Irritants, Poisonous Nightshades, Poisonous Ornamentals and Miscellaneous Harmful Plants
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Stinging Nettle Plant: Growing mostly in wet areas it also causes an itching skin rash but it is less severe than poison-ivy and disappears in about 24 hours. Note the opposite leaves with sharp serrations along the edge. Close examination will reveal the hypodermic like needles which break off and inject a histamine and actyl choline to cause the rash.
Poison Ivy Leaf: This plant, like our mosquitoes, was here to welcome the invaders from Europe who had never seen it. The leaf is three lobed with the central leaflet on a short petiole. The two lateral leaflets are lobed on the outside edge while the central leaflet is lobed on both edges. The flower is hidden beneath the leaves and is green in color. The fruit is a small, white berry growing in clusters. All parts of the plant are poisonous at all times of the year. Poison ivy also has aerial
Giant Ragweed: Like common ragweed, it releases large amounts of pollen, but it is found mostly in wet areas, while common ragweed is a dry land weed. Note that goldenrod is often blamed for "hayfever" but its pollen doesn't leave the plant. It just happens to have a very showy flower at the time that ragweed is pollinating.
Yew: English yew (Taxus baccata) is more of a problem than our common yew but, never-the-less, it does cause serious effects. The toxic part for humans (foliage is toxic to livestock) is the seed. Apparently, the fleshy part of the fruit is not poisonous but if the seed is broken open and eaten it is dangerous.
Water Hemlock Flower: As the name implies, it is found in wet spots. The flower resembles wild carrot to which it is related. The root is swollen, chambered and has a yellow exudate when cut. If eaten, the root will cause almost certain death but only after a period of excruciating pain. The related Poison Hemlock, Conium maculatum, resembles the wild carrot even closer. It is also very toxic but the action is much less dramatic.
Poinsettia Plant: There is some disagreement about the toxicity of this plant. Some claim that the foliage is poisonous if eaten. However, the POISONEX R Information Service states that even at levels as high as 1.25 pounds of bracts (500-600 bracts) a child of 50 pounds would not be affected. The American Medical Association finds no deaths or serious injuries attributed to poinsettia ingestion. While its safety has been proven, the poinsettia, like other ornamental plants is of course not inte
Jimsonweed: Note the tree-like shape assumed by this weedy plant of corn and soybean fields as well as pastures. The leaves, when bruised, have a strong, musty odor. The seeds, contained in a spiny capsule, are extremely dangerous. If eaten, they cause serious convulsions and hallucinogenic effects. Mortality is high. Children have been poisoned by sucking the nectar from the large, tubular flower.
Horsenettle: This member of the nightshade family has spines on the leaves and stems and the berries are toxic if eaten. The young berry is green and turns yellow when mature. Unlike the other nightshades, these berries become more toxic as they mature. They are present when the leaves fall and have a high visibility all winter long.
Ground Cherry: The fruit of this plant is enclosed in a part of the flower and is not very toxic but shouldn't be eaten. The plant is also called Chinese lantern and is used for decorative purposes. The unripe fruits are poisonous, but various references indicate that the mature fruit may be cooked and made into pies and jellies without harm.