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Poison plants poison plants.

Dubai "Some plants, trees or shrubs found in and around Dubai Silicon Oasis contain toxins that may harm animals and small children."

This message, posted on community website www.siliconoasis.org, may not be an isolated warning. "Parts of ornamental plants or flowers in your yard may also contain deadly poison. It is easy to miss the toxic qualities of plants, especially if the plant is common and popular," the message continued.

Anne Love, author of a book titled Gardening in Oman and UAE, said these toxic plants are commonly grown in homes and public places across the country, with some of them even causing death when consumed.

Speaking from her home in Oman, Love said research in the US showed that 70 per cent of those affected by plant poisoning are kids below the age of five.

"The percentages in the UAE are probably similar," she added.

Some widely found toxic plants include oleander, golden dew drops, desert rose, elephant's ear and dumb cane, she said, noting that their effects range from nausea, vomiting and burning of the skin to serious conditions like difficulty in breathing and lung failure. "We find oleander, whose leaves and stems are toxic, not just in wadis, but also in public parks and gardens," said Love.

Some cases could be severe. "Dumb cane and elephant's ear, frequently seen as pot plants, contain a different poison which causes the mouth, tongue and throat to swell if consumed. In some cases, the throat becomes so swollen that the person can't breathe," said Love.

drops of poison

Similarly, golden dew drops and the desert rose which are used in hedges at hotels and public places can be dangerous. While golden dew drops havepoisonous berries, the milky sap of desert rose is so harmful it was used by tribes to coat arrow tips while hunting. "I wouldn't grow them in the garden," said Love.

Nature lover Reza Khan said nerium oleander which grows in the wet wadi beds of the Hajar mountains is very poisonous and contains toxins like oleandrin and neriine which are cardiac glycosides. They're deadly to people, especially children and animals. "Despite this fact, it is often grown in school yards," he said. "Similarly, yellow oleander which contains a poison called thevetin also possesses cardiac glycosides, which is deadly for human beings and most mammals," he said.

book of love

Gardening in Oman and the UAE features over 100 common plants found here and identifies poisonous varieties. Available at the Dubai Garden Centre, Magrudy's and Spinneys.

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Publication:XPRESS (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Mar 3, 2011
Words:439
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