Unfortunately the space available in this book can not do justice to all the poisonous plants in south Florida. I can only treat the subject in a general way, but will give information sources for those who want to do further investigation. Generally most of the poisonous plants cause problems only if they are eaten. Some produce skin irritation if they are touched. Others produce fine pollen that can result in breathing difficulties. The Mounts Horticultural Learning Center has a small area of poisonous plants that can be viewed through a protective fence. (The garden also features many educational classes and use gardens such as groundcover collection, hedge garden, native plant area, salt tolerant plants, tropical fruit and vegetable gardens). The address is 531 North Military Trail, West Palm Beach, Florida. The County Extension offices have literature on poisonous plants. Their phone numbers are in the directory.
Two good place to start are:
Medical Herbalism: A Clinical Newsletter for the Herbal Practitioner (a site that contains links to many others) at http://medherb.com/POISON.HTM and Poisonous Plants Guide, Florida Agricultural Information Retrieval System (FAIRS), USA at http://hammock.ifas.ufl.edu/txt/fairs/wg/39633.html The latter is part of the very extensive offerings of plant information from the University of Florida http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu
Cody Smith was assigned to write a 3 page report on any
horticulture topic for his Science class. He chose "Poisonous
Plants" as his subject and used our site for information.
He also recommended that we add this link so you too can get additional
Q. Is the coral plant poisonous? I have several small plants in my yard.
A. Coral plant, Jatropha multifida, is a large shrub reaching 15 feet tall. It is very drought tolerant and the flowers are somewhat showy. The plant is a member of the euphorbia family. The seeds are very toxic and the milky sap can cause a rash. Jatropha is very tough and tolerant of abuse. It just requires some sun to survive. I probably would dispose of the small plants unless you want to give one as a gift to someone you don't like.
Q. What is this ferny plant with bright red pea-like flowers that has appeared in my yard?
A. It is Glorypea rattlebox (Daubentonia punicea). This plant has escaped into the wild in certain areas of Florida. It is poisonous and dangerous for cattle or horses to eat. It is used as an ornamental in California and in parts of Florida. It makes a large shrub or small tree to 15 feet in height. Rattlebox thrives in a sunny, dry area. The flower display is good and quite continuous but I would not recommend planting it and contributing to the invasion.
Q. I grew a castor plant from a seed I got in Hawaii. It has grown nto a tree with large leaves on top that have fallen off. New small leaves are emerging from the bark. How do I care for it?
A. The castor bean plant is very poisonous and fast-growing. They are weedy and have naturalized in parts of Florida. They like good sun and full drainage. They require virtually no care and can be invasive. I would get rid of it.