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Features

Stay safe this summer: socially distance yourself from these plants

It's not just poison ivy that's potentially toxic

As Illinoisans venture outside for summer fun, the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) wants to remind everyone that some of the season’s most attractive plants can be harmful — or even deadly.
As Illinoisans venture outside for summer fun, the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) wants to remind everyone that some of the season’s most attractive plants can be harmful — or even deadly.

As Illinoisans venture outside for summer fun, the Illinois Poison Center (IPC) wants to remind everyone that some of the season’s most attractive plants can be harmful — or even deadly.

IPC suggests admiring all plants from afar if you aren’t sure of a plant’s identity. See IPC’s helpful plant list that rates plant toxicity from 0 (nontoxic) to 3 (severe and life threatening). illinoispoisoncenter.org/Plant-List.

These seasonal plants pose the most severe hazard to your health if consumed in certain quantities:

Larkspur — A garden staple, these cheerful perennials can cause adverse neurological and cardiac effects.

Foxglove — Beloved for its bell-shaped flowers, these tall plants can slow your heart rate and cause confusion.

Cotoneaster — A popular groundcover, the seeds and berries break down into cyanide when consumed.

Other plants are only harmful if consumed in large quantities:

Allium — Also known as wild onion or garlic, large amounts of this bulbous plant can upset your stomach.

Tomato and potato — If consumed before proper ripeness, these plants can lead to nausea and vomiting, as can the leaves (regardless of ripeness).

Pokeweed — The berries on this shrub resembles blueberries, but consuming too much can cause significant gastrointestinal problems.

Black-eyed Susans — This common prairie plant can irritate the skin upon contact.

In 2019, the IPC fielded 1,158 exposures related to plant toxicity, 37% of which were during the summer. Nationally more than 14,000 exposures were reported to poison centers.

If you or someone around you is exposed to any of the plants listed above, call the IPC helpline at 1-800-222-1222.

IPC experts are available to provide information and treatment advice 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, including holidays.

The call is free and confidential.

For more information, visit illinoispoisoncenter.org.

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