invasive plants toronto ontario

Toxic invasive plant now blooming across Toronto could harm pets and humans if eaten

Toronto residents may want to keep their pets close by this spring, as the City is warning of a common but extremely toxic invasive species now coming into bloom that may be lurking in your garden.

Native to Russia and introduced to North America as an ornamental plant, Siberian Squill (or Scilla) is found in gardens across Toronto. It is prized for its early-spring, cold-resistant bright blue flowers, though officials warn that planting this aesthetically pleasing plant comes with some dangerous caveats.

The species is easily identified by its vibrant blue-violet flowers, which first take a bell-shaped form before sprouting into one-inch-wide blossoms with six petals, each bearing a darker stripe down the middle.

Siberian Squill may look pretty in your garden as an early bloomer breaking the grey spell of the first weeks of spring, but the City is concerned about its tendency to spread into natural areas and its ability to choke out native plant life.

In addition to threatening local ecosystems, these colourful plants can cause serious illness and even death if ingested by humans or pets. The Siberian Squill's bulbs, seeds, leaves and flowers are all toxic and can cause symptoms that include diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain if consumed.

Toronto's Urban Forestry department suggests killing these plants by removing or mowing flowers before their seed pods develop. Digging up bulbs is also recommended, followed by tamping down of soil to decrease disturbance.

However, officials say that "the best management strategy is to avoid planting it in your garden altogether."

Urban Forestry adds that locals looking to add some bright blue colours to their gardens this spring should "instead plant native spring flowering species like Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) or Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)."

Lead photo by

City of Toronto

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