The Poison Control Center

Natural Poisons: Plants and More

During the spring, summer and fall, the Poison Control Center receives several calls each day about children who have eaten wild berries, seeds, plants or mushrooms.

Use the links below to learn about some of the plants, mushrooms, berries and seeds commonly found in the mid-Atlantic region:

Awareness and prevention

Awareness and prevention are the best defenses against the accidental ingestion of poisonous berries and seeds. Here are a few steps you can take to help protect your child.

Know the name of the plants growing in and near your home. If possible, write the scientific and common names of the plants on a weather-proof tag and attach it to the plant.

If you’re not sure of this information, take a cutting (a 6- to 8-inch piece that includes leaves, berries and flowers) from the shrub to a garden center, nursery or florist for identification.

If an accidental ingestion does happen, this information will be very helpful to the Poison Control Center.

Check your children's play areas often for growing weeds and remove them before your children find them. Clean up fallen seeds or pods from nearby trees.

For removal of poison ivy, oak or sumac plants, use only commercial herbicides intended for these plants and follow the manufacturers' directions carefully.

Consider using artificial berries for indoor decorations as an alternative to live berries, which may be poisonous.

Know whom to call. If, in spite of your best efforts at prevention, your child eats unknown or poisonous berries or seeds, call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 as well as your child’s doctor.

More information

For more ways to keep your family safe, see poison prevention.

 

Reviewed by: The Poison Control Center
Date: October 2013

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