Bougainvillea Dangers

Written by ginger yapp
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Bougainvillea Dangers
Bougainvillea thorns contain a substance dangerous to humans and animals. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Bougainvillea -- a plant often grown in gardens and admired for its colourful blooms -- is thought of as a poisonous plant, but in actuality, it is classified as a mildly toxic plant. The plant, native to the coast of Brazil, is safe to keep around children or pets because it is only toxic when ingested in large quantities. People who begin to experience side-effects are urged to call the nearest poison control centre.

Poisonous Thorns

Most bougainvillea varieties have sharp, stout thorns that are poisonous to humans, especially if the thorn is not immediately removed from a person's skin. People who have been pricked by a bougainvillea thorn have reported dermatitis, a skin disease characterised by painful swelling and itchiness. The effect is similar to that of poison oak or poison ivy. The thorn's toxicity is derived from the waxy sap contained inside.

Human Consumption

While bougainvillea is only mildly toxic, according to the Minnesota Center for Poison Control, the substance inside of its thorns can be poisonous if ingested in large quantities. The leaves of the plant, however, are not known to be toxic or at all dangerous to humans or animals.


Bougainvillea can overtake your garden if you don't keep cutting it back, endangering the health of your other plants and encroaching upon your living area. Bougainvillea must be regularly maintained and manicured to prevent it from growing out of control.

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