Helleborus niger in family garden- too dangerous?

M FM F Posts: 10



I have just purchased a small Helleborus niger, also known as Christmas rose, and didn't know that it is poisonous in larger quantities. I have googled a bit and found out that the seeds are especially dangerous but couldn't find anything about the leaves or flowers.

We have a toddler and although she doesn't take things in her mouth anymore I am now unsure if I should plant it or give it back to the Garden centre. I would love to keep it as we have clay soil and part shade, so this plant is ideal, but obviously I won't risk the safety of my child! Does anyone have this plant and children and can advise me? Thank you!


  • I would keep it, if you remove the flowers when they have died you won't get the seed heads.  I found that my children trampled plants rather than eat them image

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,805

    We had 5 children and 7 grandchildren wandering about our gardens over the last 40 years or so and we never managed to poison one of them, despite having a garden full of deadly plants. Teach the toddler not to eat anything out of the garden without asking permission and they will be safe. Otherwise you end up growing grass and then they might just eat that after a dog/cat/pigeon/magpie/hedgehog has used it for a toiilet. imageimage. (I am being facetious by the way. I do understand your concern).

  • jo4eyesjo4eyes Posts: 2,032

    Keep it. Remove the flowers before the seeds form & yes teach children that things from the garden are a 'no no'. Ok if you also grow vegs/salads that could be difficult, but a truthful explanation the best way. J.

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,115

    Anybody on this board have personal knowledge of a child being poisoned by anything in the garden?

    The chances of it happening are vanishingly small, I believe.

    A child is more likely to be poisoned by pills left carelessly about the house.

  • are these plant poisoness to chickens or rabbits? we have recently aquired both and I have loads of these plants in my garden and I usually let them seed everywhere!

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,757

    If everything was as dangerous as some would have us believe, the human race would've died out by now.  Holly berries, misletoe, rhubarb leaves, potato seeds, foxgloves - all contain toxins - but how many generations of children have gained pleasure from wearing the"little folk's gloves" on their fingers and thumbs?

    While children are still young enough to put things in their mouth they should not be in the garden unsupervised.  As they grow they should be taught not to eat anything from the garden without asking first.  Then they will learn that they can eat the contents of a pod of fresh peas with relish, and ignore the seeds from the laburnum.

    My siblings and I ran wild in gardens and fields - we were taught what was edible and what was not.  I've eaten all sorts of wild things, but only what I've been taught is safe.

    A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in - Greek proverb 
  • M FM F Posts: 10

    Thank you all for your answers, I am relieved to hear that I don't have to ban every plant that contains toxins! Now I just have to make the border to get startedimage

  • If you look in any garden with a handful of plants, at least one or two of them will be poisoness. Do you have daffidils in your garden in Spring? They are poisoness. Most of the toxin is found in the bulbs, but the leaves and stems carry alkaloids that can be damaging to health. During the second world war, the Dutch out of desperation fed daffodil bulbs to their starving cattle - the cattle died.

    At least 40% of all plant families contain plants that carry alkaloids - some alkaloids can be harmful and fatal, whilst others help to wake us up in the morning (ie coffee).

    With so many posioness plants in the garden, and inquisative children, you'd think there would be control of toxic plants, or big warning notices on plant labels saying don't let children (or anybody else) eat this plant. In fact, such warnings are few and far between, because its clearly a very rare incident.
  • CiaCia Posts: 154

    Refering back to Bunnies and Chooks question - does anyone know the answer? I have cats, birds, squirrals, foxes and badgers in my garden - are they all safe? Oh i love to watch the Jackdaws too -they are one of my favourites.

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,805

    Wild creatures do not eat poisonous plants. Our hens wandered our garden and sometimes the fields around us and we never lost one to them eating things they should not have done. Lettuce is more harmful to rabbits than anything else. Again these creatures would not have survived if they ate things which killed them.

    The only thing I know of where a bird eats deadly poison is the pigeons which eat Rape seed, which does eventually poison them.

  • Tim BurrTim Burr Posts: 344
    That's probably not a bad thing. Pigeons are nothing more than rats with wings.
  • CiaCia Posts: 154

    I learn so much from this site.Whats Rape seed?

    Tim rats with wings - ahh i look at them and think - they just want thier dinner, like the rest of us.image

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,805

    Rape seed is the ubiquitous yellow flowering plant ones sees in the country side. It is processed to make Rape seed oil which is a better cooking oil than Olive oil as it contains less harmful fats.

    Pigeons may just want their lunch, but if you had seen the flock of a 1,000 or so which has just come up from the newly sown Winter wheat field from next to us, and it was your field I think you would be a little less generous. also they defecate over everything in sight. They are classed as vermin.

  • CiaCia Posts: 154

    Fair point Berghill. image

  • I've never worried about poisonous plants when the grandkids come to stay, but I have said to them never to put anything in their mouths unless I've told them it's OK, as some plants could make them sick. I think in most cases that's what would happen, rather than the child just dropping dead. They seem fine about this, but I let them eat raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes straight from the plants, which is fun for them. The age at which they just just put everything in their mouths (from crawling stage up to about 18 months or two years) is not an age when you'd leave them unsupervised to crawl around your flower beds, and by the time they are old enough to run off behind your back, they're also old enough to follow simple rules.

    The one plant I would be wary of is yew, which is not commonly found in gardens. The berries look really pretty and appealing but the seeds inside them are very poisonous. My nephew had to be admitted to hospital after eating some in a park, and at one stage they were not sure they would be able to save him. He did make a complete recovery.



  • CiaCia Posts: 154

    Your words were heard and understood. Im glad your nephew made a full recovery.

  • Umm3Umm3 Posts: 2

    I have two young grand-children who love both to play and 'help' in the garden. They enjoy eating fruit straight from the bush or tree and veggies straight from the veggy patch. Both are repeatedly reminded only to eat what is given to them by us or their parents. But accidents can happen in the blink of an eye. My grand daughter once picked a juicy looking 'red berry' from an Arum Italicum (Lords and Ladies, Cuckoo pint) in a wild part of the garden. It was removed from her mouth in record time and NHS direct said there was nothing to worry about, although she might have slight irritation in her mouth; although The Poison Garden website states that it is the most common cause of accidental plant poisoning based on attendence at hospital A & E. I think she suffered more from Grandmas finger being poked into her mouth. There was no sore mouth or upset tummy, fortunately. The spent flowerheads of the arum are now removed before berries form. We also get Deadly Nightshade in our garden. It forms a quite large attractive plant with pretty bell shaped flowers, The berries are large,black, shiny and very juicy looking - but deadly - and a definite No! No! in a garden with children about. I don't worry about my hellebores. 

  • Hi we have just bought a Labrador puppy who is now 14 weeks. When we brought him home at 8 weeks the first thing he did was pull out and chew my Aquileia plants. He trampled my Aubrietia and has ruined the lawn with his urine. Can anyone please suggest what plants would be suitable for partial shade to plant in pots that are not poisonous to dogs ? I should add he has now started to dig in the pots that have compost in to bury bones etc. Should I get him a patch of dirt that could be his ? Thanks for your help, kind regards Maggie

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,757

    I've had several labradors in my time.  Super dogs and very easy to train as they want human attention (and food).  

    Have a look at this http://www.wikihow.com/Clicker-Train-Your-Dog. It's a very useful way to train your dog, reinforcing good behaviours rather than punishing bad ones.  

    Labrador puppies need things to chew - get him a puppy sized Kong toy and whenever he starts to chew something he shouldn't, give him the Kong.  He'll need bigger ones as he grows - all 'retriever type' dogs need things to chew on until their around two and a half years old.

    If you allow your dog to dig and chew plants in the garden you'll never have a garden, so until you've got the hang of the clicker training, distract him when he's going to do something you don't want him to.  Don't leave him in the garden unsupervised, and enrol yourselves on your local puppy-training course.  

    Good luck and enjoy him.  image

    PS.  You might find this site interesting http://www.thelabradorsite.com/ 

    A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in - Greek proverb 
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