HOW OR PLANTS POISONOUS
Ingestion, contact, inhalation.
Ingestion: When a person eats a part of a poisonous plant.
Contact: When a person makes contact with a poisonous plant that
causes any type of skin irritation or dermatitis.
Absorption or inhalation: When a person either absorbs the poison
through the skin or inhales it into the respiratory system.
Plant poisoning ranges from minor irritation to death. A common question
asked is, "How poisonous is this plant?" It is difficult to say how
poisonous plants are because:
Some plants require contact with a large amount of the plant before
noticing any adverse reaction while others will cause death with only
a small amount.
Every plant will vary in the amount of toxins it contains due to different
growing conditions and slight variations in subspecies.
Every person has a different level of resistance to toxic substances.
Some persons may be more sensitive to a particular plant.
Some common misconceptions about poisonous plants are:
Watch the animals and eat what they eat.
Most of the time this statement is true, but some animals can eat plants that are poisonous to humans.
Boil the plant in water and any poisons will be removed. Boiling
removes many poisons, but not all.
Plants with a red color are poisonous. Some plants that are red are
poisonous, but not all.
The point is there is no one rule to aid in identifying poisonous plants.
You must make an effort to learn the plants that are poisonous in your area.
ALL ABOUT PLANTS
It is to your benefit to learn as much about plants as possible. Many poisonous
plants look like their edible relatives or like other edible plants. For
example, poison hemlock appears very similar to wild carrot. Certain plants
are safe to eat in certain seasons or stages of growth and poisonous in other
stages. For example, the leaves of the pokeweed are edible when it first
starts to grow, but it soon becomes poisonous. You can eat some plants and
their fruits only when they are ripe. For example, the ripe fruit of mayapple
is edible, but all other parts and the green fruit are poisonous. Some plants
contain both edible and poisonous parts; potatoes and tomatoes are common
plant foods, but their green parts are poisonous.
Some plants become toxic after wilting. For example, when the black
cherry starts to wilt, hydrocyanic acid develops. Specific preparation
methods make some plants edible that are poisonous raw. You can eat
the thinly sliced and thoroughly dried corms (drying may take a year) of
the jack-in-the-pulpit, but they are poisonous if not thoroughly dried.
RULES FOR AVOIDING POISONOUS PLANTS
Your best policy is to be able to look at a plant and identify it with absolute
certainty and to know its uses or dangers. Many times this is not
possible. If you have little or no knowledge of the local vegetation, use
the rules to select plants for the "Universal Edibility Test." Remember,
All mushrooms. Mushroom identification is very difficult and must be
precise, even more so than with other plants. Some mushrooms
cause death very quickly. Some mushrooms have no known antidote.
Two general types of mushroom poisoning are gastrointestinal and
central nervous system.
Contact dermatitis from plants will usually cause the most trouble in
the field. The effects may be persistent, spread by scratching, and are
particularly dangerous if there is contact in or around the eyes.
The principal toxin of these plants is usually an oil that gets on the skin
upon contact with the plant. The oil can also get on equipment and then
infect whoever touches the equipment. Never burn poisonous
plant because the smoke may be as harmful as the plant. There is a
greater danger of being affected when overheated and sweating. The
infection may be local or it may spread over the body.
Symptoms may take from a few hours to several days to appear. Signs and
symptoms can include burning, reddening, itching, swelling, and blisters.
When you first contact the poisonous plants or the first symptoms appear,
try to remove the oil by washing with soap and cold water. If water
is not available, wipe your skin repeatedly with dirt or sand. Do not use
dirt if blisters have developed. The dirt may break open the blisters and
leave the body open to infection. After you have removed the oil, dry
the area. You can wash with a tannic acid solution and crush and rub
jewelweed on the affected area to treat plant-caused rashes. You can
make tannic acid from oak bark.
Poisonous plants that cause contact dermatitis are:
Ingestion poisoning can be very serious and could lead to death very
quickly. Do not eat any plant unless you have positively identified it first.
Keep a log of all plants eaten.
Signs and symptoms of ingestion poisoning can include nausea, vomiting,
diarrhea, abdominal cramps, depressed heartbeat and respiration, headaches,
hallucinations, dry mouth, unconsciousness, coma, and death.
The following plants can cause ingestion poisoning if eaten:
Poison and water hemlocks.