We don’t normally think of having a green thumb in the desert, but it might surprise you that there are common toxic plants that grow in Las Vegas. Some plants are toxic to humans and some are toxic to animals. Las Vegas homeowners should know which plants can be a danger to people and beloved pets.
The Nightshade Family of Plants, Vegetables and Fruits
Nightshade plants contain poisons, one called solanine. While ingesting nightshade plants can be fatal, fruits and vegetables in this same classification of plant — many of which you’ll find at your local grocery store — are actually safe to eat.
This is because the amount of this toxic compound is lowered to nontoxic levels once the fruits and vegetables ripen. Still, the leaves and berries of the deadly nightshade plant are toxic and shouldn’t be consumed. (Wilson, 2018)
Potatoes, tomatoes and peppers are all toxic if you eat the leaves. They’re all members of the nightshade family, which includes a number of other agricultural crops that can cause big problems for anyone who ingests the wrong part of the plant, including the seeds and roots in some cases.
Nightshade Fruits and Vegetable Examples:
- Bell Peppers
- Hot Peppers
- Goji Berries
If you plant a fruit or vegetable garden in Las Vegas, it would be good to know which of these Nightshade fruits and vegetables could be a danger to young children or pets. (Gardener, 2017)
What Grows in the Desert?
Sago Palm Tree
One of the most toxic landscaping plants in Las Vegas is the Sago Palm, which can be especially dangerous because it is used both in outdoor landscapes and as a houseplant. Although toxic plants are not normally known for being tasty, it appears that some animals find this one delicious. All segments of the sago are poisonous to humans and animals if ingested. Sago Palm seeds are particularly toxic, producing symptoms of liver failure and intestinal distress within 12 hours of consumption.
Lantana is a popular ornamental garden shrub that is compatible with a warm climate and popular with Las Vegas homeowners.
Like poison ivy, all parts of the plant are poisonous, but it is the dark bluish/black and green berries which typically cause problems. They are quite attractive and highly toxic to children, horses, sheep, cattle, dogs, cats, and other mammals; although, birds seem to be able to eat them without ill effect. (Plant Care Today, 2020)
Lantana grows like a weed and is prolific. It should be handled with gloves and eyes protected. Even burning it can be toxic in the smoke from the fire. Handle this plant with care.
Jimsonweed is also known as Thorn Apple, Datura, Devil’s Apple, Locoweed, etc. Its toxic, mind altering properties have been known for millennia, and it is frequently abused for its hallucinogenic properties.
Dryness of mouth, nausea, vomiting are symptoms of Datura poisoning. Severe drowsiness can also lead to coma. Death can happen due to respiratory failure or heart arrythmias. (Encyclopedia of Toxicology, 2014)
How to Protect Your Loved Ones from Accidental Poisoning
The power in keeping your family safe from accidental poisoning from the most common toxic plants in Las Vegas is to educate. Print this article and identify these plants with children. As pretty as some plants can be, let them know they can make them very sick and how important it is to never touch or ingest them.
Homeowners look for plants and vegetation that can thrive in a desert environment. Being informed about toxicity is the most important thing we can do. No one wants to have to visit the ER because of an accidental exposure to a poisonous plant, especially with a child. Our Board-Certified ER Physicians are trained to work directly with the Nevada Poison Control Center to keep our families safe, informed and give them a protocol for dealing with poisonous plants, fruits and vegetables.
Nevada Poison Control: (800) 222-1222 https://www.nvpoisoncenter.org/
Gardener, The Martian. “The Most Common Toxic Plants in Las Vegas.” Gardening on Mars, 12 Aug. 2017, https://gardeningonmars.com/index.php/2015/08/10/the-most-common-toxic-plants-in-las-vegas/. https://www.healthline.com/health/most-nutritious-nightshade-plants
“Is The Lantana Plant Poisonous Or Toxic? The Answer!” Plant Care Today, 5 July 2020, https://plantcaretoday.com/lantana-plant-poisonous.html
“Datura.” Datura – an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics, Encyclopedia of Toxicology, 2014, www.sciencedirect.com/topics/immunology-and-microbiology/datura. https://www.nvpoisoncenter.org/