Succulents are a popular houseplant choice because they are fun, unique, and very low-maintenance. But there is often the question of are they poisonous? For anyone who has pets or children, this is an important thing to consider!
Many succulents are not poisonous. But some are considered toxic. This toxicity varies, too, between what is poisonous for humans and what is poisonous for pets. We’ll talk about some of those below. Overall, you should make sure you know what types of succulents you own. Doing this will help you be aware of what might be harmful. This is especially important if you have small children or pets. Knowing what succulents are poisonous can help you know what should definitely stay out of their reach.
In general, there are two varieties of succulents that are overarchingly poisonous. Let’s take a look at those considered toxic, as well as some other things to keep in mind when considering the toxicity of your succulents and the safety of your home.
Kalanchoe succulents are a much smaller group of succulents, with only around 150- 200 plants within the species. This succulent group contains something called cardiac glycosides. These glycosides can affect the heart and are toxic to animals. In rare cases, ingestion of Kalanchoe by animals can cause abnormal heart rhythm.
The body of the plant is toxic, but the flowers are even more so. Where Kalanchoe grow in the wild, they are very dangerous for livestock or small animals. Just around seven flowers of certain varieties can be lethal for a small calf! In the U.S., these plants are not often found in the wild, but they can present a potential hazard for house pets.
Although, typically, they will only cause salivation in your animals, gastrointestinal upset, or vomiting. They are less poisonous to humans. Although, they can cause discomfort if ingested.
Animals Safety With Kalanchoe
If your animal ingests a part of your kalanchoe plant, call your veterinarian immediately. They will be able to help you identify the next steps. You can also call the poison control center and talk with a specialist. This is the best course of action, as well, if a child ingests the succulent.
Euphorbia plants are a part of a family called Euphorbiaceae. It is actually a very large group of plants that includes poinsettias, shrubs, and trees.
About 1,200 of the 2,000 plants within this group are succulents.
Euphorbia succulents are characterized by a milky sap or latex that is inside its leaves. This sap is highly poisonous and will cause irritation or inflammation to the skin if touched. It is very bad for the eyes as well and, in rare cases, has caused blindness. Generally, it just causes redness, blurring of vision, and discomfort. The reaction of the eyes to this sap is similar to that of conjunctivitis.
Euphorbia plants release this sap from broken or cut leaves. It’s considered a defense mechanism to keep the plant safe when it is grown in the wild. To be safe, gardeners should always wear eye protection and gloves when working with the plants to avoid accidental exposure. If you are planting them outside, be conscious of where outdoor animals will be or where young children will play. Keeping them out of the way will help avoid unintentional disruption and contact.
Euphorbia Effects on Skin and Eyes
If you accidentally get Euphorbia sap on your skin, wash it with warm, soapy water. In the event that the sap becomes congealed on your skin and water or soap does not effectively remove the sap, milk is also a helpful alternative. If you get it in your eyes, rinse them as soon as possible with lukewarm water.
Children Safety With Succulents
If your child accidentally ingests a piece of succulent in your home, it is essential to determine what kind of succulent it is. (We recommend knowing the types of succulents in your home beforehand, if possible, to keep more poisonous ones out of reach of children or pets.) If your child has come in contact with the sap of a poisonous succulent, wash their skin with warm water and soap.
Call the poison control center, especially if you know that the plant they ingested is a Kalanchoe or a Euphorbia. Doing this will allow you to talk with a professional about the best next steps.
Poisonous Succulents in Your House
It is safe to have succulents in your home. Most succulents are considered non-toxic. However, it is always a good rule of thumb to know what type of succulents you are bringing home, especially if you have children or pets! As a general rule, keep plants out of the reach of children or pets who might accidentally ingest something or poke themselves on something sharp.
Other Succulent Safety
While not all succulents are technically poisonous, there are other safety considerations to be aware of. Many succulents are quite sharp, as well, and can be painful to pets or children if they poke themselves on them.
Succulents can, too, cause discomfort when eaten, even if they are not highly toxic. Many plants are this way, regardless of whether they have the poisonous label or not.
Below are just a few toxic succulents that are poisonous. You may want to stay away from them if you are trying to avoid having any toxic succulents in your home.
- Jade Plants
- Pencil Cactus
- Mother in Law’s Tongue
- String of Pearls
- Panda Plant
These are a couple of popular succulents considered highly toxic, but it is certainly not an exhaustive list!
Recognizing Toxic Succulents
If you have succulent plants but are unsure how to determine their toxicity, the internet has many resources.
For animals, the ASPCA has a comprehensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants.
For children or adults, the poison control center had an extensive list, as well, of poisonous and non-poisonous plants.
Recommendations for Non-Toxic Succulents
If you want to be extra careful about what succulents you have in your home and are only interested in purchasing non-toxic succulents, try choosing one of the below. All of these are non-toxic. You get the fun and low-maintenance benefits of a succulent, with a little extra peace of mind.
- Blue Echeveria
- Ponytail Palm
- Burro’s Tail
- Haworthia Retusa
- Mother of Pearl or “Ghost Plant”
- Hens and Chickens
- Hardy Baby Tears
- Dragon Fruit
- Mexican Rosettes
- Painted Lady
- Chinese Money Plant
- Bunny Ear Cactus
All in all, most succulents are not highly toxic. However, it is a good idea to know what type of succulents you have so that you know how to respond if they are accidentally ingested or come in contact with skin. In general, it is best to keep all plants out of reach of small children and animals, just to be safe. Even plants that are not highly toxic can cause nausea or discomfort if ingested.
For any questions or concerns about the toxicity of a plant or one of its elements, call the poison helpline at 1-(800) 222-1222. Specially trained nurses and pharmacists are available 24/7/365 to answer questions. The service is free and confidential.