Auckland Regional Public Health Service is advising people to be careful around poisonous plants after a dog died from eating karaka berries in an Auckland park.
Karaka berries are attractive to both children and dogs. The berries fall from the trees in summer, are two and a half to four centimetres long, oval in shape and turn from green to orange.
Dr. Simon Baker, Medical Officer of Health at ARPHS advises parents and those caring for children to, “Be aware of which of plants in New Zealand are poisonous, and know the plants and trees in your house and garden.”
“We also need to teach our children not to eat or gather any berries or plant matter unless guided by an adult who knows that the plant is safe for human consumption.”
While very few people die from contact with plants in New Zealand, many have been made sick, and many animals die each year from plant poisoning.
The National Poisons Centre in Dunedin (http://poisons.co.nz/) receives many calls each year from doctors and members of the public after children and animals have eaten berries, flowers,
leaves, and fungi.
Top safety tips for minimising harm from poisonous plants:
• Be aware of which of plants in New Zealand are poisonous, and know the plants and trees in your house and garden. Remove poisonous plants or move them to a part of the garden or house
that children can’t reach.
• Teach children not to eat or gather any berries or plant matter unless guided by an adult who knows that the plant is safe for human consumption.
• Check the label when you buy a plant, or ask staff at the Garden Centre to check if the plant is poisonous.
• Clear away berries, flowers and leaves from poisonous plants that fall onto lawns and paths.
• Don’t eat fungi unless you are an expert. Fungi can be very hard to identify. If you have young children, check your lawn and garden regularly, and remove all fungi safely.
• Pre-schools or primary schools need to know which plants to avoid on their grounds, and be able to identify them.
There are over a hundred poisonous plants in New Zealand, and many people don’t know which plants are poisonous. Most are introduced species, and many are only present in gardens.