I'm afraid that Day 2's post will be a recap of Day 1 events. This will be an educational post, a horticultural post and a warning all wrapped up in one.
Yesterday was beautiful here. Sixty six degrees and sunny with a warm breeze and no clouds anywhere. My girls were so excited, and if I'm honest, so was I, so we all decided to walk to the park and back.
On the way back I picked some Mistletoe and gave a piece to both Kinsey and Kalei and explained about people kissing under it. They thought that was fun, and then I showed the girls some cool white berries on a tree. It was very pretty in the late afternoon sun, and they begged me to pick some for them too.
The only branch hanging low enough only afforded us about 5 of the white berries, but the girls were satisfied with their little twigs with berries.
Now, at that point, I told them not to eat or try to taste them. I wasn't sure what kind of tree it was, but anything with that many berries in the middle of winter must not be edible because even the birds and squirrels hadn't eaten them. They agreed and we carried on.
When we got home, we were all tired. I served up dinner and after dinner everyone cut loose from the table and went to do prospective projects solo. The girls set about cleaning their room so they could watch a movie before bed. I worked on homeschool prep for the following week and Ken.....well, he was somewhere, as was Keith who was probably upstairs trying to undo the girls cleaning.
So the cleaning is almost done. I walk into the living room to straighten up a bit, and find one of the berries half chewed up. I immediately think, 'oh crap, I better figure out what those were'.
The movie comes on, the kids and dad are watching, while I furiously google white berries on a tree in Texas. It doesn't take long and I find the name - Chinaberry is the common name, or White Cedar, but the latin is Melia azedarach. There is no doubt in my horticulture mind. I remember seeing this very tree in leaf and the leaves as well as the fruit and form match the Chinaberry pictures and descriptions.
Under toxicity it says 'highly toxic' and lists a whole gamut of possible symptoms and consequences. So I google another page about the plant, to cross reference, it says 'eating as few as 7 fruits could prove fatal', and so on. Every site said it was on the highly poisonous list.
I called poison control while Ken and the girls tried to find all the berries to see how many Keith might have eaten. We found one chewed. I knew of one other that should have been in the same vicinity as the chewed one, but it was missing. We sent Kinsey off to find her other three berries that she said she had in her room.
Poison control asks how long it had been. At this point it had been less than a hour since the berry had been found, and there are still several berries missing. She said take him to the emergency room.
We can't afford another unnecessary emergency room visit, so I call the ER and ask them what they will do in such a case. I said bluntly that if they are just going to observe him for a few hours, then we can't afford that, but the ER said they would only call poison control and ask them what they would recommend.
Ah, so I called poison control back and got a different woman. By then, we had found all the berries, I could tell her more surely that he had only chewed two berries (swallowing none) and that it had been over an hour at this point. Based on his age, weight, and current behavior (walking around happy and singing), she said to just keep an eye on him.
So, we did. We kept that poor boy up 2 more hours. He was fine, and I was fine. After a cup of ginger tea with chamomile my nerves and stomach were both more settled and so we all went to bed.
I tell you all of this because a) don't give your kids plants that you can't identify b) Chinaberries are very poisonous c) we averted an emergency room visit because I knew enough to call around and get all my information.
Be informed, and encouraged.