Monday, July 07, 2008

Arum italicum subsp. italicum

The plant pictured above? Arum Italicum. I suggest you do not try to eat it.
Arum Italicum is poisonous, which Ada and Monkey Boy learned the hard way, when they each gave it a good bite yesterday afternoon. Technically it isn't actually poison that causes the problem, but it has some kind of glasslike shards (calcium oxalate crystals) in the berries that cause pain. They both experienced a burning pain due to what they described as the plant's "spiciness."

Ellen, Chris and I hit the internet and gardening books, as well as asking neighbors and finally the poison control folks. Turns out that the woman at poison control is a master gardener.

Both kids showed no lasting ill effects (other than about ten minutes of spicy-mouth). In researching this plant, I learned that it can be highly invasive and is hated by many gardeners.

Lucky for us, this was a case of live and learn. It was also a teaching moment, in which we reinforced for the kids that they could eat what they found in the vegetable garden, but that under no circumstances were they to taste-test other plants they found in the garden or elsewhere. Hopefully this has sunk in, along with the burning sensation.


  1. Yikes -- glad they're OK!

  2. "Tastes like burning" as we say in our house.

  3. ooh, scary. glad all's well.