Children’s ability to identify common plants is a necessary prerequisite for learning botany.
However, recent work has shown that children lack positive attitudes toward plants and
are unable to identify them. We examined children’s (aged 10-17) ability to discriminate
between common toxic and non-toxic plants and their mature fruits presented in a
colourful PowerPoint presentation. We found that toxic plants were less well known than
plants with edible fruits and those younger children were more willing to consume toxic
fruits than older children. Children abilities to distinguish toxic and non-toxic plants did
not increase with age suggesting that school does not play the primary role in building
children’s knowledge about toxic plants. This study supports the idea that children’s
knowledge about plants is limited and more effort should be dedicated to teaching about
toxic plants that are often harmful especially to inexperienced children.