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Question about azaleas

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  • Lorene Brown
    Hi, I just have a quick question about azaleas. We have a rental house with beautiful azaleas, and our renters who have a 2 year old, told us that azaleas are
    Message 1 of 3 , Sep 28, 2007
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      Hi,
      I just have a quick question about azaleas.
      We have a rental house with beautiful azaleas, and our renters who have a 2 year old, told us that azaleas are poisonous.
      I have never heard of this before, thought you would know the answer.
      Thank you for your time.
      Lorrie
    • William C. Miller III
      Hi Lorene, There are books available that report all of the extremely common indoor and outdoor plants that are poisonous. If you take a few minutes with your
      Message 2 of 3 , Sep 29, 2007
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        Hi Lorene,

        There are books available that report all of the extremely common indoor and outdoor plants that are poisonous.  If you take a few minutes with your favorite Internet search engine, you can find Web sites that discuss the plant toxicity issue in more detail than we have space and time for here.  The truth is that much of the plant kingdom is not suitable for human consumption.  If you wanted to go to the trouble of only  having non poisonous plants, you would end up with an incredibly dull yard.

        To answer your question, azaleas are poisonous.  You don't want to eat azaleas.  But, to put it into perspective --- properly managed two year olds shouldn't have much opportunity to "graze" in the yard.  There is no case to be made for not growing azaleas because they are poisonous. 

        Azaleas are  generally regarded as a positive and essential element of a diverse and well designed landscape.   If your renter wants to be argumentative, you can point out the many common  everyday household products and chemicals in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, and garage that present a more realistic and potential danger to an improperly managed child.   The list of common products (aspirin and other medicines, toilet bowl cleaner, chlorine bleach, soap and any of the various detergents, any form of alcohol and tobacco, gasoline, antifreeze...) that one would have to give up to fully "protect" that two year old would be quite long. 

        The bottom line is that azaleas should be viewed and not eaten.

        Bill Miller
        Bethesda, Maryland
        www.theazaleaworks.com

        Lorene Brown wrote:
        Hi,
        I just have a quick question about azaleas.
        We have a rental house with beautiful azaleas, and our renters who have a 2 year old, told us that azaleas are poisonous.
        I have never heard of this before, thought you would know the answer.
        Thank you for your time.
        Lorrie
      • S. M. Henning
        ... Hi Lorrie, Unfortunately rhododendrons and azaleas are toxic and should not be included in your salad or stew. Eating any part of the plant can cause
        Message 3 of 3 , Sep 30, 2007
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          Lorrie wrote:

          >I just have a quick question about azaleas.
          >We have a rental house with beautiful azaleas, and our renters who
          >have a 2 year old, told us that azaleas are poisonous.
          >I have never heard of this before, thought you would know the answer.

          Hi Lorrie,

          Unfortunately rhododendrons and azaleas are toxic and should not be
          included in your salad or stew. Eating any part of the plant can
          cause nausea, salivation, vomiting, weakness, dizziness, difficulty
          in breathing, loss of balance. The good news is that the toxins
          produce a burning sensation in the mouth and that 100 to 225 grams of
          azalea (Rhododendron occidentale) leaves must be eaten to seriously
          poison a 55 lb child.
          [http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$Department/deptdocs.nsf/all/webdoc1376%5d

          In the scheme of thing that are toxic Cornell University does not
          even include azaleas in their extensive list of poisonous plants.
          [http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/alphalist.html%5d

          Castor beans, mistletoe, foxglove, green parts of potatoes (cause by
          exposure to light), wild mushrooms, and oleander are more toxic.
          Many plants will cause some toxic reaction. Peanuts are the most
          notorious recently. It is best to assume all plants are toxic unless
          one is certain otherwise. Even some so-called medicinal herbs, that
          are "natural" are toxic. Some examples are comfrey, foxglove,
          groundsel, and coltsfoot. Tobacco kills more people than any other
          single plant.

          So I would not recommend decorating a play pen with azaleas or any
          other plant, but general precautions should keep a small child away
          from these and many other objects also including objects that attract
          bees and yellow jackets such as candy and sweet drinks.

          --
          Cheers, Steve Henning in Reading, PA USA Zone 6

          Visit my Rhododendron and Azalea web pages at:
          http://rhodyman.net/rasite.html

          Also visit the Rhododendron and Azalea Bookstore at:
          http://rhodyman.net/rabooks.html
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