Is Fothergilla Poisonous?

Fothergilla is a genus of shrubs popular for their year-round beauty in the landscape. Fothergilla is not known to be poisonous to kids, pets, or livestock. It is important to note that fothergilla belongs to the witch hazel family, Hamamelidaceae. Plants in this family are generally unpalatable to people and animals, having a bitter flavor that many animals will avoid. Some plants in the witch hazel family contain small amounts of safrole, a compound that is carcinogenic. However, large amounts of these plants would have to be eaten to be a concern. Fothergilla is not listed as a toxic plant by the ASPCA or any other poisonous plant database. 


Is Fothergilla Poisonous to Children?

Fothergilla is an excellent plant to add to your garden if you have children. It is not poisonous to kids, and it is safe for small amounts of leaves, buds, and flowers to be consumed. Fothergilla is also safe to touch and will not cause a reaction to the skin. The main concern of eating fothergilla is the potential choking hazard it poses since its tissues may be hard to digest. Regardless, it is unlikely that babies or children will eat fothergilla due to its unpleasant, astringent taste. 

Is Fothergilla Poisonous to Dogs?

Fothergilla is not a preferred plant for dogs to munch on, but puppies may be tempted to chew on the twigs and branches when they are teething. While not shown to be toxic to dogs, they may inadvertently swallow pieces of the twigs and bark while chewing on the plant. This can cause damage to their mouths, throats, and digestive systems, as the woody tissue can splinter and be hard to digest. 

Is Fothergilla Poisonous to Cats?

Cats are known to nibble on plants for many reasons, although it is unlikely that they will eat fothergilla. This plant is suitable for yards where cats frequently roam since it is non-toxic and unappetizing to felines. 

Is Fothergilla Poisonous to Other Animals?

Most livestock will not eat fothergilla. It is not known to be toxic to horses, goats, sheep, pigs, or cows. Deer and rabbits will occasionally consume fothergilla when little else is available to eat. 

Symptoms Of Fothergilla Poisoning

While fothergilla is not toxic, eating too much of it may cause unpleasant symptoms for children, pets, and other animals. Always check with your doctor or veterinarian for guidance if you suspect fothergilla poisoning. 

Here are some common symptoms to look out for:

  • Stomach and abdominal pain
  • Vomiting 
  • Constipation 
  • Nausea

Preventing Fothergilla Poisoning

Fothergilla is a great plant to grow that is safe for people and animals to consume in small quantities. If you are worried about damage to the plant or symptoms from excessive consumption, there are several measures you can take. Always supervise your children and pets when they are outside. Install physical barriers, such as fencing, to prevent livestock, deer, and rabbits from eating your fothergilla. Consider growing wheatgrass for your pets to eat in the case of nutrient deficiencies. 

Pet Poison Helpline

If something were to happen to your furry friend, and you suspect that they are suffering from fothergilla poisoning, there is a poison control hotline to call for 24/7 vet advice. It is called the Pet Poison Hotline, and their phone number is (855) 764-7661.

Sources: "Fothergilla." American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

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Lauren Youngcourt - Published 07-17-2023