Poisonous wild plants in North Carolina
- if we eat it
- if it comes in contact with our skin
- if we inhale it
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Just how badly a poisonous plant may effect us can depend on:
- the individual. We can all respond differently... and some of us may have no response at all! Also, age, weight and overall health are factors.
- the plant species and even the individual plant, it's condition and the time of year.
- the amount of the plant's poison that we got exposed to
- our history with the plant. For example, the more often we come in contact with the urushiol oil in poison ivy, oak or sumac, the more allergic many of us will become.
Common myths about poisonous wild plants include:
- If wildlife is eating it, it's probably safe for human consumption.
- Cooking will make anything less poisonous.
- Avoid anything that is the color red.
- Poisonous just look poisonous. In reality, some poisonous and nonpoisonous plants look similar. (For instance, compare poison hemlock to garden carrot leaves.)
The following list includes some of the poisonous plants you may find when hiking or camping in Western North Carolina. It is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of all known toxic plants or all the possible symptoms that can be caused by these plants.
|WILD PLANTS||TOXIC PART||SYMPTOMS|
|Baneberry||all, especially berries||vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, death rare|
|Bittersweet vine||berries, leaves||vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions|
|Buckeye, Horse Chestnut||seeds||vomiting, weakness, possible death|
|Cardinal flower, Indian tobacco||all||vomiting, weakness, convulsions, possible death|
|Chinaberry tree||fruit, leaves||vomiting, difficulty breathing, death possible|
|Elderberry||leaves, stems, unripe or uncooked berries||vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions|
|False Hellebore||all||vomiting, diarrhea, hallucinations, possible death|
|Honeysuckle||berries only||vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory failure, death possible|
|Jack-in-the-pulpit||berries, leaves||mouth irritation, nausea|
|Jimson weed||all, especially seeds||hallucinations, rapid pulse, convulsions, possible death|
|Larkspur||seeds, young plants||nausea, weakness, possible death|
|Mayapple||unripe fruit||vomiting, diarrhea|
|Milkweed||milky sap||skin irritation|
|Monkshood, Wolfbane||all||vomiting, diarrhea, paralysis, possible death|
|Mulberry||milky sap||skin irritation, nausea|
|Mushrooms (learn more)||all parts||upset stomach, hallucinations, possible death. Symptoms may take a day or more to appear.|
|Nightshades, horsenettle||all||vomiting, weakness, possible death|
(herbaceous weed, not the tree)
|all||vomiting, diarrhea, paralysis, weak pulse, possible death|
|Poison ivy||all||skin irritation, eating berries can cause death|
|Poison sumac||all||skin irritation, eating berries can cause death|
|Sneezeweed||all||trembling, weakness, vomiting, difficulty breathing|
|Strawberry bush, Hearts-a-bustin'||fruit, leaves||vomiting, diarrhea|
|Stinging nettle||leaves, stems||skin irritation|
|Virginia creeper||berries||vomiting, diarrhea, kidney damage, possible death|
|Water hemlock, Spotted cowbane
(herbaceous weed, not the tree)
|all||vomiting, diarrhea, delirium, paralysis, death|
Sources for information provided on this page include: Potentially Poisonous Plants in the Home and Landscape, Linda G. Blue, Extension Agent, Agriculture - Urban Horticulture, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Buncombe County Center