The Rose of Sharon is a flowering shrub that can brighten a garden, but it may also cause problems for pets. Known scientifically as Hibiscus syriacus, the Rose of Sharon shrub originated in Asia and is now found widely in many gardens across the United States. The flowers of this tree are known to cause worrisome, but not fatal, reactions when eaten by cats and other domesticated animals.
The Rose of Sharon grows to the height of 8 to 12 feet and has a spread of 4 to 6 feet. The shrub blooms at the end of the summer, typically during the months of August and September. The blooms may be pink, red, lavender, white or light blue. The flowers are approximately 4 inches wide and are either single or double. The Rose of Sharon has a sturdy tree-like trunk and leaves that are about 3 inches wide and bright green in color.
Which Animals are at Risk?
The Rose of Sharon is a toxic plant according to the ASPCA. The animals that are the most likely to be effected by the toxins in the Rose of Sharon are cats, dogs and horses. It is thought that the flowers have a pleasant taste and are especially tempting to dogs.
Animals that eat Rose of Sharon often vomit, experience diarrhea and nausea. Irritation of the throat and mouth can occur in animals that ingest the plant. This shrub is not deadly and almost all of the animals that eat the flowers or leaves of the Rose of Sharon do not require veterinary care. The toxin responsible for causing illness is unknown.
What To Do
If a pet has consumed Rose of Sharon blossoms or leaves, the owner should keep an eye on the animal for serious reactions. A single incident of vomiting or diarrhea is not a cause for alarm. The animal's system is simply trying to get rid of the offending contents. However, if the animal continues to vomit for more than 12 hours or if blood is spotted in the pet's stool, contact a vet immediately. This may be a sign of a more serious problem that requires immediate attention.
The easiest way to avoid potential illness caused by animals consuming the Rose of Sharon flowers is to refrain from planting it or by removing the shrub all together if it is found growing on your property. Keeping this plant pruned so that the branches are out of reach of animals is strongly suggested. Promptly raking up any fallen buds, blossoms or leaves can help to avoid illness in pets as well. Remember to get permission from neighbors before cutting any foliage that originates from their yard.
- ASPCA: Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants
- VeterinaryPartner.com: Safe Gardening
- University of California: Know Your Plants--Safe or Poisonous?
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Vetrinary Medicine Library: Plants Toxic To Animals
- Healthy Dogs: When To Call The Vet
- University of Florida IFAS Extention: Hibiscus syriacus: Rose-of-Sharon
River Hebda, a freelancer born and raised in Western Massachusetts, began her writing career in 2001 as a business writer. She has worked with clients in many fields, including food and beverage, music and sports. Hebda earned her Bachelor of Arts in business management from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.