10 Common Poisonous Plants And How To Identify Them

Pictures of poisonous plants can help you to identify vegetation and berries that should not be touched or eaten. Some weeds can cause rashes on contact. This list includes information about beneficial weeds and natural remedies that help counteract the itching caused by a couple of noxious weeds.
1. Poison Ivy

Poison ivy’s rash-inducing quality comes from an oil called urushiol. While the leaves are the most toxic part of the plant, contact with any part (even when the plant is bare of foliage) can cause an allergic reaction. The oil is tenacious; if it gets onto your clothing or pet, you can wind up with a rash long after you leave the woods. Jewel weed is considered a natural remedy for poison ivy rash. Like poison ivy, jewel weed is very common; it is easy to identify jewel weed, once you recognize its cornucopia-shaped flower with a distinct little tail.

2. Bittersweet Nightshade

Bittersweet nightshade is a very common weed and is especially dangerous to have around kids, as kids are attracted to its brightly colored berries. Relatively few people can identify bittersweet nightshade on their property. It is often confused with American bittersweet and Oriental bittersweet plants.


3. Chinese Lanterns

Related to bittersweet nightshade (and equally toxic) is the Chinese lantern plant which is commonly grown by crafts enthusiasts. The initial color of the pods’ husks is green. This color changes to yellow late in the summer. By fall, it is a rich orange. The colorful pods are used in dried floral arrangements and wreaths.


4. Foxglove

Foxgloves are tall, flowering biennials that grow well in a spot with dry shade. They bloom with multiple tubular, often freckled, flowers that form on a spike in colors ranging from purple to white. But they are among the most toxic specimens commonly grown on the landscape. Do not grow them if small children will be spending time in the yard.


5. Mountain Laurel

If you live in the country in eastern North America, you may have some mountain laurel growing wild in your backyard. Cultivars of mountain laurel are also sold at nurseries, including the beautiful Minuet laurel. Like mountain laurel, azaleas and rhododendrons belong to the heath family and are toxic. Do not let pets nibble on any of these shrubs.


6. Castor Beans

Castor bean is a tropical plant widely grown as an annual in northern climates, often as a potted plant for patios, decks, or porches. The leaves, stalk, and seed-heads are all attractive. The laxative, castor oil, is derived from castor bean plants, but so is the deadly toxin, ricin.


7. Yew Shrubs

Yew bushes can be grown in sun or shade. This plant’s shade tolerance gives landscape designers an important option in challenging areas. But its fleshy, bright-red berries contain a seed that is toxic. The needle-like leaves are also poisonous, so do not let pets or kids chew on them.


8. Poison Sumac

Poison sumac can cause a rash if you touch the leaves or berries. It gives all sumac shrubs a bad name, despite the fact that most are quite harmless and beautiful in fall. Poison sumac has leaves made up of 5 to 13 leaflets (always an odd number), a red stem, and white oddly-shaped berries.


9. Easter Lily

“Easter” lilies is a misnomer for these toxic trumpet-shaped flowers. You can thank the workers at a greenhouse somewhere for your being able to inhale their heady perfume at Easter in cold climates. The workers had to take great pains to trick them into blooming out of season. In fact, gardeners in northern climates cannot expect Easter lilies to bloom outdoors much earlier than July when most of the other popular lilies flower. More problematic is the fact that Easter lilies are a deadly poison to cats, as are Stargazer lilies.


10. Stinging Nettle

Like poison sumac and poison ivy, stinging nettles, as its name suggests, is not a plant you want to brush up against when working out in the yard. Your skin will burn with a painful itch for a short time after contact with its rash-inducing spines. Don’t confuse stinging nettles with dead-nettles, a perennial used as a ground cover in shady areas.

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse