with holidays. We bring the plants indoors, within reach of your children and pets and we make them look good enough to eat.

Lots of plants are poisonous. But, they aren't indoors. Lots of houseplants are poisonous but they don't look that tempting. Let's face it, whoever took a bite of a dieffenbachia because it looked tasty?

The excitement and stresses of the season can induce even the quietest pet or most mindful child into tasting an interesting new berry the coffee table. And, while most of these plants will not kill an adult if you ate mouthful, the symptoms can be more severe in children and pets.

Here is a short rundown on our most notorious season spoilers.

When forcing bulbs you might keep them in a dark, cool place for a while. Right there in the lower drawer of the refrigerator is a good place. Right next to the cheese sticks and the blueberries. Most bulbs are toxic and can cause illness or death.

Poinsettia - at one time they were reported to be toxic, but more recent studies have shown them to be harmless. They still get the bad press, though, when we should be worried about others (more on poinsettia).

Mistletoe - the berries, leaves, and stems can all cause gastric upset, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Holly - berries and possibly the leaves can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other bad things.

AmaryllisYew - same as holly (more on holiday plants).

Cyclamen - tuberous roots can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

Paperwhites, Amaryllis - eating the bulbs can be problematic (see above) but the entire rest of the plant can cause nausea, persitent vomiting and diarrhea (more on amaryllis, paperwhite).

Christmas Pepper Plant - the fruit looks delicious and actually is food, but causes much mouth and throat pain and severe eye and skin irritation.

Kalanchoe - nausea, vomiting, heart damage (more on kalanchoe).

Emily: My Iguana is eating my snake plant.

Dear Emily: I was wondering will snake plants harm my iguana if he eats it ?

A: We do get a lot of poison plant questions.

Here are our favorite websites for poison plants:
http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/index.html http://www.vth.colostate.edu/poisonous_plants/report/search.cfm

As for the iguana, I'm afraid you will have to go to www.EmiliGuana.com