Why are we Planting Poison in our Backyards and Schools?

For decades I’ve played with, around, and been exposed to one of the most toxic substances known to man and animals- and  I had no idea.  It’s everywhere- the sides of freeways, by schools, in backyards, and driveways all over the world- and especially here in California.

I’m talking about the Oleander plant.

Every year, thousands of people are poisoned and countless animals and pets die from Oleander toxicity. Although many people know about the deadly consequences of Oleander exposure and it’s affect on the heart- Oleander is STILL being planted around schoolyards and around homes where children, pets and other animals have easy access to the poisonous plant.

Oleander is one of the most deadly plants out there- every single part of the bush is poisonous.  Even more troubling, you may not even know you’re in danger. Wild honey from bees exposed to the Oleander can also be deadly and the plant retains it’s toxicity even after drying (some people are poisoned each year by using the dried leaves and stems in a campfire.) Just one leaf, ONE LEAF can kill a child- a few more leaves can kill an adult, yet it’s still being planted on playgrounds (there are huge bushes of Oleander right next to the playground at the school I attended).

Part of the reason the plants are so prolific:  Oleanders are easy to maintain, drought and pollution resistant and beautiful.  They’re planted on major freeways all across the United States for their ability to add a splash of color and block out the distracting vision of on-coming traffic.  While freeway islands may be acceptable places for these deadly plants- schools and homes are not.

Would we plant a vat of poison in our front yard or school and allow kids to play right next to it?  The dangers of Oleander poisoning are not taught in schools, and even if it was, why in the world do we continue to put this toxic plant anywhere near children or animals?

If you see these plants in your neighborhood, urge your neighbors to plant something else in it’s place.  Help them plant something new if you have time, and urge your local school to plant a non-toxic alternative.

Your child or pet may thank you for it.

Common symptoms of Oleander poisoning:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heart rhythm disturbance, palpitations or increased heart rate
  • Vision Disturbances – Blurred vision, low blood pressure
  • Dizziness, disorientation
  • Headaches
  • Lethargy
  • Hives or rashes

If you or someone you know has been exposed to the Oleander plant seek medical help IMMEDIATELY.