Labelling of and information on poisonous plants

Karen Wilson Karen.Wilson at RBGSYD.GOV.AU
Wed May 3 17:36:08 CDT 2000

Can anyone in the US help my correspondent (see message below) about regulatory bodies for labelling/information about poisonous plants? Please reply direct to her if you can.
Karen Wilson

"We had an unfortunate incident happen over Easter.  On Monday, April 17th, I 
purchased an Easter Lily plant to decorate for the holiday.  After reading 
the label to see how to care for it, I placed it on the fireplace hearth.  
Within the hour, my youngest son said that our six month old kitten, Randi, 
was chewing on the leaves.  I set it up to a higher spot and didnGÇÖt think 
much of it.  I had always heard bad things about Poinsettias at Christmas, 
but never anything about Easter Lilies.  I took her to the vet on Wednesday 
for her one week post-op from being spayed and de-clawed.  She was acting 
fine and I didnGÇÖt mention the Easter Lily incident.  She looked a bit dumpy 
on Thursday, so I called the vet Friday morning.  I got the answering service 
and they told me to call Poison Control.  To my horror, I found out that 
Easter Lilies are toxic to felines only and cause acute renal failure.  They 
told me that a cat would have to eat their weight in a Poinsettia  to hurt 
them, but only have to eat a portion of one leaf of an Easter Lilly to cause 
the renal failure.

I rushed her to the vet.  As I was waiting for the vet to come in, I noticed 
two lists on the wall, "Safe Plants" and "Not So Safe Plants".  The Easter 
Lily was listed on the safe plant side.  My vet had not heard of them being 
toxic so she called Poison Control and Michigan State.  She learned what I 
had already been told.  Michigan State told her they see a couple cases a 
year.  She did a blood test on Randi, and our worst fears were confirmed.  
She was in acute renal failure.  They tried for two days to flush her 
kidneys, but she had to be put to sleep Easter morning.  I went to be with 
her and then came home and got ready for church.  It was awfully hard to sit 
and look at all those Easter Lilies decorating the church.  

A local TV station did a nice piece on her and tried to warn the public of 
this danger.  I wished I would have seen something about this before.  My 
question isGǪGǪ..why are plant growers exempt from labeling their plants as 
toxic or non-toxic to humans or pets?  When I buy cleaners, antifreeze, or 
anything else poisonous, it is labeled as such.  Why arenGÇÖt plant growers 
required to do the same so that I can make an informed choice as to whether 
or not I want it in my house or yard if it is potentially dangerous.  People 
buy plants because they are pretty, they donGÇÖt necessarily know any dangers 
linked with it.  If I would have known the Easter Lilies were dangerous to my 
cats, I wouldnGÇÖt have put it where I did. I would have put it in a safe spot. 
 All they need to do is add that information on to their care labels.  

I have relayed this information to a lot of people, and have found only a few 
that knew of this danger.  I feel guilty that I didnGÇÖt know and it resulted 
in my cat being poisoned, but then several vets I have talked to didnGÇÖt know 
it either. I looked on the Internet after the fact and saw how dangerous 
these plants are, but why should I have to do that?  It should have been 
right on the label where I could easily have seen it.  I thank God my other 
cat didnGÇÖt follow suit.

Please help me in getting started to get something done about this.  I feel 
very strongly about this and want to make a difference.  I have sent this 
letter to my Michigan State Representative.  Is there a Plant Growers 
Association of some sort in the U.S. that I can contact?  Any help you can 
give me would be greatly appreciated.


Sue Von Eschen
5989 Arroyo Vista Dr. NE
Rockford, MI 49341-8803
email: Walkergal4 at"

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