Toddler rushed to hospital after eating one of UK’s most deadly plants in garden


A toddler was rushed to hospital after eating one of the UK’s most deadly plants while out playing in the garden.

Young Richard, two, had eaten a wild flower while his mum Megan Joseph was kicking back and relaxing in the sunshine with her partner Richard McKay.

The tot, known as Little Richard, had eaten a hemlock plant, a notoriously poisonous plant that grows umbrella-like clusters of white flowers in summer.

He’d taken a bite out of the plant while playing in their North Elmham garden near Dereham, Norfolk, with his parents taking their eye off the toddler for a split second.

He was urged to spit it out straight away but a concerned Megan called 111 just to make sure, given that it was likely he had swallowed some of the small-sized flowers.

He was then rushed to A&E where he was looked after for around five hours.

“The doctor told us if he had swallowed the whole thing within two or three hours he could have ended up with paralysis or in cardiac arrest,” Megan, 28, told the East Anglian Daily Times.

To avoid a repeat of the near-fateful incident, her partner, known as Big Richard, got rid of all the remaining plants from the garden.

Megan is now urging parents to be vigilant about the plant and to keep an eye out for them in either their gardens or when playing out in local parks.

The alkaloids in a hemlock plant can affect nerve impulse transmission to your muscles, eventually killing you through respiratory failure. For some people, even touching the plant may cause a painful skin reaction.

The stem of a hemlock has purple spots and the plant can grow up to nine feet tall.

According to, the roots of poison hemlock can easily be mistaken for wild parsnips, while the leaves can be mistaken for parsley, and this is the primary reason for accidental poisoning.

Poison hemlock is often found on roadsides, in waste areas and near fences.

Common symptoms of hemlock poisoning may include: trembling, burning in the digestive tract, increased salivation, dilated pupils, muscle pain, muscle weakness or muscle paralysis, rapid heart rate followed by a decreased heart rate, loss of speech, convulsions, unconsciousness or coma.

Megan wants more people to be aware of the plant and added: “We watch Little Richard all the time but with toddlers, it can be really hard to stop them from putting things in their mouth.

“So the best thing to do if they eat something you aren’t sure about is ring 111 and get help as soon as you can.”