This page contains information on how to identify and avoid poisonous plants in an emergency situation. Exampels are plants that are poisonous when touched such as poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, and plants that are poisonous when ingested such as Castor Bean, Oleander, Rosary Pea, Water Hemlock, Poison Hemlock. You will also find out how to identify the symptoms and also preventions and finally a list of the most poisonous plants.
Plants basically poison on contact, through ingestion, by absorption, or by inhalation. They cause painful skin irritations upon contact, they cause internal poisoning when eaten, and they poison through skin absorption or inhalation in to the respiratory system. Positive identification of edible plants will eliminate the danger of accidental poisoning. There is no room for experimentation where plants are concerned, especially in unfamiliar territory.
Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac release an oil, urushiol, when the leaf or other plant parts are bruised, damaged, or burned. When the oil gets on the skin an allergic reaction, referred to as contact dermatitis, occurs in most exposed people as an itchy red rash with bumps or blisters. When exposed to 50 micrograms of urushiol, an amount that is less than one grain of table salt, 80 to 90 percent of adults will develop a rash. The rash, depending upon where it occurs and how broadly it is spread, may significantly impede or prevent a person from performing some daily tasts. Although over-the-counter topical medications may relieve symptoms for most people, immediate medical attention may be required for severe reactions, particularly when exposed to the smoke from burning these poisonous plants. Burning these poisonous plants can be very dangerous because the allergens can be inhaled, causing lung irritation.
Poisonous plants that cause contact dermatitis are: Cowhage. Poison ivy. Poison oak. Poison sumac. Rengas tree. Trumpet vine.
The following plants can cause ingestion poisoning if eaten: Castor bean. Chinaberry. Death camas. Lantana. Manchineel. Oleander. Pangi. Physic nut. Poison and water hemlocks. Rosary pea. Strychnine tree.
People who spend more time outdoors may be exposed to poisonous plants. Forestry workers and firefighters who battle forest fires are at additional risk because they could potentially develop rashes and lung irritation from contact with damaged or burning poisonous plants. It is important for individuals to train themselves about their risk of exposure to poisonous plants, how they can prevent exposures and protect themselves, and what they should do if they come in contact with these plants.
To avoid potentially poisonous plants, stay away from any wild or unknown plants that have:
One or more of the most common poisonous plant species are found throughout the United States (except Alaska and Hawaii). These plants can be found in forests, fields, wetlands and along streams, road sides, and even in urban environments, such as, parks and backyards.
The old saying "Leaves of three, Let it be!" is a helpful reminder for identifying poison ivy and oak, but not poison sumac which usually has clusters of 7-13 leaves. Even poison ivy and poison oak may have more than three leaves and their form may vary greatly depending upon the exact species encountered, the local environment, and the season. Being able to identify local varieties of these poisonous plants throughout the seasons and differentiating them from common nonpoisonous look-a-likes are the major keys to avoiding exposure.
Below is a list of poisonous plants which can cause ingestion poisoning if eaten:
The castor bean is a semiwoody plant with large, alternate, starlike leaves that grows as a tree in tropical regions and as an annual in temperate regions. Its flowers are very small and inconspicuous. Its fruits grow in clusters at the tops of the plants. All parts of the plant are very poisonous to eat. The seeds are large and may be mistaken for a beanlike food. Castor bean is found in all tropical regions and has been introduced to temperate regions.
This shrub or small tree grows to about 9 meters (27 feet), with alternate, very straight, dark green leaves. Its flowers may be white, yellow, red, pink, or intermediate colors. Its fruit is a brown, podlike structure with many small seeds. All parts of the plant are very poisonous. Do not use the wood for cooking; it gives off poisonous fumes that can poison food. This native of the Mediterranean area is now grown as an ornamental in tropical and temperate regions.
This plant is a vine with alternate compound leaves, light purple flowers, and beautiful seeds that are red and black. This plant is one of the most dangerous plants. One seed may contain enough poison to kill an adult. This is a common weed in parts of Africa, southern Florida, Hawaii, Guam, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
This biennial herb may grow to 2.5 meters (8 feet) high. The smooth, hollow stem may or may not be purple or red striped or mottled. Its white flowers are small and grow in small groups that tend to form flat umbels. Its long, turniplike taproot is solid. This plant is very poisonous, and even a very small amount may cause death. This plant is easy to confuse with wild carrot or Queen Anne's lace, especially in its first stage of growth. Wild carrot or Queen Anne's lace has hairy leaves and stems and smells like carrot. Poison hemlock does not. Habitat and Distribution: Poison hemlock grows in wet or moist ground like swamps, wet meadows, stream banks, and ditches. Native to Eurasia, it has been introduced to the United States and Canada.
This perennial herb may grow to 1.8 meters (6 feet) high. The stem is hollow and sectioned off like bamboo. It may or may not be purple or red striped or mottled. Its flowers are small, white, and grow in groups that tend to form flat umbels. Its roots may have hollow air chambers and, when cut, may produce drops of yellow oil. This plant is very poisonous and even a very small amount of this plant may cause death. Its roots have been mistaken for parsnips. Habitat and Distribution: Water hemlock grows in wet or moist ground like swamps, wet meadows, stream banks, and ditches throughout the Unites States and Canada.
The following is a list of some of the poisonous plants, in an alphabetical order: Amaryllis, Azalea, Bird of Paradise, Black Nightshade, Buttercup, Butterfly Weed, Calla Lily, Calamondin, Caladium, Carnation, Carolina Jasmine, Castor Bean, Chinaberry, Chinese Tallow, Christmas Berry, Cyclamen, Daffodil, Daisy, Daphne, Deadly Nightshade, Devils Ivy, Dieffenbachia, Dumbcane, Elderberry, Elephant Ears, English Holly/Ivy, Eucalyptus, Eyebane, Foxglove, Golden Chain, Holly Berry, Horsechestnut, Hyacinth, Hydrangea Blossom, Iris, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Jerusalem Cherry, Jimson Weed, Juniper, Lantana, Larkspur, Laurel, Lily-of-the-Valley, May Apple, Mistletoe, Moonflower, Morning Glory, Needlepoint Ivy, Oleander, Oxalis, Peace Lily, Philodendron, Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, Pokeweed, Potato Plant, Pothos, Pyracantha, Rhododendron, Rhubarb, Sand Begonia, Skunk Cabbage, Spathe Flower, String of Pearls, Tomato Leaves, Tulips, Violet Seeds, Water Hemlock, Wild Carrots, Wild Cucumber, Wild, Parsnip, Wild Peas, Wisteria, Yew.
Individuals may become exposed to urushiol through:
Signs or symptoms associated with dermal contact with poisonous plants may include:
Individuals can prevent contact with poisonous plants by taking these steps:
People who have come in contact with poisonous plants should do the following. Note that this doesn't apply to poisonous plants that were eaten:
If you think you ingested a poisonous plant DO NOT WAIT FOR SYMPTOMS TO APPEAR CALL THE POISON CENTER IMMEDIATELY.
More information: We hope this page was helpful and provided you with some information on how to identify and avoid poisonous plants. Check out our main page for more survival scenarios here Survival Guide, knowledge is light, and knowledge can save your life. Make sure you do your best to know what to do in a survival situation and then hope for the best.