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Date: 24 Jul 2019, Entry id: 1563952562-1

Plants that are not for eating

Q: On the website, it says that the pua keni keni tree is toxic. Do you know how toxic? Is it mild irritation or can someone die from ingesting any part of the plant?

A: Pua Keni Keni, Fagraea - seeds (and especially flesh of the fruit) are toxic, so we recommend to always wash your hands after handling them. Obviously, nobody in our team ever tried to eat them to check how toxic they are and if they are deadly.

In general, one must be careful when using plants for purposes other than ornamental growing, especially for consumption. While some obvious edibles (cultivated fruit, vegetables, herbs) are generally safe, but some individuals may have severe reactions - for example, many people are allergic to mangoes; other people may be sensitive to only mango leaves.

A number of plants that have parts commonly consumed for food, have other parts toxic or poisonous. Example: Potato - Solanum tuberosum - has edible tubers feeding the whole planet population, but this plant's fruit is highly toxic and even deadly if eaten. Fruit from a Potato plant look like tiny little green tomatoes since Potato belongs to the same family as Tomato - Nightshade, but it is super poisonous, while Tomato fruit is perfectly edible. So one must watch out and especially educate little children about not tasting anything directly from the garden.

As far as animals concern, in Nature they know what is poisonous and what is edible. Have you ever seen dead birds around a tree with poisonous fruit/seeds? Animals have their own sense for it. So if your concern is for pets, it is normally safe to have pets around plants with irritating or even poisonous parts. However, if your dog has a bad habit of chewing on stuff, you may use extra caution there.

Photo below:

Riki-Tiki-Tavi exploring TopTropicals Gardens.

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