Merck Manual

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Moderately Poisonous Plants

Moderately Poisonous Plants

Plant

Symptoms

Treatment

Aloe and related plants

Gastroenteritis, kidney inflammation, and skin irritation

Supportive care* if the plant is swallowed and flushing (irrigation) with soap and water if the skin is irritated

Apricot, wild cherry, and peach pits and apple and other seeds (Prunus and Malus species), usually only if many seeds are chewed and swallowed

Symptoms of oxygen deprivation, such as nausea, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, headache, vomiting, drowsiness, and poor coordination (similar to those of carbon monoxide poisoning)

For serious poisoning, hydroxocobalamin given by vein and use of a cyanide antidote kit (including amyl nitrate given by inhalation and sodium nitrite and sodium thiosulfate given intravenously)

Aristolochia (also called birthworts or pipevines)

Formation of scar tissue in the kidneys

Supportive care*

Azalea

Cholinergic† symptoms

Supportive care* and atropine

Caladium (also called elephant ear or angel's wings) and related plants

Irritation of the mouth due to calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves

Supportive care* and use of milk or ice cream to help dissolve the irritant

Capsicum and related plants (peppers)

Irritation of the skin and mucous membranes

Supportive care* and flooding the affected area with water to wash the substance away (irrigation)

Colchicine (autumn crocus, meadow saffron, or glory lily)

Delayed gastroenteritis and malfunction (failure) of many organ systems

Interference with the bone marrow's ability to produce blood cells and platelets, possibly causing anemia, infection, and/or bleeding

Supportive care*

Deadly nightshade

Anticholinergic‡ symptoms, a high body temperature, seizures, and hallucinations

Supportive care*

For a very high body temperature or seizures, possibly physostigmine

Dumbcane (dieffenbachia)

Damage to the mouth due to calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves

Supportive care* and use of milk or ice cream to help dissolve the crystals

Fava beans

In people with a deficiency of the enzyme G6PD (which protects red blood cells), gastroenteritis, fever, headache, and hemolytic anemia

Supportive care*

For severe anemia and poisoning, gradual removal and replacement of blood with equal volumes of fresh donor blood (exchange transfusion) considered

Green potatoes and potato sprouts

Gastroenteritis, hallucinations, and delirium

Supportive care*

Holly berries

Supportive care*

Jimsonweed

Anticholinergic‡ symptoms, a high body temperature, seizures, and hallucinations

Supportive care*

For a very high body temperature or seizures, possibly physostigmine

Licorice (raw plant)

Too little potassium in the blood, high blood pressure, and swelling due to retention of fluid (edema)

Supportive care*

Lily of the valley

Too much potassium in blood and abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)

Supportive care* and antibodies against digitalis

Mistletoe

Supportive care*

Monkshood

A low heart rate, abnormal heart rhythms, numbness and tingling, and weakness

Supportive care*

Sometimes sodium bicarbonate given intravenously

Nettle

Stinging and burning of the skin

Supportive care*

Nightshade, common or woody

Gastroenteritis, hallucinations, and delirium

Supportive care*

Nightshade, deadly

Anticholinergic‡ symptoms, a high body temperature, seizures, and hallucinations

Supportive care*

For a very high body temperature or seizures, possibly physostigmine

Pennyroyal

Damage to the liver (when severe, causing jaundice, confusion, and a tendency to bleed)

Acetylcysteine

Philodendron and related plants

Damage to the mouth due to calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves

Supportive care* and use of milk or ice cream to help dissolve the crystals

Poinsettia

Mild irritation if it touches the mucous membranes of the mouth, nasal passages, vagina, or urethra

Unnecessary

Poison ivy

Inflammation of the skin (dermatitis) or mucous membranes

Avoidance of known irritants; treatment of specific symptoms

Pokeweed

Irritation if it touches the mucous membranes of the mouth, nasal passages, vagina, or urethra

Supportive care*

Pothos

Damage to the mouth due to calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves

Supportive care* and use of milk or ice cream to help dissolve the crystals

Yew

Rarely, seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, and coma

Supportive care*

* Supportive care may include fluids given by vein (intravenously), treatments to maintain body functions (such as drugs to lower fever), drugs to increase blood pressure if it drops, and a ventilator.

† Cholinergic symptoms include a slow heart rate, weakened contraction of the heart, dangerously low blood pressure, difficulty breathing (because airways are constricted), flushing, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, increased urination and salivation, watery eyes, increased sweating, and muscle cramping.

‡ Anticholinergic symptoms include confusion, blurred vision, constipation, dry mouth, light-headedness, difficulty starting and continuing to urinate, and loss of bladder control.

G6PD = glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase.