After seeing the muscari eaten, and some fig twigs eaten, I've been thinking about what to plant to avoid deer / rabbit / vole damage.  They don't touch Helleborus or Narcissus or Laburnum.

Which led me to think about poisonous plants.  Turns out, a lot of what I grow is poisonous.  Rhubarb leaves.  Tomato and potato leaves.  The above mentioned Helleborus, Narcissus, and Laburnum.

Add to that, I put in some Lily of the Valley last weekend, also on them list.

Top 10 Poisonous plants

Wikipedia list of Poisonous plants.

Aggie Horticulture.

I also planted Anemones last fall, now showing green leaves.  We already have daphnes, rhododendrons, cherries, lupines, oleander...  lots of toxic plants.

Books-

Is that cat dead?

Wicked Plants.  The weed that killed lincoln's mother.

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Replies to This Discussion

Excellent reference page. Do you put pig wire around your young trees to keep the deer away from the bark. My family used it and grandma planted sweet peas or other vining plants to hide the wire. I wonder if poisonous plants would help for your trees. Interplanting sounds good too. That will work well with your raised boxes. Oh! I envy you, we still have snow on the ground and expect two more inches in the next few hours. Happy gardening. 

Pig Wire

I'm using chicken wire which I think will work.  Only for trees that I think are susceptible, or ones that I feel especially concerned about.  I'm not too worried about it.  It's about learning to live with nature.

It did annoy me that, after reading that deer avoid muscari and figs, that the muscari and figs are especially targeted.  That might be rabbits, or voles.  I don't like muscari all that much, but the figs are another story.  I used a tree wrap for trunks on some, and chicken wire for the smallest.  They don't seem bothered since then.

For raised beds, I built them with chicken wire bottoms, to keep moles and other large tunneling mammals out.  

Hellebores are not touched by the animals at all.  

Reading about poisonous plants, there is more folklore than real info.  Laburnum is supposedly toxic throughout the plant.  The agent is the alkaloid cystine.  Then I read that laburnum is no more toxic than tobacco.  The cystine might be a bitter alkaloid that serves as taste deterrent.  They make a very pretty tree.  I planted seeds along the edge of one raised bed, thinking if they grow, it's a source of new trees.  If not, nothing lost.

Interplanting is my middle name!  Nothing seems to eat alliums, mints, oregano, thyme, sage, so there will be more of those.

I would go crazy if not able to garden now.  If I lived in Spokane, a greenhouse would be needed.  Every window sill full of plants!

Thanks for the references.  I learned something new about food.  Looks like I'll have to be careful about cooking lima and kidney beans.  I'll try to remember to discard the water after soaking, and maybe after cooking.

I'll review the other references later.

Spud, it's an interesting list.  On the one hand, who knew so many plants were toxic?  On the other, it's good to have perspective.  After all, how many people have we ever heard of who were poisoned by undercooked beans?  

I knew someone who ate a daffodil bulb on a dare.  He survived.   But who knows, maybe it was a nontoxic cultivar.

My older brother liked experimenting on me when I was small.  He fed me asparagus berries to see what would happen.  Nothing happened, as far as I know.

One of the books talks about laburnum, similarly.  Many kids have been taken to the hospital after eating laburnum beans, and reports of actual illness are rare.  Somewhere I read there was no proven report, but I can't reference that.

I think a lot of the poisons are evolved in a 2-step process to protect the plants.  First step is the substance's bitter taste is a deterrent to eating more.  The second step is toxic effect, so that the animal that eats the plant associates the bitter taste with the actual plant.  The effect would need to be fairly fast for the animal to make that association.  

The usual role of berries is for animals to eat them, then transport the berries to another place and "plant' them along with some fertilizer, as they come out of the other end of the animal.  A purgative effect might speed the process so the seed isn't digested.

All very interesting.

Yes, Sentient, we don't hear about plants poisoning people very often, but it probably happens  more than we hear about because most people that get sick don't know enough to connect their sickness with something they ate.

In any case, I'm willing to spend a fair amount of time and effort to avoid getting sick.  My old bod causes me unacceptable amounts of pain despite all I can do to keep it healthy.

Sounds like you had a mean brother.  I'm reminded of my brother that knew a lot about mushrooms.  He never tried unsafe things on others, but he sometimes did on himself.  He got sick several times by eating a questionable mushroom.  He even had to go to the hospital once for eating some past-their-prime mushrooms that were safe when young, but were poisonous when old.

My cats keep eating the ficas tree in the living room, and then puking up the leaves a few minutes later.  We had some cut yellow flowers in a vase that they kept eating and puking up too.  The other day I was laying on the couch, and one of them came up to me and tapped me on the arm with his paw over and over while meowing - very out of character and strange behavior for him.  After reading this, I'm now thinking he was trying to let me know that he had poisoned himself.  He's fine now, but you would think that they would figure it out after a few experiences.  Dumb cats.

Cats like to eat things that make them vomit.  It's a cat hobby.

Do you know what the flowers were?  It might have been the flower.  Then again, a lot of flowers now come from the toxic chemical forests of Equador.   SO maybe it's not the flowers, it's what was sprayed on them?

ficus can cause vomiting in cats.  here.

It was some random grocery store arrangement my girlfriend bought - I don't know the varieties but I'm guessing it had Chrysanthemum in it, which I noticed in the top 10 list in your link.

This is a beautiful tree! Is it pretty all year long? 

laburnum

Your link points out that some people like to make laburnum tunnels.  I think those are very beautiful.  The tree that I bought last summer looks like it will bloom this year.  I collected seeds from it and took cuttings.  If those grow, maybe I can make a tunnel.....  if they grow.  I'm always collecting seeds and trying to start cuttings.  If they grow, nice, if not, no loss.

The flower is like a wisteria, but instead of lavender it's brilliant yellow.  Laburnums are a legume.  I don't know if they fix nitrogen.  That would be an extra bonus.

The leaves are like clover leaves.  I don't know yet if I think they are pretty all year.  Mine is at that "bought on sale at Home Depot at end of year" stage, which means it was probably a reject and sat on the lot too long.  Just the kind of challenge I appreciate.  This year, with  mulch, watering, corrective pruning, maybe it will fill out and look better.

The tunnels look like walking through a sunrise. One photo had a blue plant hedge growing the full length of the tunnel ... so pretty. 

The seeds look easy to handle; I hope they can flourish and give you a tunnel. I know you will restore your plant to full vigor. Please keep your camera handy as it grows.  

Future, interesting story of your cat. Is there a way to put the eating time and sick time closer together so it an make the connection? Maybe put the cat in isolation with some leaves and wait for the whole cycle to complete itself?

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