Gardening Poisonous Plants

Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Touch-me-not Plants

Some plants have the ability to cause contact dermatitis (an unpleasant skin reaction). Sometimes just simply brushing against the plant will do it, but in other cases, you actually have to bruise the plant or snap off a leaf or stem before a reaction will occur, because it is contact with the sap that is harmful. Note that in some cases, dermatitis will only occur if the skin is exposed first to the sap and then to the sun. This is called photodermatitis. With these plants, there is therefore less risk of a reaction on a cloudy day. Note too that sensitivity varies greatly from one individual to another: what can send one person to the hospital (and yes, that can happen!) may have no effect on another. But since you never know if you’re sensitive or not, please wear gloves and long sleeves if you have to handle the foliowing plants.

Apocynum androsaemifolium
Apocynum androsaemifolium

Spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)

Heracleum spp.
Heracleum spp.

Hogweeds (Heracleum spp.) – photodermatitis

Ranuculus spp.
Ranuculus spp.

Buttercups (Ranunculus spp.) – some species cause photodermatitis in sensitive individuals

Euphorbia
Euphorbia spp.

Spurges (Euphorbia spp.)

Dictamnus albus
Dictamnus albus

Gas plant (Dictamnus albus) – photodermatitis 

Conium maculatum
Conium maculatum

Poison-hemlock (Conium maculatum) – photodermatitis… but the whole plant is highly poisonous if ingested!  

Toxicodendron radicans
Toxicodendron radicans

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans

Pastinaca sativa
Pastinaca sativa

Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) – photodermatitis  

Ruta graveolens
Ruta graveolens

Rue (Ruta graveolens) – photodermatitis

Urtica spp., Laportea spp.
Urtica spp., Laportea spp.

Nettles (Urtica spp. Laportea spp.)

Garden writer and blogger, author of more than 60 gardening books, the laidback gardener, Larry Hodgson, lives and gardens in Quebec City, Canada. The Laidback Gardener blog offers more than 2,500 articles to passionate home gardeners, always with the goal of demystifying gardening and making it easier for even novice gardeners. If you have a gardening question, enter it in Search: the answer is probably already there!

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