Many poisonous plants in Georgia, like the poison oak or poison sumac, can be commonly seen all over the state, so it is crucial to know their distinctive features and avoid them.
While all the plants on the list are poisonous, most cause burning to itchy sensations once they contact your skin. However, others, like the Belladonna or the harmless at-first-look Chinese Lantern, can cause severe damage and even lead to death if ingested.
Because of the risk these dangerous and commonly seen poisonous plants in Georgia pose, you should learn more to know how to avoid them.
- List of Poisonous Plants in Georgia
- 1. Poison Oak ( T.diversilobum – T. radicans)
- 2. Chokeberry or Aronia (Photinia melanocarpa)
- 3. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
- 4. Caladium (Caladium bicolor)
- 5. Birch Tree (Betula)
- 6. Water Hemlock (Cicuta)
- 7. Lily of The Valley (Convallaria majalis)
- 8. Chinese Lantern (Physalis alkekengi)
- 9. Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix)
- 10. Dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum)
- 11. Belladonna (Atropa belladonna)
- 12. Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
- 13. Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
List of Poisonous Plants in Georgia
1. Poison Oak ( T.diversilobum – T. radicans)
When we talk about this poisonous plant, we should mention that two well-known subspecies are almost identical and grow in similar habitats. Therefore the only difference is how they are spread in America, as their names suggest.
Once you spot the plant, you can easily distinguish it by its leaf lobes that strongly resemble oak ones. Usually, the lobs are three or five in number, and the leaves are green to dull green.
The poison oak, Georgia inhabited, grows in shrubs or vines near other trees or stones and is about up to three feet in height.
Talking about the poison, this plant contains a toxic called urushiol which causes an uneasy feeling on your skin. The poisonous oak’s most common way to get “burned” is by touching its stem, sap, or leaves. Upon doing so, your skin will feel an itchy and burning sensation that can last days and only worsen with time and sun exposure.
2. Chokeberry or Aronia (Photinia melanocarpa)
There are many types, but the most well-known types include Black, Red, and Purple Chokeberries, a hybrid.
Like most berries, they are found natively in North America’s wet woods and swamps on shrubs. Their name comes from their too-sour taste, making the mouth pucker when eaten.
Black Chokeberry is the most used of the three variations on the smaller side. The bush is only around two to four feet tall and wide, with white flowers and black fruit. They grow best planted under trees while also being resistant to drought, insects, pollution, and diseases.
When it comes to being poisonous, we ought to say that for humans, it is not. As you know, there are many products with Aronia flavor. However, when it comes to our pets, it is recommended to keep them far away from them. Ingesting the chokeberry fruits can lead to poisoning!
A fact is that despite the taste, chokeberries can be eaten raw or processed to make other products like wine, jam, syrup, juice, tea, salsa, extracts, beer, ice cream, or gummies.
3. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
The stinging nettle, also known as common nettle, is a plant seen all over the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Asia.
In the wild, the plant is seen in huge quantities. That is because it can be dioecious or monoecious, which stands for a plant that is female/male or can bear both male and female flowers depending on its subspecies. Thus the spreading of the nettle is much easier and faster.
In color, the stem and leaves are green. It can grow up to six feet in height. Similarly to many poisonous flowers in Georgia, the nettle’s stem and leaves are covered in hair ( trichomes).
This hair also causes the burning effects we feel on our skin. The trichomes have a needle shape that, on touch, pokes the skin and inserts the toxins(formic acid). Surprisingly enough, you won’t even feel it at first till the place gets itchy.
An interesting fact about the stinging nettle is that only the young plants cause the itchy sensation; older ones do not.
4. Caladium (Caladium bicolor)
The caladium, also known as angel wings or elephant ear, is a plant from the arum family. This flower is mainly seen in the wild in the tropical parts of America. However, many people cultivate it and have it in their homes due to its beautiful leaves.
Caladium is not a flower that grows high. Instead, its leaves have an attractive shape that resembles wings. They vary greatly, but the most common one is red-colored leaves with green edges.
These qualities of the topical plant made it famous as an ornamental flower for many people, similar to the castor bean. However, it’s essential to note that it is poisonous, and keeping it around kids is not easy or wise.
Elephant ears contain calcium oxalate crystals. They are the toxins we consider toxic as by ingesting them, you, your pet, or your kid can experience swelling or burning sensation of the lips or throat.
The interesting thing about caladium is that it does not have a stem. Instead, the elongated petioles are what support the beautiful leaves.
5. Birch Tree (Betula)
The birch tree is something you can see worldwide. However, it prefers the cooler regions of the northern hemisphere, where it can thrive.
You can easily recognize the tree because its bark is white and smooth and usually peels horizontally. However, when it comes to the birch tree leaves, we can say that they’re green in color, and in the autumn, they turn red to yellowish and sometimes orange.
The Birch itself is not poisonous to touch like many other plants on the list. And although there are not many poisonous trees in Georgia, this one is. So, for example, trying to ingest some of its bark is dangerous.
Nevertheless, it is wise to keep an eye on kids or dogs that may do so. The effects of eating the bark or branches usually are related to stomach pain that, in some cases, can grow into heart issues if the quantities of the ingested birch wood are large.
As an interesting fact, we can point out that the average height of these surprisingly toxic trees in Georgia reaches 40 feet tall!
6. Water Hemlock (Cicuta)
The water hemlock is a beautiful plant that grows in temperatures not too cold or too hot. The flowers love wet and marshy places and often grow specifically in areas around water sources.
The common poison hemlock Georgia people see is the one you most likely see in America. It usually grows about eight ft tall and is often mistaken for non-poisonous plants like wild carrots or parsnips. It has divided leaves and clusters of white for hours beside its all-green body.
What makes this plant poisonous is the cytotoxin it contains in its stems and leaves. It is one of the most toxic you can find in America. Even a tiny portion of the plants is dangerous when it’s ingested. It does not matter if you’re a human or animal. If you eat it, it can easily be fatal, especially without timely treatment.
Fact – the treatment depends on the severity of the poisoning. In some cases, it may be impossible.
7. Lily of The Valley (Convallaria majalis)
This plant can be seen in many parts of Europe and Asia and some parts of eastern North America.
It does not grow tall and can often be found in groups where many flowers form a dense mat on the ground. However, it loves the shade and grows in many temperatures without being too pretentious.
The lily of the valley has green leaves and staple, while the flower is white and bell-shaped. That is often used for this decoration for many occasions. On top of that, the fragrance from the point is impressive enough to make it memorable for many.
However, many people do not know that the lily of the valley is poisonous. It contains toxins called cardiac glycosides. They are dangerous for humans and animals, so try to avoid ingesting them, or you might find yourself in serious trouble.
The interesting fact about it is that although favored by all brides, the plant has biblical origins.
8. Chinese Lantern (Physalis alkekengi)
The Chinese lantern plant, also known as ground cherry or physalis, is a plant that can be seen in many places around the world.
The ground cherry is not capricious towards the temperature. On the contrary, it grows easily, and many people use it for decoration because of its gorgeous looks.
You first notice the lantern-shaped bells usually containing the fruit. They are typically orange to red and attached to the plant’s stem. The whole flower is green, but once it’s mature and it’s time for the fruits to rip, the stem dries and turns brown. Likewise, the fruits inside turn from green to orange to red.
It’s important to note that the fruits of the Chinese lantern are edible but only when they are ripe. You risk poisoning yourself if you try to eat them while they’re green.
Also, unripe berries and leaves can cause many issues when digested. Examples are headaches, vomiting, stomach ache, and breathing problems. If you experience any of the symptoms, contact your doctor.
9. Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix)
The poison sumac is next on our list. You can also see it named the poison elder, but it’s the same plant.
This poisonous plant is from the cashew family, one of the few toxic plants of their family, together with the poison oak and poison Ivy. Being from the same family, they share many similar features and the exact toxic – urushiol.
Likewise with other poisonous flowers in Georgia, upon touching this plan, your skin will feel like burning. Here, however, the difference is with the intensity of the itchiness you will feel.
The poison sumac is much more persistent than its cousins when it comes to giving you a headache. That is because the burning sensation you feel can stay with you for days or even weeks, causing severe discomfort if you do not take any measures.
Knowing how to recognize the plant to avoid such issues is best. Usually, it grows in shrubs and can reach about 20 feet in height. The leaves are green, with about ten oval-shaped leaflets.
The only difference you may spot in the leaves is seasonal, as they turn orange to red in the fall or bright orange if the plant is still young. Another characteristic you can notice is the fruits and white drupes that are pretty easily noticeable.
10. Dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum)
Also known as Amy root, Indian hemp, or wild cotton, it grows in most North America and the southern half of Canada.
The plant loves the wooded areas and hillsides where it thrives the best. Dogbane can grow up to about six feet tall. It has red stems and milky latex inside, which is not a good surprise when you cut it as it can cause painful skin blisters.
The leaves are long, broad, and smooth on top, with white hairs below. Flowers have large sepals and five-lobed white corollas.
Apocynum means “poisonous to dogs” but is also unsafe to ingest for humans. However, it was used by Native Americans to make bows, traps, hunting nets, bags, and clothing. They also used it to treat a lot of illnesses.
The only edible part of the plant is its raw or cooked seed after crushing it into a powder. It has multiple purposes in medicine for treating fever and dysentery, as a sedative and mildly hypnotic.
11. Belladonna (Atropa belladonna)
Belladonna, also known as Deadly Nightshade, is a toxic plant that grows up to about five feet high. It has dull green leaves and violet-green flowers. The same later turns into shiny black berries. You can often find the deadly nightshade in woods, mainly in Southern and Central Europe and Asia.
Have you wondered about the name Deadly Nightshade? It comes from the poisonous characteristics of the plant. Parts of the toxic plant include atropine, a slow-acting poison that mainly attacks the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates involuntary activities such as breathing and heartbeat.
While one of the most toxic plants we know, Belladonna can also be used in medicine, mainly as an antidote. One of the side effects of eating the poisonous berries is hallucinations which humans may have used for fun.
A fun fact about this plant is that it got its name (Belladonna) from the Italian meaning of “beautiful woman” because back then, women used it to change the color of their pupils to seem more attractive.
12. Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
Devil’s Ivy has many other common names: Golden Photos, Ceylon Creeper, Hunter’s Robe, Ivy Arum, and many more.
It is native to Mo’ora, a volcanic island in French Polynesia. Thus you can assume that it likes the tropical climate.
This evergreen vine can climb to about 65 feet by sticking to various surfaces like trees or rocks. It has big heart-shaped leaves as a juvenile plant and a pinnatifid pattern as a mature one. The Devil’s poison Ivy is a persistent plant that is hard to kill since it can thrive under any condition, even in very dark areas.
The plant is toxic to cats and dogs while only mildly harmful to humans(primarily itchy hands). However, if your cat or dog gets poisoned by it, their mouths will be irritated and possibly their stomachs, too, and it can cause vomiting.
13. Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
The plant is also seen as Victoria Creeper, five-leaved Ivy, or five fingers. It’s found in eastern and central North America, from southeastern Canada and the eastern United States west to Manitoba and Utah, and even some parts of the south to eastern Mexico and Guatemala. It is among the few poisonous vines in Georgia.
The Ivy is a good climber, with its solid adhesive pads on small roots, growing about 60 to 90 feet in height. Leaves have toothed margins, and it grows small black berries.
It is important to note that these fruits are not edible as they are toxic for humans. However, other animals, like birds, make good use of them as a food source during the cold winters.
In daily life, the Virginia Creeper is often used as an ornamental plant as they rapidly cover walls and buildings and are perfect for decoration.
Geeky fact – Parthenocissus comes from the Greek meaning “virgin ivy,” and quinquefolia means “five-leaved.”
There are many poisonous plants in Georgia that you may encounter; some cause itchiness on the skin, and others can cause nausea, vomiting, or even death if you ingest them.
In our article, we looked at each of them and pointed out their distinctive features, some interesting facts about them, and where they grow. Look at Caladium, for example; many people have it without knowing the risks of this beautiful yet dangerous flower.
After you have read everything about the poisonous plants in Georgia, do you, by chance, have any of them in your home?
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