Recently on Facebook in a group I am a part of someone posted about a plant they didn’t know after discovering that her daughter ate some of the fruit. I can imagine the fear that must be in her mind. I have 5 children and would panic as well if one of them ingested something that could be a poison. As it turns out I knew what the plant was when she posted the picture, an Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatum).
This viburnum is reportedly only toxic if consumed in large quantities. I’ve never tasted our Arrowwood viburnum and there really isn’t much flesh on the seeds to eat, but I can tell you it’s a beautiful plant that the birds really love. That is entirely why I planted it in the garden and it spurred my fondness for other varieties of viburnum.
This experience does bring to mind something extremely important that we should never forget – children should never eat anything from the garden without their parent’s knowing about it first. Over the years I’ve made sure our kids understand what is safe in the yard to eat and what is not. I also try to avoid planting anything in the garden that has severely toxic fruit.
The child was actually in a relative’s yard and probably mistook the blue viburnum berries for actual blue berries. To an experienced gardener they are easy to tell apart but it would be an easy mistake for a young kid to make. There are some plants that can be easily confused by a child and that’s why the basic understanding of “check with me first” needs to be understood by kids. If you don’t know what it is then nobody needs to eat it.
There are many toxic plants out there so please if you have children in the garden teach them not to eat anything they cannot recognize 100% as being edible!
Here’s some information on propagating arrowwood viburnum.