Deadly Plants- "Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow"

Brunfelsia is a very common evergreen shrub in Brisbane as it is a hardy, easy to grow and a pretty plant. It has flowers that change colour over a couple of days (hence the common name “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow”). The flowers are initially violet they then fade to lavender blue and then to white.

The problem is that ALL parts of this plant, especially the berries, are toxic if chewed/ingested by our pets. Young dogs are most commonly affected due to their inclination to chew on anything.

It can take 15-18 hours for signs of toxicity to develop so you might not associate the illness with your dogs “gardening”.

Signs of toxicity include depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle tremors, wobbly gait and seizures (convulsions) and death. Some dogs drool profusely or sneeze a lot due to oro-nasal irritation and can initially look like a toad toxicity, others may look like a snail bait poisoning. It’s not until plant material (seeds or leaves) are found in vomit or diarrhoea or on a rectal examination that a definitive diagnosis can be made.

Treatment requires hospitalisation and is supportive i.e. there is no antidote. Depending on the amount ingested and severity of signs treatment may involve
- Decontamination – removing any plant material still in the gastrointestinal tract by inducing vomiting, giving an enema or in severe cases a full general anaesthetic maybe required to enable gastric and colon lavage. Activated charcoal is also used to try and bind any toxin remaining in the gastrointestinal tract.
-Medical support – Intravenous fluid and medications to control the temperature, tremors and any seizures until the toxin clears from their system which can take several days.

The best way to avoid toxicity is avoidance – do not plant a “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” plant in your garden and if you have this plant in your yard then remove it –roots and all!