5 Poisonous Cacti to Keep Away From Children and Pets

You might be surprised to know that most cacti aren’t poisonous. However, you might want to keep your distance, specially from these ones.

By: THURSD. | 06-04-2024 | 5 min read
Floral Education Garden Plants Indoor Plants
Poisonous Cacti

Cacti can be great friends to humans, or the complete opposite as well. It all depends on the type of cactus you own or go near. For this reason, it's essential to know the different types of cacti that are harmless to your environment (including pets), and the ones to stay away from. This is a compilation of five poisonous cacti to keep away from children and pets hurriedly.

These Are 5 Poisonous Cacti to Keep Out of Children and Pet Reach

Cacti have several poisonous species and you'll want to avoid them at all costs because they can really endanger your children's and pets' lives. It's always better to be safe than sorry. These are the five poisonous cacti to keep away from your loved ones asap:


List of five poisonous cacti on Thursd
Photo: San Pedro Island


1. Beware of the Beautiful Peyote Cactus

First on the list is the popular Peyote Cactus (Lophophora williamsii), which is considered a succulent that grows slowly and lacks spines that don't seem to make it dangerous... But hold on! The little peyote cactus is famed for its spiritual and medicinal use among indigenous tribes in North America. Its psychedelic substance mescaline makes it both revered and controversial. While technically not "poisonous" in the traditional sense, consuming this plant can result in severe psychological effects. These effects from this plant start to appear two hours after intake. This is definitely not something you want your kids and pets to consume as they could be harmful, particularly for children and pets.


Among five poisonous cacti for children and pets is the Peyote cacti on Thursd
Photo: Iceers


You should be cautious! While Peyote isn’t lethal, consumption can lead to hallucinations and serious psychological effects. Make sure to appreciate its beauty from a distance, admiring the lovely pink flowers it produces. And remember, this plant is protected due to its endangered status in many regions. So, admire it, but don't touch or disturb it!

2. The Fishhook Barrel Cactus Is a Thorny Surprise

Next on this thrilling tour, meet the Fishhook Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus wislizenii). This sturdy plant stands out with its barrel shape, thick ribs, and distinctive curved spines resembling fishhooks, hence the name.

But here's the catch - it carries a toxic secret in its flesh, which, if consumed, can cause temporary paralysis. Its fruit, however, is edible and quite a favorite among local wildlife. This is a perfect example of the many faces nature can have.


fishhook barrel cactus - poisonous for kids
Picture by @donnamstevensphotography


Despite its dangerous side, Fishhook Barrel Cactus is a great ornamental plant due to its unique appearance and vibrant flowers. Just remember to admire its beauty without getting too close.


3. Why the San Pedro Cactus Screams Danger

Screams danger from where you see it and you're about to know why. The San Pedro cactus is considered one of the five most poisonous cacti for children and pets because it is a very strong hallucinogen. Like the Peyote cactus, it contains mescaline (which is also a forbidden substance in many nations), a psychedelic hallucinogen, which is dangerously high in this cactus, it is a recognized toxic plant.


_San Pedro cactus is one of the most poisonous and hallucinogen cacti on Thursd
Photo: Flora Grubb


4. A Cholla Cactus Shoots Needles

The cactus species Cylindropuntia also referred to as the Cholla cactus, joins the list of five poisonous cacti to keep away from the reach of children and pets. Depending on the soil's characteristics, this cactus can reach a variety of different heights.


Poisonous Cholla cacti on Thursd
Photo: Learn About Nature

Because it shoots needles, this cactus should be completely avoided. If spiked with one of their needles, both humans and animals may experience abdominal issues due to the spines' toxic nature, which contains poison.


5. The Barrel Cactus Has Toxic Sap

To end the interesting selection of poisonous cacti for children and pets we have the barrel cactus. Echinocactus grusonii, also called the barrel cactus, has a distinctive barrel shape and long spines that characterize its appearance. Although the barrel cactus brings out its red blooms in the warmer months, don't let it fool you with its beauty.


One of five poisonous cacti is known as the barrel cactus on Thursd
Photo: The Columbus Dispatch

A barrel cactus has toxic sap, meaning it has a high potential of irritating the skin. Children and animals may also be harmed by the plant's spines.

Many cacti lovers may be unaware of several poisonous factors, which is why it's important to keep this list in mind. Don't forget that the Peyote cactus, Fishook Barrel Cactus, San Pedro cactus, Cholla cactus, and Barrel cactus are five poisonous cacti to keep away from children and pets.

The Double Dealing of Poisonous Cactus Fruits

Let's also uncover the hidden aspects of cactus fruits. While most cacti bear edible and nutrition-rich fruits, some varieties hide a potentially harmful surprise. Here are two such deceptive beauties:

While their fruits are technically edible, they come covered with tiny spines called glochids. These can be a nuisance if not properly handled or ingested, causing skin irritation and discomfort. Always handle these fruits with care, preferably using protective gloves.

Remember, it’s all about knowing how to safely enjoy these fascinating plants. Edible doesn’t always mean easy!


One of the most poisonous cacti for children and pets is the prickly pear cactus on Thursd
Photo: Gardeners Path


Mescaline Containing Cacti Beauties to Beware

Continuing this exciting journey, here are the five poisonous cactus varieties to beware of, each hiding its toxicity beneath an alluring facade.

These stunning species all contain mescaline and can have psychedelic effects if ingested. Despite their toxicity, these cacti are popular in ornamental horticulture due to their distinctive shapes and beautiful flowers.

The key here is to remember that even though these plants have a toxic side, they still contribute significantly to biodiversity and add unique aesthetic appeal to any landscape. As with every plant, handling these cacti requires knowledge, respect, and care. Don't let the toxic tag put you off. Embrace the thrill of knowing more about these unusual species. Each cactus, toxic or not, carries an intriguing story of survival, resilience, and adaptation that is sure to inspire any plant lover.



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