7 Common Poisonous Plants And How To Identify Them


We all have these images of hiking through the wilderness as being full of babbling brooks, tranquil forests, and peace that is unrivaled anywhere else in the world. Spending time outside is very beneficial to the health of individuals so we are not saying to spend time outdoors, however, there are some risks that are associated with the great outdoors and one of the main issues that can be encountered is plants that can be poisonous. There is no one obvious rule that can be used to pinpoint all the poisonous plants as they are not all brightly colored neither do they all possess three leaves. One mishap with one of these plants could put a swift end to your outdoor activity. These common-sense tips are normally used to guide persons as it relates to poisonous plants, know your plants, do not eat unknown plants, dress appropriately, wash your hands and clothing thoroughly, do not burn plants that you know nothing about, and walk with Tecnu. Here is a list of the most commonly known poisonous plants and the way you can quickly identify them.

Poison Ivy

We have all heard that old saying, ‘leaves of three, let them be’ and this should be adhered to once you do not want to become into contact with this poisonous plant. The Poison Ivy can be found all over the United States, except for Alaska, Hawaii, and some regions of the southwestern deserts. Although there are other plants that carry this same feature, however, you should just be on the cautious side and avoid placing your hands on any type of plant that has this characteristic. The poison ivy typically has a very large single leaf in the center with two smaller leaves on either side. Although the shape of these leaves varies from species to species, they all end in a point. In the spring the leaves have a reddish cast, then green in the summertime, and in the fall a yellow to orange color. Coming into contact with this plant can result in a severe itch for a very prolonged period.

Poison Oak

This plant has very similar characteristics to the Poison Ivy, in that just like the Poison Ivy the Poison Oak has three leaves with a large single leaf in the center with two smaller leaves on either side. However, the leaves are lobed, which is where the plant gets its name from as it resembles the leaves on an Oak tree. There is hair growing on each side of the leaves and the color tends to be of a duller shade of green when compared to the Poison Ivy. This plant can also be found across the majority of the states in the United States.

Poison Sumac

This plant is actually a tree and can grow anywhere from five feet to twenty feet in height. They are mainly found in swampy areas with red stems that have a number of leaves on them. The leaves are not lobed or grow to a point but have smooth edges. This poisonous plant can be located in the southern and eastern regions of the United States.

Wild Parsnip

This plant is family to the parsley species of plant, which include celery, carrot, and dill. The flowers are yellow in color, with an umbrella shape cluster and the plant can grow upwards to five feet tall. There is really no limit to where this plant can grow, as it has been found in pastures, fields, and by the roadside. The Wild Parsnip’s sap can cause the skin of the person it comes into contact with to be extra sensitive to the rays from the sun. It is not until a person begins to break out with blisters in the form or a rash after spending a short amount of time in the sun, do they realize that they may have come into contact with the Wild Parsnip. Again this plant can be found throughout entire North America.

Giant Hogweed

The name of this plant speaks for itself, the Giant Hogweed can grow upwards to fourteen feet in height and as much as five feet in width. The flower from this plant is an umbrella in shape and has a white color, with a cluster of about fifty rays. The leaves of the Hogweed are lobed and can grow to as much as five feet wide. When you come into contact with the sap from this plant, it can result in blisters, scarring, and even burns. The areas this plant can be found are Ohio, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Michigan, Washington, Vermont, Virginia, Maine, and New Hampshire.

Stinging Nettle

Again another plant with a name that speaks true to its characteristics. There are hairs on this plant that when you come into contact with them will cause a stinging sensation. The plant can be very easy to identify while in the wilderness as the hairs cover the entire surface of the plant. Stinging Nettles tend to grow upwards to eight feet tall and in dense clusters. The leaves are shaped like a heart at the base with a pointed tip and can be between two to five inches in length. Moist soil in the woodlands, on riversides, and along trails is where you could find this plant growing.


This tree is considered among the deadliest trees in the world due to the extremely strong toxins that can be located in almost every section of the tree. The sap is very acidic and can result in blisters on the skin and even blindness if they come into contact with your eyes. Just one bite of the greenish-yellow fruit from this tree can be deadly and even if you decide to burn the tree down, the smoke can cause damage to the eyes and the lungs if inhaled. This is a tree that loves the tropical environment, so you can find it mainly in Florida. It is usually referred to as the beach apple due to the resemblance to that of an apple tree and it can be found growing near coastlines and in saltwater swamps.