Colourful plants and flowers run riot in gardens and untended areas in Finland during the summer. But many of these beauties have a toxic secret: they can cause nausea, stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhoea -- perhaps even death -- if they are eaten. Yle listed 10 of the country’s most poisonous plants that families with children or pets especially should avoid.
Finnish nature – and some gardens — are filled with plants that are poisonous in varying degrees. The most poisonous plants that are commonly found in backyards include Digitalis purpurea, a member of the foxglove family, as well as the blue-flowered aconite or wolfsbane that is currently in bloom.
The most dangerous garden plant in Finland is the shrub-like English or European yew, whose needles are poisonous. Although the berries may not be toxic, the seeds are when chewed.
Even more toxic but rarer in Finland are hemlock and Cicuta virosa, which can be found in open fields, as well as Hyoscyamus niger or henbane; jimsonweed or Devil's snare, a plant of the nightshade family; oleander; the castor oil plant, which yields the lethal toxin ricin and Colchicum autumnale, commonly known as autumn crocus, meadow saffron or naked lady.
A range of unpleasant symptoms
Ingesting even the smallest quantity of any of these 10 plants can expose an individual to highly dangerous toxins.
The symptoms associated with poisoning by these plants vary depending on the toxicity of the plant and the manner in which a patient has been exposed to it – was it ingested or did it merely touch the skin?
"Symptoms may include a burning sensation in the mouth or when swallowing, increased salivation, stomach pains and vomiting. Additionally irritation caused by coming into contact with the plant will cause symptoms at the point of contact and light-sensitive plants may result in burns from the sun’s UV radiation," explained medical chief of staff Leena Soininen of the Poison Information Centre.
According to Soininen the symptoms of plant poisoning generally appear quickly.
Activated carbon for home, car and cottage first aid kits
"It you suspect that someone has consumed a poisonous plant, you should call the Poison Information Centre at 09-471977 and take activated carbon as instructed," Soininen advised.
Activated or medical carbon often prevents a patient’s organs from absorbing toxic substances. For this reason, poison control specialists recommend families, especially those with small children, to stock some in first aid kits at home, cottages and for trips.