Plants and Berries to Avoid on Your Outdoor Adventures

With warm weather here and foliage in full bloom, now is a good time to refresh your memory on poisonous plants to avoid during your adventures. To keep you, your family and pets protected against harmful poisons – here is a list of plants, fruits and berries to keep an eye out for this season.

Plants Causing Skin and Internal Reactions

Poison Ivy

If you know you will be walking in an area where poison ivy grows, make sure you are wearing long pants and closed-toe shoes. If you see three leaves at the end of a stem, avoid the area. That could be an area that contains poison ivy. The oil from poison ivy can stick to your skin within minutes. It can also stick to your animal’s fur or your clothes.

Poison Oak

Poison oak grows in a shrub shape or as a climbing vine. Their stems may contain yellowish-white berries. The leaves are furry and grow in sets of three.

Poison Sumac

Poison sumac and suman berries are more allergenic than poison ivy and poison oak. These leaves sag downward on the branch and the leaves are smooth. A rash from poison sumac cannot be spread from skin to skin, but oil that remains on clothes or animal’s fur can make contact with the skin and cause a rash to form.

Virginia Creeper

This plant contains a sap that can severely irritate skin however, it is not poisonous. Chewing on or ingesting the leaves or berries that can grow will cause irritation in the mouth, tongue, throat and lips. Additionally, you might experience diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. 

Stinging Nettle

A Stinging Nettle plant has needle-like hairs. They inject an acid into the skin, which causes a burning or stinging sensation and a rash. These symptoms usually only last up to 24 hours.

Poisonous Wild Berries and Fruits


Often time confused as grapes, pokeberries are poisonous and can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. During the summer, these plants are clusters of white flowers that turn into green berries. The purple berries shown above become visible by August.

Wild Cherry

Wild Cherries are pitted cherries that can be purchased at the grocery store. However, you should avoid eating the fruits pit, bark, leaves and stem because those parts of the plants are toxic to humans. The poison is contained within the pit, so it is important to ensure that the pit is not open or cracked. Wild Cherry poisoning is accompanied with symptoms of weakness, headache, confusion or nausea.


Black Nightshade can cause a variety of different symptoms in those who ingest the berry. It can give you dry mouth, enlarged pupils, diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, slowed pulse, low blood pressure, slowed breathing, hallucinations, loss of sensation and more. Seeking medical care directly after ingesting is recommended.

White Baneberry

All parts of the White Baneberry are toxic. The berry can cause cardiac arrest or respiratory paralysis if ingested. In addition, it can cause stomach cramps, dizziness, headache, diarrhea and hallucinations.


Wisteria seeds and pods of the tree are highly poisonous. These seed pods contain a harmful chemical that can cause symptoms such as stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea and a burning sensation in the mouth.

Yew Shrub Berries

The Yew Shrub tree itself is considered to be poisonous, but the berries that grow from the branches contain the highest level of poisoning that can cause nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Yew Shrub’s grow in shady and moist areas.  


This plant is very popular in households during Christmas time. However, holly berries are not safe to eat. They can cause vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration.  


Dogwood fruit, otherwise known as “Drupes,” are shiny and red on the outside and feel waxy. These flowering dogwood berries are not edible.