Types of Poisonous Plants – What to Keep an Eye Out For

We all know that flowers and plants can be a great way to spruce up your home or garden, but what a lot of people don’t know is that many plants (even ones at your home) can have quite toxic reputations. It’s important to know about the types of poisonous plants out there so you can better guard yourself, family, and pets from their toxic properties. This type of knowledge can also be helpful if you enjoy spending time outside in general.

Effects of Poisonous Plants

Poisonous plants can be found everywhere and they come in many different forms with varying properties. With some plants, the entire plant is poisonous while others only have certain parts that are dangerous. Some plants can only transmit poison from being consumed, while others can hurt you by simply touching you.

Plants with poisonous attributes can affect a person in many ways. Skin irritation, rash, swelling, itching, vomiting, diarrhea, and even death are symptoms that some experience when they have been in contact with certain poisonous plants. If possible, you should always be weary of plants that you are unsure of.

Types of Poisonous Plants

Bittersweet Nightshade Poisonous Plant
Bittersweet Nightshade

  • could be a vine or sprawling shrub
  • stems start off purple, but grow to be woody and brown in color
  • five-petal, star-shaped, purple flowers have a yellow stamen shooting out of the middle
  • small round berries are green when unripe and bright red when ripe
  • leaves range from around 1 to 4 inches in length and are usually dark green or purplish in color



Castor Beans

  • their poisoning agent is a protein called ricin found within the beansCastor Beans Poisonous Plant
  • one bean has enough ricin in it to kill an adult
  • they change from a dark reddish purple to a dark green or reddish brown as they mature
  • stalked leaves range from about 5 to 18 inches long
  • leaves usually have 8 pointed leaflets with serrated edges and large veins
  • soft-spined fruits contain the poisonous seed/bean



Chinese LanternsChinese Lantern Poisonous Plant

  • papery covering that resembles Chinese lanterns surround the berries of the plant
  • the coverings turn from white to greenish yellow to bright orange
  • heart-shaped leaves are about 2 to 5 inches long and 2 to 4 inches broad
  • can reach 2 feet high and 3 feet wide
  • low-growing plant
  • the unripe berries and leaves are poisonous



Easter LilyEaster Lily Poisonous Plant

  • usually 20 inches to 3 feet tall
  • glossy, dark green oval leaves that come to a sharp point
  • produces a pure white, trumpet-shaped flower with a yellow or green center
  • poisonous to pets, especially cats



FoxgloveFoxglove Poisonous Plant

  • ranges in color from purple, pink, white, or grey
  • grow to about 2 to 3 feet tall
  • produce many tubular, bell-shaped flowers
  • leaves show thick, prominent veins
  • poisonous to ingest




  • branches have a vine-like appearance
  • broad dark green leaves with serrated edges
  • flowers can be yellow, white, purple, red, or orange
  • the flowers are clustered and can include several colors in one cluster
  • produces berries that are poisonous when ingested while unripe



Lily of the ValleyLily of the Valley

  • contains 2 large oblong leaves with noticeable veins
  • produces very small white, bell-shaped flowers
  • strong, sweet scent
  • produce red-orange, seeded berries
  • all parts of the plant are poisonous



Mountain LaurelMountain Laurel

  • flower colors range from white to several shades of pink with purple markings
  • usually between 6 to 10 feet tall
  • broad, dark green leaves are 1 to 4 inches long with pointed tip
  • plant grows in a round shape
  • harmful to ingest



Poison IvyPoison Ivy

  • similar to poison oak
  • hairy vines
  • poisonous to touch, and sometimes can be spread through the air
  • can grow as a vine or shrub
  • leaves are light to dark green or sometimes red
  • characterized by its 3 almond-shaped leaflets



Poison OakPoison Oak

  • similar to poison ivy
  • poisonous to touch, and sometimes can be spread through the air
  • can grow as a vine or shrub
  • leaves are light to dark green or sometimes red
  • leaf shape resembles oak leaf and are usually more lobed or toothed



Poison SumacPoison Sumac

  • usually sparse tree or shrub
  • can grow between 5 and 20 feet tall
  • can have upward facing leaves while it is still growing out
  • red stems with parallel rows of leaves
  • usually has between 6 to 12 leaves of an oblong shape with one additional leaf at the tip



Stinging NettlesStinging Nettles

  • surrounded by tiny, sharp hairs
  • poison is contained in the base of the hairs
  • fine-toothed, almost heart-shaped leaves
  • tiny white flowers



White BaneberryWhite Baneberry

  • the berries are poisonous if ingested, but all parts of the plant are poisonous
  • can reach 2 feet high and 3 feet wide
  • toothed, green leaves alternate on the stem
  • milky white berries on a bright red stem



Yew ShrubsYew Shrubs

  • highly toxic seeds within berries and branches
  • needle-like leaves spiral up the stem
  • usually about 20 feet high and 4 to 20 feet wide
  • they range in color from green to blue-green to a slight gold



What to Do if You Think You are Poisoned

If you think you have come in contact with one or more types of poisonous plants, you should seek medical help. Every person can have different symptoms, and you may not know what yours will include until it is actually happening. It’s always better to be safe than sorry in these types of situations. In the end, it could just be a simple fix but it’s always better to be sure!

If you are sure of what plant poisoned you, you can make more educated decisions of how to treat it, especially if you have been affected by the same plant in the past. For example, if I were to get a rash from poison ivy, I would wash the area and use anti-itch cream because in my experience, that is what has treated the rash.

You can conduct some research for yourself regarding treatments for poison, but remember that you can’t always believe everything you read on the internet. When your health is at risk, it is always more beneficial to seek professional advice.


It’s actually a bit surprising to see how many plants have poisonous properties to them. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you realize that some of these toxic plants might even be taking habitat in your home or garden. Obviously, if you are very mindful and don’t have children or pets, you’re probably safe in keeping these plants. However, be on guard if you do have children or pets as they are the most susceptible to being harmed by them.

Your best bet is to do your research before bringing plants into your home, or even before you go on an outdoor adventure. You don’t have to know every little detail of these types of poisonous plants, but you should try to be able to recognize their appearances. If you can at least do that, you’ll be well on your way to staying away from poison!












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