Father says side effects started within an hour of consumption
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A Bend man says three of his children were hospitalized after mistaking a toxic plant for wild onion and consuming it. Now, he wants to warn others of the potentially deadly plant.
The man, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Jordan, said his 12-year-old daughter and 10-year old and 7-year-old sons picked up what they thought were wild onions in the public land behind their home in Bend on Monday and asked him and his wife if they could eat them.
“They found these wild onions, and they asked if they could cook them up and eat them as part of their meal,” Jordan said Tuesday. “We said yes.”
He said the children chopped up the plants and used them as toppings on their tacos.
“Within an hour or so, all three of them got really sick,” Jordan said.
He said the effects worsened quickly. The children became pale and light-headed, then started vomiting.
He said his wife gave them charcoal tablets to suppress their stomach aches while they consulted a nurse over the phone.
They found out the children had not consumed wild onions, but instead, a toxic plant called death camas.
“It blew me away that I had never heard about this plant before,” Jordan said.
Jordan said the children were taken to St. Charles Redmond.
He said his daughter and 10-year-old son were airlifted, while he accompanied his 7-year-old son in an ambulance to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.
He said toxicologists there confirmed the plants the children had consumed were death camas, which contributed to the children’s rapidly decreasing heart rate.
NewsChannel 21 spoke with Professor Amy Jo Detweiler, a horticulturist for OSU Extension Service offices in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties.
She said death camas can be found in a variety of forms across Central Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. She said it can be toxic to humans, wild animals and livestock if consumed.
“The death camas should not have an odor,” Detweiler said. “Wild onion would smell like wild onion. Camas has a creamy white flower on it, and all parts of the plant are poisonous to humans.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says if the bulbs are eaten, the effects may be lethal. The USDA also says death camas poisoning is more common in the spring when the plant is more abundant.
Jordan said his children are recovering, and doctors said they can expect to come home Wednesday.
He said he wants to warn other people, especially parents, to be more cautious of plants in the wild, and to not consume them without consulting an expert first.