This article is a guide to poisonous plants in North America. Combined with this article, you will have a pretty good grasp on what to eat (and what not to eat!) when you’re out in the wilderness.
So let’s take a look at some toxic trees, some dangerous dandelions and some freaky flowers.
A POISONOUS PLANT CHECKLIST
Eating these funny-looking plants can give you a burning sensation and swelling and blisters in your mouth, making it painful to swallow.
Castor Bean Plants
These guys can be bought at any garden store, and produce seeds that contain deadly ricin. Yikes. Pluck the seeds early to avoid any problems, and call the authorities if you catch any KGB agents trying to harvest them.
These pretty-looking garden plants produce a toxin that keeps rabbits out of the garden. This same toxin can lead to itchiness and inflammation in humans.
The milky sap in the leaves and stems of this plant can also lead to itchiness and inflammation when exposed to the skin.
This plant grows up to 3 feet tall, producing purple and white bell-shaped flowers. The leaves of the plant are actually used in heart medication, and eating them in the wild can lead to irregular heart rhythms. It can also lead to nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea.
Activated charcoal or a stomach pump can be used to clear out the toxin and return the body to normal.
Another popular garden plant, these guys can grow very tall, and produce bunches of flowers that almost look like cotton candy. If eaten, however, these flowers can cause stomach aches, sweating, itchy skin and vomiting. Some people have even fallen into a coma after eating too much.
If this is you (seriously, though?) see a doctor immediately, as antidotes are available.
Lily of the Valley
Also called Mayflowers, these droopy flowers are poisonous from top to bottom. Eating too much of this can lead to an irregular heart beat, nausea, vomiting, mouth pain, abdominal pain, diarrhea and cramps. A fun time all around.
A stomach pump or charcoal may be used, because of the danger to the heart.
This plant packs a double punch. Found in the southwest, It has spiky thorns akin to barbed wire. It also produces a milky sap that can irritate and discolor skin. It can even lead to permanent damage if it gets in your eyes.
This plant is commonly found in gardens in North America. It contains the poisonous alkaloid aconite, which can lead to asphyxiation in those exposed to it. Make sure to wear gloves when handling them.
The Oleander is a common evergreen shrub that is toxic from top to bottom. It’s even dangerous to drink water that these flowers have been in. Exposure can lead to a slow down or palpitations in heart rate. It can also mess with your potassium levels.
If exposed, you should seek doctor supervision. If that isn’t possible, use charcoal or try to induce vomiting to clear out the toxin.
A popular springtime garden flower. Their leaves and sap are toxic, and will lead to a burning mouth, vomiting and diarrhea. If too much is eaten, one could even fall into a coma, have convulsions and even die. If ingested, a doctor should be seen right away.
Western Water Hemlock
The most toxic plant in North America! Contains cicutoxin, which can produce grand mal seizures in humans. It can be fatal if eaten, so my advice is… don’t!
White Snake Root
This plant contains tremetol, which when eaten by cows can poison their milk. This can be fatal (it was what killed Abraham Lincoln’s mother). Most of the plant has been eliminated in the US, although it still grows in the wild in some cases.
Found mainly in the South Western United States, these pretty plants contain toxin in the plant and sometimes the flowers.
Exposure will cause nausea, vomiting, cramps and diarrhea.
So when you’re out in the wild, take care. I know it can be tempting when out to start popping random plants into your mouth, but caution must be exercised. Stay away from these gruesome grasses and potent perennials, and you should be fine.
Good luck and stay prepared!