Poisonous Plants to Avoid While Scavenging for Free Food


poisonous plants

A good regional book

The following is a fairly complete list of the more common poisonous plants.  Now some of you may wonder why plants like skunk cabbage, choke cherry and even rhubarb are on this list.  It is because these plants and some others on the list have parts that are poisonous or may need to be treated in some manner to neutralize the poisons.  For instance, rhubarb leaves are poisonous, but you can eat the stalks.  Choke cherry pits and leaves are poisonous, but the berry is not.

Some of the other plants shown on this list are medicinal plants and used correctly can treat many illnesses.  An example would be foxglove from which digitalis is made.

Poisonous Plants

Common Name  
American False hellobore Anemona
Angles trumpet Arrowgrass
Azalea, rhododendron Baneberry
Bleeding Heart Black Locust
Bloodroot Bouncing Bet
Butterflyweed Caladium
Castor bean Celadine poppy
Christmas rose chokecherry
Cocklebur Columbine
Corn cockle Crocus
Daffodil Daphne
Deadly nightshade Death camas
Desert rose Dieffenbachia
Dumbcane Dutchman’s pipe
Elephant Ear European bittersweet
Foxglove Frangipani (Plumeria)
Holly Horse chestnuts
Horsetail Hyacinth
Iris Jack in the pulpit
Jerusalem cherry Jimson weed
Jessamine Lantana
Larkspur Laurel
Leafy spurge Lily Flame
Lily, glory Lily-of-the-valley
Lobelia Lupine
Marsh mariglod Mayapple (except fruit)
Mistletoe Monkshood
Morning glory Mountain laurel
Narcissus Nightshade
Oleander Peace lily
Philodendron Poinsetta
Poison hemlock Poison ivy
Poison milkweed Poison oak
Pokeweed Poppy, horned
Poppy (Somniferum) Pothos
Privet Purple cockle
Rhododendron Rhubarb, leaves
Rosary pea Skunk cabbage
Snowdrops Solomon’s seal
Star of Bethlehem St Johnswort
Water hemlock Wild black cherry
Wisteria Yew


Many of these poisonous plants may have regional names which I am not familiar.  I strongly suggest that you find plant reference books that cover the area in which you live or plan to spent time in.  I have found some excellent ones that are written about the Sierra Nevada Mountains in which I live.  Two excellent books that are fairly comprehensive nationwide are Bradford Angier’s Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants and his Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, these have both been revised by David K Foster.  The field guides only cover wild plants and not ornamental plants.

Anytime you are considering eating wild or ornamental plants be sure of your identification.  Many of your local colleges have classes on this subject and I would encourage you to take one.


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