Toxic cuts: Why garden tools and kitchen utensils should not mingle

Green thumbs down

to using kitchen scissors to cut flowers...

...that could cause your family grief. Will you remember to clean the scissors well before their next use?

It’s great to bring early spring beauties indoors where you can appreciate them at close range but remember that our garden plants are also potent chemical factories.

Easy mistake

We were outdoors momentarily, leaving dinner prep to answer a neighbor’s question about a flower. (Cut up salad greens or talk about flowers? No contest!) On impulse we snipped three flowers as we turned to go back indoors.

While admiring them later that day we realized two are capable of leaving toxic residue on the scissors.

Clockwise from the foreground flower: Iris reticulata, snow crocus (Crocus minimus) and Lenten rose (Helleborus hybrid).

Clockwise from the foreground flower: Iris reticulata, snow crocus (Crocus minimus) and Lenten rose (Helleborus hybrid).

Three beauties, two potential troublemakers.

Iris reticulata has sap that can burn the skin of some people. All parts of Lenten rose (Helleborus hybrid) can cause pretty nasty digestive trouble and affect the heart. Only the crocus is innocent of potential harm.

There are worse plants. Ingest even a small amount of monkshood (Aconitum species) sap, leaf or root and, per The American Medical Association Guide to Poisonous and Dangerous Plants, “death often precedes medical attention.”

So keep the kitchen implements out of the garden or very well washed after crossover use. You can bet our kitchen scissors are now spotless!