We have been notified that a poisonous plant is being used as decoration in a pot plant that can be purchased in garden centres and possibly florists.

The pot plant is Livistona rotundifolia (footstool palm; also known as Saribus rotundifolius) and pots of these plants are decorated with three fibrous balls. The balls are the skeletonised fruit of Cerbera odollam (suicide tree, pong-pong). Within each fruit is a kernel that is extremely toxic; a single kernel can be fatal if eaten and poses a risk to both pets and people. The toxic compounds in Cerbera odollam are cardiac glycosides, which are also found in foxglove, oleander, lily of the valley and other plants.

Cases of poisoning in cats and dogs are not described in the literature but pets are at risk if they chew the seeds. Signs would be the same as those reported in humans and animals exposed to other cardiac glycosides.