Nandina is one of the most common ornamental plants in our area. It’s marketed under many names, including “heavenly bamboo,” but it is neither heavenly nor bamboo. It’s a highly invasive and poisonous domestic plant that can kill animals in your neighborhood.
Nandina owes its popularity to the fact that it’s a brightly colored evergreen with beautiful red berries that remain through winter. This trait makes the toxic berries even more dangerous. In winter, most berries become more scarce and birds that depend on fruit gravitate toward the plentiful and attractive berries of nandina plants. They have no way to know that the berries are poisonous and will kill them.
Native birds aren’t the only ones that suffer: raccoons, cats, and livestock can also become extremely sick after eating nandina berries and leaves.
If you have nandina plants growing on your property, please destroy them, or, at the very least, cut off the berries to avoid unintentionally poisoning your wild neighbors. If you’re the crafty type, the berries can be brought indoors and repurposed for crafts and decor!