There are many different kinds of plants that can be poisonous to humans and animals. When someone burns, ingests, or comes into contact with a toxic plant, symptoms can range in severity and must be taken care of immediately to avoid illness or, in some cases, death.

Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac

The most common poisonous plants in North America are poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. These three plants all cause rashes, itchiness, and red, swollen blisters when they come in contact with skin. The irritant that does so is called urushiol, and although it isn’t deadly, everyone has a slightly different reaction to it.


If you come into contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac, the best thing to do is to use over-the-counter anti-itch creams or antihistamines until the rash disappears. This should take about a week. If blisters worsen, bleed, or do not go away within a week, call your doctor.

Contact with Poisonous Plant Oils

Other poisonous plants are not as easy on the skin as poison ivy and its cousins. Giant Hogweed, for example, contains a chemical that strips the skin of its UV protection, thus causing affected areas of contact to painfully burn. With plants like this, it is best to contact emergency services as soon as possible so that professional plant removal services can contain the plant and doctors can treat your skin appropriately.

Eating Poisonous Plants

A vast number of plants may be harmless to touch but can make you ill upon ingestion. Wild berries and mushrooms are the most common of these plants, and poison control is more than ready to handle any cases of poison ingestion as soon as possible. If you or someone you know eats a poisonous plant, call an ambulance, as well as poison control.


Poison control can help you identify whether or not a plant is poisonous via description, on-site analysis, or photograph. If a plant is deemed harmless, don’t worry! If the plant is indeed poisonous, though, doctors will help clear out any toxins using safe medical practices. Do not under any circumstances avoid the hospital if you eat a poisonous plant.

Burning Poisonous Plants

Many plants that are poisonous to touch (including poison ivy, oak, and sumac) should not be burned without proper care. Burning a poisonous plant without the appropriate precautions can cause further damage to your skin and lungs, as well as any nearby animals. In addition, improper fire safety can lead to severe injuries or forest fires as well. If you encounter a poisonous plant, contact your local government to have professionals manage the plant itself. Professionals will use respirators, and in some cases, hazmat suits when removing a poisonous plant by burning it. The best way to assist with this removal is to keep all kids, family members, and pets away from the burning area and inside your home.

Contact Your Local Poison Control

Poison control services help manage and treat millions of people who ingest, touch, or inhale poisonous substances every day. If you have any concerns about whether or not something is poisonous, do not hesitate to call the experts. The poison control national helpline is 1-800-222-1222.

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