Parents issue warning after daughter eats poisonous yew berries in NYC park

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KIPS BAY, Manhattan (WPIX) — New York City parks cover nearly 30,000 acres of land. On it you will find a number of varieties of plant life, but have you ever given thought to whether they are all safe?

One Manhattan mom said she had a scare with her two year old and now she wants others to be aware.

Natalie Gruppuso and her husband say their daughter Joy, 2, ate at berries she found in the water fountain at the Asser Levy Playground in Kips Bay.

"Before he could get to her, he saw her put one in her mouth and swallow it and he immediately grabbed her," explained Gruppuso.

Gruppuso said a Google image search confirmed the bright red berries to be yew berries, appealing to small children but also dangerous if consumed.

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A call to the National Poison Control Center and seven hours in the emergency room later confirmed their daughter was safe.

Little Joy was not poisoned but had she eaten more, her heart could have stopped.

According to the National Poison Control website, seeds of the yew berry and its leaves are potentially lethal.

"It was 6 o'clock when this happened. The idea of putting her to bed and her not wake up in the morning was terrifying," recalled Gruppuso.

Since that Sept. 17th day, Gruppuso and her husband have been rallying support from local parents through a petition.

They are demanding the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation remove these plants or at least put up some signs warning parents of its location.

According to a NYC Parks spokesperson issued the following statement:

"New York City parks are places for kids to grow, learn, and explore, and it's imperative that all children under 12 are supervised while doing so. Nobody should eat anything growing in a park."

NYC Parks added that they are taking the matter seriously and reviewing next best steps for addressing this species when found in playgrounds.

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