Letters to the Editor

Weeds can be more than noxious | Letters

Recently the noxious weed control program office got a call saying that a pre-school child had become immediately ill after eating some leaves; would we come and identify the plant and ascertain if it was poisonous?

The plant was Spurge Laurel (Daphne laureola) and was growing throughout the yard where the child was playing. Spurge laurel is one of the most toxic plants that we have in our county. All parts of the plant are poisonous, with the sap causing varying degrees of dermatitis and even a small number of the attractive blue/black berries are potentially fatal for a child.

Spurge laurel is a listed Class B noxious weed selected for control in San Juan County and was the subject of a flyer sent out with the tax bills to all county land owners. This flyer outlines the necessary control methods for this plant. In this instance, the child vomited the small amount of leaves that she had consumed and no harm was done.

It could have been, however, far more serious. We are asking that that everyone check areas where children play, especially in schoolyards and around homes for this weed. If you have questions about identifying Spurge Laurel or would like us to look at a site, please call the noxious weed control program, at 376-3499.

Rich Lee/Orcas Island

— Editor’s note: Rich Lee is the Noxious Weed Control Program coordinator.


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