Advanced search

would you get rid of a laburnum tree?

(28 Posts)
swizzles Thu 22-Sep-05 11:15:24

we have a garden on two levels. The lower half is laid to lawn and there's a laburnum tree.

Looking at the garden, the lower lawn is where we would put play equipment once our daughter is older, ie, near the laburnum

I've heard that the seeds from this tree are poisonous but I don't know how poisonous and are they poisonous to humans?

My concern is that I won't be able to leave our daughter to play in the garden (for instance, if I need to pop back into the house) and that I will have to constantly watch her.

My husband doesn't want to get rid of the tree but I think we should (it's not him who has to stay home and constantly watch her when she's toddling!!) It really is a lovely tree, the nicest one we have, but my daughter is lovlier! Any advice??

KBear Thu 22-Sep-05 11:26:20

My parents had laburnum trees in their garden - we knew they were poisonous and never touched them, and my kids never touch them either. I don't know how much exactly you would have to eat before it is a problem - a google on that might tell you. If she put one in her mouth it might not be a problem and most children won't eat a handful of something like that.

How about putting a fine net under the tree to catch the pods? They shed a helluva lot of blossom too so might not be the best place to put climbing equipment anyway.


PrettyCandles Thu 22-Sep-05 11:27:27

Laburnum is very poisonous - all parts of it, I think. That said, my brother, my sister and I grew up in a garden full of poisonous plants, many out of sight from the lawn. Somehow you have to teach your child not to put anything from the the garden in her mouth, and gradually, as she gets older teach her what is safe and what is not. I was researching this earlier this year, and learnt that there are actually very few fatally poisonous plants, but a huge number of 'uncomfortably' poisonous ones. You'd have a very bare garden if it was completely safe!

My children were harvesting in PIL's allotment recently, and when we returned home I showed them the hugely attractive bright red holly berries which have started to ripen near us, and explained that some plants are edible, like on Grandad's allottment, but some aren't and would make them very ill. Holly, for example (though in fact I don't know whether it's poisonous), and they were not to pick any berries or eat anything from a plant unless Mummy or Daddy said that they could. Ditto with the conkers.

Nik72 Thu 22-Sep-05 11:29:36

The seeds are very poisonous when green and less so when they turn brown. I grew up with a big laburnum tree in the garden & was always told not to eat the seeds & when I was little wouldn't have been able to get at them when they were green anyway.
Having said that my best friend deliberately fed her brother green laburnum seeds and told him they were peas (she was only 7 or so & didn't think much of her brother!!!) but he was fine once the local GP had given him something to make him puke.
Not sure this helps - sorry!

Marina Thu 22-Sep-05 11:32:54

Laburnum is a highly toxic tree and potentially lethal...but...we have done five years in a garden with an ornamental and similarly toxic yew tree that everyone implored us to cut down.
We didn't and we have always made it clear to ds and dd that nothing in our garden is edible. The only time we eat berries or anything else straight off the plant is when an adult helps you pick it and explains what it is.
How old is your dd Swizzles? Ours is just two, a thoroughly defiant toddler, but even she understands our rule and can be trusted on this, although obviously like you it just a question of popping back to the house as she is so little.
Despite our garden being a death-trap according to MIL, the only plant poisoning scare we ever had was when a sycamore seed dropped into her wide-open maw while we were on holiday

Marina Thu 22-Sep-05 11:33:29

Should have said I grew up with a laburnum too. And a lilac...and a stand of foxgloves...

SoupDragon Thu 22-Sep-05 11:37:58

We got rid of laburnum trees in the gardens of both houses we've lived in. In this one we replaced it with a lovely acer instead. Generally I don't hold with removing all poisonous plants but for some reason I felt the laburnum was more risky since all parts are apparently poisonous and because of the seeds etc it sheds.

We have left yews and laurel though, both of which are poisonous!

I prefer to teach a "don't touch don't eat" policy wrt plants.

Tortington Thu 22-Sep-05 11:41:58

dont do it

KBear Thu 22-Sep-05 11:43:26

Got this from netdoctor

Can our Laburnum tree poison our son?


We have just moved house and there is a beautiful Laburnum tree in the garden and we have a two year old. What are the symptoms of Laburnum poisoning and can it be treated? Or should we just have the tree removed?


You are quite right to be concerned about laburnum as all parts of the plant are poisonous and children should be warned never to touch the black seeds contained within the pods as they contain an alkaloid poison.

Symptoms of poisoning by Laburnum root or seed are intense sleepiness, vomiting, convulsive movements and dilated pupils. However, as the seeds have a bitter taste, they are appealing to children in appearance rather than taste. Cases of poisoning are usually dealt with supportively, that is, treating various symptoms rather than giving an antidote, but are relatively rare nowadays as most people are aware of the risks involved in cultivating these attractive trees.

As to whether you keep or destroy your tree, I cannot comment as everybody has different degrees of risk that they are prepared to take. Some sort of shield around the tree in the autumn when it produces its pods of seeds might be a practical alternative to keep your two-year-old safe and your garden beautiful but that has to be your choice.

KBear Thu 22-Sep-05 11:45:50

and this from another site

Luckily mortality in humans is very rare, hence this report in the Lancet in 1979: "In an average summer over three thousand children are admitted to hospital in England and Wales because of laburnum poisoning. It is suggested that laburnum is not as dangerous as has been thought and that many of these admissions are unnecessary."
(Lancet. 1979 May 19;1(8125):1073)

Nevertheless anyone who has eaten Laburnum seeds should be taken immediately to an emergency department, where activated charcoal may be administered to soak up the poison and other drugs and treatment may be administered as required for possible seizures or respiratory failure.

Remember that as little as two seeds can suffice to poison a child and the tree should therefore never be planted near children's playgrounds.

KBear Thu 22-Sep-05 11:46:11

Too much information??????

Cam Thu 22-Sep-05 11:46:31

I've got an enormous old yew which I like because it provides excellent shade in the summer and is an evergreen, also foxgloves, laurel, and many plants which provide berries for birds (don't know if they are poisonous).

Dd has been brought up in exactly the same way, not to put anything in her mouth from the garden except blackberries which she is allowed to pick and eat.

I just recently found out that wisteria is toxic too and I have a large one on the front of my house

Rhubarb Thu 22-Sep-05 11:56:06

Chop 'em down and concrete over 'em!

swizzles Thu 22-Sep-05 13:13:13

concrete mixer on it's way

hmmm not sure what to do. She's just a baby right now, but next summer she'll be playing on a mat in the garden, hopefully crawling and possibly walking (she will have her first birthday in july)

Perhaps I'll block the entrance to the lower lawn until the following summer when she can be told not to eat anything, she'll have to play up near the house until then. Hmmm had lovely visions of her toddling around while I sunbathe!

thanks for your responses

Bozza Thu 22-Sep-05 13:17:03

Wouldnt' you have to block the different level off anyway for safety?

swizzles Thu 22-Sep-05 17:14:46

erm...yes I suppose so

why didn't I think of that?

morningpaper Thu 22-Sep-05 17:42:19

There are LOADS of poisonous plants in the average garden and even eating a handful of soil is extremely dangerous. Not to mention cat shit!

You need to teach your daughter NEVER to put anything from the garden in her mouth and ALWAYS to wash her hands after being in the garden. I have drilled this into my 3 year-old with as much ferocity as I've taught her not to go near electrical plugs.

Any time she has put something from the garden in her mouth (when younger) it was a total bollocking and sent to her room. She's now very clear about garden 'rules' and that means I can leave her unsupervised without worrying.

GeraldGiraffe Thu 22-Sep-05 17:44:58

oh god have just realised there is one in our new garden
when do they start pod shedding?

triceratops Thu 22-Sep-05 17:50:38

things that grow in the garden must be
"vegetables" I think my son is quite, quite safe.

Milliways Thu 22-Sep-05 18:03:17

We have 2 labernums, & I love them. My friend is mortified that we haven't cut them down as someone she knows is BRAIN-DAMAGED from eating the seeds!.

Depends on your children. Ours always new not to eat anything outside.

morningpaper Thu 22-Sep-05 19:05:32

Councils still plant them in public parks, so I strongly suspect they are not as poisonous as some people claim!

PrettyCandles Sat 24-Sep-05 20:00:37

This is a copy of a list posted on in response to request by me. It's long, but worth having a look at.

"It's pretty difficult to get a list that includes what the effects are, let alone one that is authoritative. I do have such a list, but I can't now remember where it came from and I'm going to preface it with a quote from the BBC Web site:

"Keep risks in perspective - Before you panic and rush off to convert your garden into a Japanese art form of stones and water, keep things in perspective. Research has shown the risk of harm from plant poisons is low - less than one in 10 million, or about the same as the chance of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning. Why not start a weekly walk with your children to show them the beauty and beasts in your garden?"

"And here's the link for the full article, which singles out some of the most dangerous plants in a UK context.

"So now here's my list. Each item in the sequence: plant, toxic part, symptoms. (You're going to be sorry you asked! )


Hyacinth, Narcissus, Daffodil
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. May be fatal.

Leaves, branches
Extremely poisonous. Affects the heart, produces severe digestive upset and has caused death.

Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane), Elephant Ear
All parts
Intense burning and irritation of the mouth and tongue. Death can occur if base of the tongue swells enough to block the air passage of the throat.

Rosary Pea, Castor Bean
Fatal. A single Rosary Pea seed has caused death. One or two Castor Bean seeds are near the lethal dose for adults.


Young plant, seeds
Digestive upset, nervous excitement, depression. May be fatal.

Fleshy roots
Digestive upset and nervous excitement.

Autumn Crocus, Star of Bethlehem
Vomiting and nervous excitement.

Leaves, flowers
Irregular heart beat and pulse, usually accompanied by digestive upset and mental confusion.

Underground stems
Severe - but not usually serious - digestive upset.

Large amounts cause dangerously irregular heartbeat and pulse, usually digestive upset and mental confusion. May be fatal.

Bleeding Heart
Foliage, roots
May be poisonous in large amounts. Has proved fatal to cattle.


Leaf blade
Fatal. Large amounts of raw or cooked leaves can cause convulsions, coma, followed rapidly by death.


Fatal. A few berries can kill a child.

Seeds, pods
Mild to severe digestive upset. Many children are poisoned by this plant.

Golden Chain
Bean-like capsules in which the seeds are suspended
Severe poisoning. Excitement, staggering, convulsions and coma. May be fatal.

Laurels, Rhododendrons, Azaleas
All parts
Fatal. Produces nausea and vomiting, depression, difficult breathing, prostration and coma.

Fatal. Digestive disturbance and nervous symptoms.

Lantana Camara (Red Sage)
Green berries
Fatal. Affects lungs, kidneys, heart and nervous system. Grows in the southern U.S. And in moderate climates.

Berries, foliage
Fatal. Foliage more toxic than berries. Death is usually sudden without warning symptoms.


Wild and cultivated cherries
Twigs, foliage
Fatal. Contains a compound that releases cyanide when eaten. Gasping, excitement and prostration are common symptoms.

Foliage, acorns
Affects kidneys gradually. Symptoms appear only after several days or weeks. Takes a large amount for poisoning.

All parts, especially roots
Children have been poisoned by using pieces of the pithy stems for blowguns. Nausea and digestive upset.

Black Locust
Bark, sprouts, foliage
Children have suffered nausea, weakness and depression after chewing the bark and seeds.


All parts, especially roots
Like Dumb Cane, contains small needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate that cause intense irritation and burning of the mouth and tongue.

Blue, purple color, resembling wild grapes. May be fatal.

Apple, foliage, roots
Contains at least 16 active toxic principles, primarily in the roots. Children often eat the apple with no ill effects, but several apples may cause diarrhea.

Fatal. Both children and adults have died from eating the berries.


Water Hemlock
All parts
Fatal. Violent and painful convulsions. A number of people have died from hemlock.


All parts
Irritant juices may severely injure the digestive system.

All parts, especially the unripened berry
Fatal. Intense digestive disturbance and nervous symptoms.

Poison Hemlock
All parts
Fatal. Resembles a large wild carrot.

Jimson Weed (Thorn Apple)
All parts
Abnormal thirst, distorted sight, delirium, incoherence and coma. Common cause of poisoning. Has proved fatal.

starlover Sat 24-Sep-05 20:03:57

haven't read all replies but my friends cousin nearly died from eating laburnum berries
we had one in our garden that my mum and dad cut down

they are beautiful though!

it depends... i wouldn't leave a small child out there iwth one alone... but when they are old enough to be told NOT to eat anything from the ground then i don't think i would worry so much

PrettyCandles Sat 24-Sep-05 20:04:11

OK, now how many of these plants did you play with as children?

I can remember picking and playing with at least hyacinths, daffodils, irises, rhododendrons, jasmine, acorns and buttercups. You may say that if I remember it I must have been older, but I also remember my baby sister playing with me in the garden. Neither of us were ever poisoned.

So keep the risks in perspective. It's as much a matter of education as precaution.

Nik72 Sat 24-Sep-05 20:05:34

Oh, I was far to busy playing with sharp knives...

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »