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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Some plants used for holiday decorating are poisonous and should be kept away from children and pets, a University of Tennessee horticulturist said Wednesday.

 Dr. Mary Albrecht said common holiday plants which are poisonous include:

 — mistletoe, which causes severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, and can be fatal.

 — holly berries, which cause nausea and heavy vomiting, followed by diarrhea.

 — yew shrubs, which resemble non-poisonous evergreens such as pines, firs, cedars, and junipers, and cause dizziness, dry mouth and death by heart failure in severe cases.

 “Use common sense with these plants,” Albert said. “Like anything that is potentially dangerous, keep them out of the reach of small children and pets.”

 Poinsettias, another popular holiday plant, are not poisonous, Albrecht said. However, a false report in 1919 of a child dying from poinsettia poisoning has caused many people to believe otherwise, she said.

 “That story was never confirmed, but it became one of those folk myths that get handed down every year,” Albrecht said. “There has been an exhaustive amount of research conducted to show that poinsettias are not poisonous.”

 For poison information or emergencies, people in Tennessee can call the Southern Poison Control Center in Memphis at 1-800-288-9999.


 Contact: Dr. Mary Albrecht (423-974-7324)