Poisonous Plants

What are poisonous plants?

Some plants can be harmful if you touch them, eat them or burn them. Sometimes, the whole plant is harmful, but other times just part of the plant is harmful. For example, rhubarb stalk can be eaten, but the leaves are poisonous.

Young children often put harmful plants in their mouths. Adults sometimes pick harmful plants or mushrooms to eat, thinking they are safe.

What are the symptoms of plant poisonings?

Most plants and mushrooms are not harmful if you only have a little bit, but some can be very dangerous after just one bite.

If you eat or touch a harmful plant you may:

  • Get a rash
  • Feel sick to your stomach
  • Feel dizzy
  • Feel like your heart is beating too quickly or too slowly
  • Have trouble breathing

In serious cases, a harmful plant can kill you. To find information on a plant, visit our A to Z index.

What can you do about poisonous plants?

If someone has eaten a plant or mushroom that might be harmful:

  • Take all pieces of the plant out of their mouth.
  • Give a few sips of water or milk.
  • Call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222

If someone has touched a plant that might be harmful:

  • Wash their skin with soap and water.
  • Call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

If someone has burned a plant that might be harmful:

  • Get to fresh air.
  • Call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

To prevent plant poisonings:

  • Identify your plants. You can take a piece to a local greenhouse, garden center, nursery or agricultural extension office.
  • Get rid of harmful plants or keep them out of the reach of children.
  • Teach children to ask before touching or eating plants, berries or mushrooms.
  • Do not eat plants, berries or mushrooms that you find outside unless you are sure you know what they are. Examples include blueberries, strawberries and vegetables from the garden.