Tropical trees usually bring me visions of balmy ocean breezes and a hammock, but there is palm tree that is extremely dangerous to people and pets – a true wolf in sheep’s clothing – it’s the Sago Palm (cycas revolta). The reality is if a loved one, human or furry, is exposed to this plant, your dreamy vision will quickly change to a reality of doctors, hospitals, and quite possibly a cemetery.
Though commonly referred to as a palm, it is actually a member of the Cycad family. The cycas revolta – it has stocky, spiked leaves that stay green all year long.
The seeds are so poisonous that the effect on humans and pets alike is seizures, coma, and death from a chemical called Cycasin.
Symptoms of ingestion will generally appear within 12 hours and are similar to suffocation as the cells of the body will no longer be able to use oxygen. Things to look for are general weakness, confusion, vomiting, diarrhea, bizarre behavior, excessive sleepiness, shortness of breath, and seizures. Your pet may appear bruised and could have a nose bleed and blood in the stool.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports fatality rates as high as 75 percent from ingestion of this plant, and they say that these incidences have risen over 200% in the last five years.
So why are we able to walk into a nursery or home improvement center and not find a warning label on the Sago Palm container? This question was posed to me by a man who lost his cat to the cycas revolta. He has created a website with facts, heartbreaking stories, and a place to sign a petition to help get warning labels on all Sago Palms. Check out his site at http://www.mo-driver.com/sago-palm-plants-kill.htm
Since I live in the southwest Sago Palms generally remain outside all year long. Though location indoors or out doesn’t exempt anyone from exposure to this toxic plant, in northern states the palm is brought inside during colder months, making it an easier target for curious children and animals. Buyer beware! If you still choose to purchase a Sago Palm, please be sure to protect yourself and all children and animals from this deadly cycas revolta posing as an innocent plant. Revolting indeed!
Note: Other plants often found in and around homes that are harmful to animals are azalea, rhododendron, lilies, kalanchoe, and schefflera. Lilies are especially toxic to cats, and even in small amounts can cause kidney failure.
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