Is Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) Toxic to Cats?

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  • Is Norfolk Island pine toxic to cats?

    Norfolk pine is non-toxic to cats and is safe to keep as a Christmas tree or an ornamental plant in the garden.

    What is Norfolk Island pine?

    Family Araucariaceae
    Botanical name Araucaria heterophylla
    Common names Norfolk pine, Norfolk Island pine, Australian pine, Star pine, Polynesian pine, Living Christmas tree, Triangle tree
    Mature height 100 foot (30 metres)
    Needle retention Good
    Scent Herbal, pine
    Native to North America
    Toxicity Non-toxic to cats

     

    Norfolk Island pine is a conifer tree, and a relative to the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), native to Norfolk Island in the Pacific Islands. Young Norfolk Island pine trees are a popular Christmas tree and indoor plant due to their lush foliage and ease of care. Adult trees can reach up to 30 metres (100 feet) tall.

    The wild population of Norfolk Island pine is considered as threatened in IUCN Red List and is categorised as vulnerable unless the circumstances that threaten its survival improve.

    Care

    Norfolk Island pine is easy as long as their needs are met. They like to grow in well-drained soil in a sunny position. Water when the top 3 cm of soil has dried out and fertilise every 2-3 months during the active growing season.

    Safety

    While Norfolk Island pine is non-toxic, fertilisers and pest control can be potentially toxic to cats, therefore we recommend homes use cat-safe products to prevent accidental poisoning.

    Ingestion of large volumes of needles can potentially lead to a gastrointestinal obstruction but this is unlikely as the needles act as a deterrent. If you do have a cat who is interested in eating the plant, consider moving it to another location the cat cannot access and bring in some cat-friendly plants such as catnip or cat grass.

    Secure the Christmas tree to a wall to prevent the tree from accidentally toppling over.

    Avoid tinsel in homes with cats as ingestion can cause gastrointestinal obstruction or telescoping of the intestines. Place breakable ornaments high on the tree to prevent the cat from pulling them off and breaking them.

    Unplug Christmas lights when there is no supervision to prevent accidental electrocution.

    Toxicity of other Christmas plants

    Common name

    Scientific name

    Toxicity level

    Norway spruce Picea abies Non-toxic
    Blue spruce Picea pungens Non-toxic
    Serbian spruce Picea omorika Non-toxic
    White spruce Picea glauca Non-toxic
    Nordmann fir Abies nordmanniana Non-toxic
    Fraser fir Abies fraseri Non-toxic
    Douglas fir Pseudotsuga menziesii Non-toxic
    Noble fir Abies procera Non-toxic
    Balsam fir Abies balsamea Non-toxic
    Grand fir Abies grandis Non-toxic
    Scotch pine Pinus sylvestris No information available
    White pine Pinus strobus No information available
    Virginian pine Pinus virginiana Listed as toxic to dogs, no information on cats
    Norfolk Island
    pine
    , house pine
    Araucaria heterophylla Non-toxic

    Author

    • Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio