Filmer, University of California, Davis; Oct. 2012
Did You Know?
Each year over 100,000 people in the United States call
Poison Control Centers about plant and mushroom
There is no easy “test” for knowing which plants are
Some plants may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,
or stomach cramps.
the skin, mouth, and tongue. Immediate burning
pain is common, and sometimes stomach upset,
mouth and tongue swelling, or breathing problems
rash occurs only after being in sunlight, or gets
worse with sunlight.
Heating and cooking do not necessarily destroy a plant’s or
Teas and home-made medicines made from plants can be
Eating a small amount of a plant may not be a problem, but
Young children, and sometimes pets, will often chew or eat
“Know Your Plants” web page for more information:
Did you know?
Preventing poisoning exposures 4
Treatment for exposures
Lists of plants
Safe plants (by common name) 6
Safe plants (by scientific name) 12
Toxic plants (by common name) 16
Toxic plants (by scientific name) 26
University of California, Davis
Check the web for updated versions of
Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants
University of California, Davis
Herbal medicine is the use of drugs found in plants for prevention and cure of disease. Some are
the-counter drug, health problems may occur. Always check with your doctor before using herbal
FDA approval is not required for package or marketing claims. Unlike approved drugs, herbs are
of herbal products is often hard to determine. Herbal remedies may have other unlabeled medicines
or materials mixed in with them.
Many herbal medicines are taken by drinking a tea. Avoid concentrating or over-steeping a tea
Because scientific studies have not been done on many herbs, pregnant women, breast-feeding
health conditions should also be careful about the use of herbs.
An herbal treatment that does not work, even if it won't hurt you, could delay getting necessary
A “natural” product from a plant is not necessarily better than the same chemical produced in a
Some herbal products contain active ingredients that can produce unexpected side effects
Borage (Borago officinalis)
Calamus (Acorus calamus)
Skin irritation, stomach upset, may cause cancer
Chaparral (Larrea indentata)
Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)
Ephedra; Ma-huang (Ephedra sinica)
Agitation, high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat,
Germander (Teucrium chamaedrys)
Life root (Senecio aureus)
Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
Liver damage. Concentrated oil can cause convulsions,
shock, and multi-organ failure
Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Liver damage. Concentrated oil can cause
hallucinations, trembling, shock, and possibly cancer.
Millions of Americans have hay fever.
Symptoms include sneezing, runny
nose, red itching eyes, and throat
Plant pollen in the air is a common
should learn which plants cause their
symptoms and try to avoid them.
If you have an allergy to the pollen of
for a prescription for medicine before
the plants bloom. Contact your local
American Lung Association for
pamphlets on hay fever plants, and
for gardening tips regarding such
“Breathe California” has a list of
listed by their pollen season:
Eating any mushrooms collected outdoors should be
even if you only think that someone has eaten one. Even
after a serious poisoning, symptoms may not appear until
many hours later. Do not wait until symptoms appear.
Poison Control Center: (800) 222-1222
Symptoms of severe mushroom poisoning can include
Eating mushrooms collected outdoors can be very risky
ones that are safe to eat. There is no easy way to tell the
difference between safe and unsafe mushrooms.
California from other areas of the world.
California has extremely poisonous mushrooms
that may look similar to “safe” mushrooms found
in other areas.
Teach children never to touch or taste outdoor
Carefully read and follow directions on all pesticide labels, even if you have used the material before.
If you suspect a poisoning, immediately call the Poison Control Center: (800) 222-1222
For information on the safe use of pesticides, visit the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management
Specifically, find information at these links on the UC IPM website:
Pesticides: safe and effective use
Hiring a pest control company
Information about specific pesticides
Preventing Poisoning Exposures
Show grandparents and baby sitters where the plant label is. It is very hard for poison specialists to
identify plants from a description given on the phone. Know the names of your plants before a
house. House plants should be placed out of reach of the very young.
nuts, berries, and bulbs. Do not allow children to suck nectar from flowers or make “tea” from the
leaves. Never chew, or let children chew, on jewelry made from seeds or beans.
Handling Toxic Plants
confusing bulbs with edible onions.
Smoke from fires made of twigs and other parts of poisonous plants, including poison oak, can
irritate or harm the eyes, throat, and other parts of the body.
What to do for a plant poisoning
If the victim is choking and cannot breathe, call 9-1-1
Treatment for Exposure:
out the mouth.
Eyes: Flush eyes with lukewarm water for 10 to 15 minutes. Be very gentle, as vigorous or
prolonged rinsing can hurt the eyes.
Meanwhile, call the Poison Control Center: (800) 222-1222
If you are advised to go to an emergency room, take the plant or a part of it with you (take more
than a single leaf or berry). Take the label, too, if you have it. The correct name can result in the
proper treatment if the plant is poisonous. If the plant is not dangerous, knowing the name can
prevent needless treatment and worry.
Plants Toxic to Animals
Information on this website is about plants poisonous to people. Do not use the plant lists on this
poisonous to animals.
Pets, especially cats and dogs, frequently ingest plants. If a plant is known to be hazardous to
plants that are unsafe for humans.
Cornell University: Plants Poisonous to Livestock and other Animals
University of Illinois: Plants Toxic to Animals
The ASPCA: Toxic and Nontoxic Plants for Animals
Safe Plants (by common name)
A note on “safe” plants: The plants on this list are generally believed to be safe. However, if you
or if you notice symptoms such as illness or dermatitis after handling these plants, call your
Poison Control Center for additional information: (800) 222-1222.
It is assumed that the plants listed here are not being used as teas, herbs, or medicines.
To search for photos of these plants, check the UC Berkeley “CalPhotos: Plants” website:
Safe plants: Common name
Bird of paradise
Bird’s nest fern
Black-eyed Susan vine
Cast iron plant
Chinese fountain palm
Coral berry bromeliad *
Crocus, Dutch *
Crocus, Spring-blooming *
Dutch crocus *
Fern, Bird’s nest
Flaming sword bromeliad
Hen and chicks
Hens and chickens