Common Poisonous Plants and Plant Parts

Vegetation helps sustain life. We eat many plants, herbs and so forth in our daily diet. But, we must remember to be choosy. Some plants, trees or shrubs are potential killers of man. Some part of the ornamental plants or flowers in your yard may contain deadly poison. Many poisonous plants are so common and seemingly innocuous you do not suspect their toxic qualities.

For example, who would expect that the beautiful oleander bush-grown indoors and outdoors all over the country-contains a deadly heart stimulant, similar to the drug digitalis?

It is easy to be deceived by plants…one part may be edible while another is poisonous. The following chart lists some of the more common poisonous plants.

Hyacinth, Narcissus, Daffodil Bulbs Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. May be fatal.
Oleander Leaves, branches Extremely poisonous. Affects the heart, produces severe digestive upset and has caused death.
Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane), Elephant Ear All parts Intense burning and irritation of the mouth and tongue. Death can occur if base of the tongue swells enough to block the air passage of the throat.
Rosary Pea, Castor Bean Seeds Fatal. A single Rosary Pea seed has caused death. One or two Castor Bean seeds are near the lethal dose for adults.
Larkspur Young plant, seeds Digestive upset, nervous excitement, depression. May be fatal.
Monkshood Fleshy roots Digestive upset and nervous excitement.
Autumn Crocus, Star of Bethlehem Bulbs Vomiting and nervous excitement.
Lily-of-the-Valley Leaves, flowers Irregular heart beat and pulse, usually accompanied by digestive upset and mental confusion.
Iris Underground stems Severe-but not usually serious-digestive upset.
Foxglove Leaves Large amounts cause dangerously irregular heartbeat and pulse, usually digestive upset and mental confusion. May be fatal.
Bleeding Heart Foliage, roots May be poisonous in large amounts. Has proved fatal to cattle.
Rhubarb Leaf blade Fatal. Large amounts of raw or cooked leaves can cause convulsions, coma, followed rapidly by death.
Daphne Berries Fatal. A few berries can kill a child.
Wisteria Seeds, pods Mild to severe digestive upset. Many children are poisoned by this plant.
Golden Chain Bean-like capsules in which the seeds are suspended Severe poisoning. Excitement, staggering, convulsions and coma. May be fatal.
Laurels, Rhododendrons, Azaleas All parts Fatal. Produces nausea and vomiting, depression, difficult breathing, prostration and coma.
Jasmine Berries Fatal. Digestive disturbance and nervous symptoms.
Lantana Camara (Red Sage) Green berries Fatal. Affects lungs, kidneys, heart and nervous system. Grows in the southern U.S. And in moderate climates.
Yew Berries, foliage Fatal. Foliage more toxic than berries. Death is usually sudden without warning symptoms.
Wild and cultivated cherries Twigs, foliage Fatal. Contains a compound that releases cyanide when eaten. Gasping, excitement and prostration are common symptoms.
Oaks Foliage, acorns Affects kidneys gradually. Symptoms appear only after several days or weeks. Takes a large amount for poisoning.
Elderberry All parts, especially roots Children have been poisoned by using pieces of the pithy stems for blowguns. Nausea and digestive upset.
Black Locust Bark, sprouts, foliage Children have suffered nausea, weakness and depression after chewing the bark and seeds.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit All parts, especially roots Like Dumb Cane, contains small needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate that cause intense irritation and burning of the mouth and tongue.
Moonseed Berries Blue, purple color, resembling wild grapes. May be fatal.
Mayapple Apple, foliage, roots Contains at least 16 active toxic principles, primarily in the roots. Children often eat the apple with no ill effects, but several apples may cause diarrhea.
Mistletoe Berries Fatal. Both children and adults have died from eating the berries.
Water Hemlock All parts Fatal. Violent and painful convulsions. A number of people have died from hemlock.
Buttercups All parts Irritant juices may severely injure the digestive system.
Nightshade All parts, especially the unripened berry Fatal. Intense digestive disturbance and nervous symptoms.
Poison Hemlock All parts Fatal. Resembles a large wild carrot.
Jimson Weed (Thorn Apple) All parts Abnormal thirst, distorted sight, delirium, incoherence and coma. Common cause of poisoning. Has proved fatal.

Treat unknown plants with respect, and teach your children to do the same.

Chart reprinted from materials provided by the Texas State Department of Health and the National Safety Council

Comments are closed.