Plants (Poisonous)

What are they?
First Aid

What are poisonous plants?

Certain plants can be harmful if you touch them or eat them. In some cases, the whole plant is harmful, while in other cases just part of the plant is harmful. For example, rhubarb stalk can be eaten, but the leaves are poisonous.

Young children sometimes put harmful plants in their mouths while exploring. Adults sometimes pick harmful plants to eat, thinking they are safe.

In addition, certain plants, such as poison ivy, produce harmful fumes if you burn them.

Below is a list of some common plants in New England that can be harmful to people or pets. This list is not complete. If you know what a plant is, you can call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 to find out whether it may be poisonous.

Harmful outdoor plants

  • American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)
  • Autumn crocus
  • Azalea
  • Baneberry/snake berry
  • Bittersweet (nightshade family)
  • Boxwood
  • Buttercup
  • Castor bean/dog tick seeds
  • Daffodil/narcissus
  • Daphne
  • Delphinium/larkspur
  • Elderberry
  • False hellebore/Indian poke
  • Foxglove


Harmful house plants

  • Aloe
  • Amaryllis
  • Caladium/elephant ear
  • Calla lily
  • Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
  • Cyclamen
  • Dieffenbachia/dumbcane


What are the symptoms of poisoning from plants?

A poisonous plant may irritate the stomach or skin, or cause more serious symptoms, such as heart or breathing problems. You can find information on certain plants in our A to Z index, or contact the poison center for more information—call 1-800-222-1222, chat online or text POISON to 85511.

What should I do if someone has swallowed part of a harmful plant?

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

What should I do if someone has touched a plant that may be harmful?

  • Wash the person’s skin gently with soap and water.
  • Call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222.

How can I prevent plant poisonings?

  • Identify the plants in and around your home. If you don’t know what a plant is, try taking it to a local greenhouse, garden center, nursery or agricultural extension office.
  • Find out if your plants are harmful. If you know what a plant is, contact the poison center to find out more about it. Call 1-800-222-1222, chat online or text POISON to 85511.
  • Get rid of harmful plants or keep them out of the reach of children.
  • Teach children to ask before touching or eating plants or berries.
  • Do not eat plants or berries that you find outside unless you are sure you know what they are.

Last Updated: Friday March 23rd 2018