Is Foxtail Fern Poisonous for Pets?

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Unlike its edible relative, asparagus, foxtail ferns should not be eaten.

Foxtail fern, or Asparagus densiflorus "Meyersii," is a plant that is closely related to the familiar garden asparagus. It is also commonly referred to as the asparagus fern and the emerald fern. It has berries that are toxic to both animals and humans. It isn't safe for animals to ingest either the berries or the plant itself.


The foxtail fern develops red berries just before it blooms. These berries are toxic to both humans and animals. Animals should not be allowed to eat the berries, as they can cause digestive problems and stomach pain.


Though the berries are the most toxic portion of the foxtail fern, the plant itself is dangerous for animals to eat because of its spiky, thorny structure. Its thorns and spiky leaves can scape the inside of an animals mouth and throat. The plant itself can also cause skin irritations made more severe by its rough texture.

Symptoms if Ingested

Though the berries are more poisonous than the plant itself, neither should be ingested by an animal. Common symptoms after ingesting foxtail fern include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The animal can also have an allergic reaction to the berries, causing swelling of the mouth and throat. The animal should be taken to the vet immediately for care.

Contact Symptoms

Foxtail fern is not only toxic if ingested. The plant itself can cause skin irritation, especially if the animal repeatedly rubs against it. Skin can begin to burn or itch. Irritation usually subsides after several minutes, but the plant should be kept out of reach of pets.

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Mary Sharp

Mary Sharp has been writing professionally since 2007. Many of her articles appear online, specializing in the diet and habitat of wild animals. Sharp has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Texas and is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in English at the University of North Texas.