calcium oxalate

Common Poisonous House and Garden Plants and their Symptoms

If you have children or pets or suspect someone might have ingested or handled these plants improperly, this list is for you. Most of these plants seem entirely harmless and even more of them are used every day in gardens and as indoor decoration or in spellwork. Most all the symptoms I list are symptoms of ingestion unless otherwise noted. If something is incorrect, please feel free to message me and I will fix it shortly!

Peace Lily (Spathiphylum)

Peace lilies resemble Calla lilies and are fairly popular as gifts. They contain calcium oxalate crystals that can bring on skin irritation when handled, burning of the mouth, difficulty swallowing and nausea.

English Ivy (Hedera Helix)

The berries from English Ivy can cause gastrointestinal issues and delirium or respiratory problems. Sap from the leaves can cause skin irritation and sometimes blisters.


All parts of this plant contain calcium oxalate. Repeated contact can cause reactions similar to allergic reactions and ingestion can cause abdominal pain.

Ficus trees and Rubber Trees (Ficus Benjamina/Elastica)

Ficus trees produce a form of latex that can bring on allergic reactions in some people.

Larkspur and Delphinium (consolida ajacis)

Similar to our deadly friend Aconite (monkshood), this plant can bring about the same symptoms if ingested in a large enough quantity.

Lily of the Valley (Convalina mahalis)

Contains cardiac glycosides that can cause headache, nausea, and cardiac issues.

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)

Contains toxic alkaloids that can cause nausea, seizures, and respiratory issues.

Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)

All parts of sweet peas are mildly poisonous. New sprouts and shoots contain the most toxins, an amino acid called lathyrogen. Can cause paralysis, weakness and tremors.


Produces a highly irritating sap. Touching the bulbs can cause a reaction as well as breathing dust from the bulbs. Ingestion can cause vomiting, breathing issues, and weakness.

Hyacinth (hyacinth orientalis)

Sap and bulbs, much like tulips, are major skin irritants.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons

A toxin called grannotoxin can be found in the leaves, flowers, nectar and pollen. Ingestion can cause heart problems, vomiting, dizziness, and extreme weakness

Black Locust (Robina Psudocacia)

All parts but the flowers are poisonous. Can cause weak pulse, upset stomach, headache, and cold extremities.


All parts are toxic. Causes burning, fever, vomiting and in extreme cases kidney failure.


All parts are poisonus. Sap is a skin irritant and bright berries are deadly. Irritation of the throat, internal bleeding, weakness, and vomiting are all symptoms.

Foxglove (digitalis)

All parts can cause severe stomach upset, skin irritation, delirium, tremors, convulsion, headaches, and heart failure.

Hellebore/Christmas Rose

All parts are poisonous, and the sap is a skin irritant. Can cause bruning, vomiting, dizziness, nervous depression, and convulsions.


Often used as a cake topper, Hydrangea actually contains levels of cyanide. Ingestion leads to vomiting, headache, and muscle weakness.


Berries contain toxins that can cause visual problems, weakness, vomiting, heart problems and even death.


Contains a toxin known as Lobelamine that can cause heart problems, vomiting, tremors and paralysis.

Yellow Jessamine (Gelsimium semperviens)

All parts are toxic. Pollen and nectar are fatal to children.


Anthurium dolichostachyum is in the peace lily family Araceae. It is native to South America including Ecuador and Brazil. Like many Anthuriums, this species is an evergreen shrub or vine that grows in the jungle understory. The flowers are arranged in a spike-like inflorescence known as a spadix, and develop into bright red berries. The fruits, and other parts of this plant are toxic, due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals in the tissues. These calcium oxalate crystals are abrasive and can damage lung tissue and organ linings if ingested.

Common Ailments in Guinea Pigs

I attended a BSAVA Clinical Club Pub talk on guinea pigs by Jill Pearson, a veterinary surgeon with lots of exotics knowledge.

So what are the common diseases of guinea pigs?

Hypovitaminosis C (Scurvy)

  • Consequences: parasitic infestation, respiratory disease, pododermatitis, malocclusion, immunosuppression, swollen and painful joints, poor wound healing
  • Treatment: 100 mg/day vitamin C supplement
    • In young animals, musculoskeletal damage can’t be reversed – euthanasia
    • Prevention: use a guinea pig diet with 800 mg/kg vitamin C

Respiratory disease

  • Bordatella bronchiseptica
    • Clinical signs: snuffles, severe depression, respiratory disease
    • Treatment: antibiotics, fluids, nutritional support, NSAIDs
  • Streptococcal pneumonia
  • Syringe feeding
    • Prevention: use a thick mixture and don’t do if guinea pig won’t swallow
  • Cervical lymphadenitis (abscesses in lymph nodes)
    • Cause: Streptococcus zooepidemicus
    • Treatment: systemic antibiotics, possibly excision of node/lancing and drainage of abscesses

Urinary problems

  • Cystic ovaries
    • Clinical signs: bilateral flank alopecia, vulval bleeding, palpable lumps in abdomen
    • Treatment: spaying
  • Cystitis or cystic/urethral calculi
    • Usually calcium oxalate calculi
    • Clinical signs: squeaking while peeing, blood in urine, urine scald
    • Treatment: use pre-boiled water to drink, add Ribena to water to increase fluids, antibiotics, diazepam (if male)

Weight loss

  • Dental malocclusion – linked to Hypovitaminosis C
    • Treatment: dentistry, adjust diet
  • Yersinia pseudotuberculosis – rare
    • Clinical signs: weight loss, diarrhoea
    • Diagnosis: euthanasia and post-mortem
  • Coccidiosis (Eimeria caviae) – rare
    • Causes: poor husbandry and overcrowding
    • Treatment: sulphamezathine/sulphadimidine in water with Ribena (because bad-tasting)
  • Tumours (lymphomas), pododermatitis, painful temporomandibular joint


  • Trixacarus caviae – most common
    • Clinical signs: crusting, hair loss, pruritus, pain, seizures, bronchospasm
    • Treatment: topical or parenteral ivermectin, NSAIDs vs pain, diazepam vs seizures, bathing to clean skin
  • Trichophyton mentagrophytes – less common
    • Clinical signs: starts at head
    • Diagnosis: microscopic examination, culture
    • Treatment: topical enilconazole
  • Pediculosis (Gyropus ovalis, Gliricola porcelli)
    • Treatment: ivermectin 3x every 7-10 days

Jack in the Pulpit…

the roots were used for a variety of Native American medicines, including pain relief, asthma and snakebite… the corm or bulb was used as a food source, but care had to be taken to inactivate the poisonous calcium oxalate… in fact, some competing tribes would try to poison each other by lacing food with calcium oxalate taken from the corm…