South Africa is blessed with a massive range of indigenous trees and other flowering plants. Actually, in the very hot climate, sitting under the trees and enjoying their shade is a part of our lifestyle. Surrounded by gardens and greenery, patches of paradise emerge. And, even in the wilderness, campers always look for that handy tree to enjoy. But, did you know that some trees and plants could be dangerous to your kids?
South Africa potentially dangerous tree to avoid
More than two potentially dangerous indigenous trees occur in the country. But, of note, are the Tamboti and the Candelabra. If you ever traveled to KwaZulu, you might know the Tamboti tree. It’s found in the Ithala Game Reserve and around Pongola. In fact, you might come across it in many places along the east coast. Plus, it occurs in Kruger National Park. The scientific name is Spirostachys africana.
Tall, the trees carry diagnostically tiny leaves. But if you pull the leaves off, a fine milky latex can burn your skin. Irritating latex occurs all over the tree. In fact, in the eyes, it can cause blindness. And you certainly don’t want to put it on the campfire or start a braai with the wood. Some people experience bad reactions from just handling it! The South Africa National Biodiversity Institute explains that some people grow them in their gardens. But obviously, people with kids should be aware of the poisonous properties.
Be careful of the Candelabra
Euphorbia Ingens, known as the Candelabra is another plant that people sometimes grow in their gardens. Or, you might come across them if you travel in drier parts of the country. Drought-resistant and easy to manage, many gardeners enjoy them growing around rockeries. But, they also pose a problem for families with young kids. Plant Care Today notes that the plant has been used as a traditional medicine for centuries.
According to their website, “If ingested, the latex can pose certain health threats. It can cause skin irritation and even blindness on contact.” They also noted that people in South Africa often use them as decorative house plants, But, they also caution that the latex might pose a danger to small children and pets. Severe vomiting, localized pain, or stinging eyes could indicate a close encounter with the plant.
Green, attractive, and bringing a tropical feel to many gardens, is the Delicious Monster. But the Western Cape Government website warns they could be potentially fatal. The website explains that they “contain calcium oxalate crystals” and it’s important that small kids don’t chew on the leaves, seeds, or any parts of the plant. Initial symptoms include an “inflamed mouth, tongue and lips.”
Do you know of any other commonly found plants in South African gardens that might be potentially dangerous to kids? Share them in the comments below.