12 common poisonous plants of the Midwest

July 24, 2013 | SECURA Insurance

It's warm, it's sunny, it's a gardener's paradise.

However, along with delicious seasonal crops and beautiful flowers, we see more bothersome plants. Pesky dandelions may litter your lawn, but when it comes to health and safety, they're the least of your concerns.

Let's talk about poisonous plants so common you might not even realize they're dangerous, especially to children and pets. Learn to identify these plants and educate yourself about what to do if you're exposed to them.

1. Poison ivy, oak, and sumac; and wild parsnip

You may have heard the popular saying, "Leaves of three, let them be." When you come into contact with the oil from any part of these plants, you'll likely develop small bumps, itchy skin, redness, hives, or fluid-filled blisters. That can happen from five hours to 15 days after contact, but most commonly it occurs eight to 48 hours after.

2. Elderberry, nightshade, and poison hemlock

These plants can be found in forests, ditches, and along fence lines. If ingested, they can cause upset stomach, weakness, jitters, mental confusion, convulsions, and sudden death.

3. Iris, daffodil, foxglove, azaleas, and Dutchman's breeches/bleeding hearts

Don't be fooled by their beauty. These common flowers have more bite than bark. When eaten, they can be deadly. Other symptoms include vomiting, trouble breathing, convulsions, mental confusion, dizziness, and heart trouble.

Treating poison ivy, oak, sumac, and wild parsnip contact

If you've been exposed, wash the affected skin with rubbing alcohol, then with water. Do NOT use soap until you've done this, because it will move the oils around your body. Finally, take a shower with soap and water.

What to do during a poison emergency

1. Remain calm.
2. Call 911 if the person has collapsed or is having trouble breathing.
3. Call 800-222-1222, Poison Help, which connects you to your local poison center.
They'll be able to give you the proper information.

For more help identifying poisonous plants in your area, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture

U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Safe Kids, Kalamazoo County
Network Health Wellness