POISONOUS PLANTS OF THE UNITED STATES

Provided as a public service message for parents and for those that take the U.N. message to heart about adding insects to your diet, and who decide to also include wild plants:

Activated charcoal for pediatric poisonings: the universal antidote?

Poisonous Plants of the United States—There are in the United States, numerous common, well-known plants which possess poisonous properties. What these properties are have not been, hitherto, so well-known. The Division of Botany of the United States Department of Agriculture, after three years spent in collecting information concerning these plants, and after numerous experiments, prepared a list of the most common, which will be of great value to farmers and others. They are found growing everywhere and the description of them is made full enough to enable anyone to identify them.

FalseHelleboreFALSE HELLEBORE.—(Veratrum viride —botanical name). Other names: American white hellebore; white hellebore; swamp hellebore; Indian poke; meadow poke; poke root; Indian uncus; puppet root; earth gall; crow poison; devil’s bite; duckretter; itch weed; bugbane; wolfs-bane; bear corn.

It is a stout herb, simple stemmed and perennial; 2 to 7 feet high with a fleshy root, 1 to 3 inches long; large plaited, stemless leaves of varying size, and bears a large, loose terminal cluster of yellowish-green flowers which blossom from May to July.

It is a native of the United States and grows abundantly in wet meadows, along mountain brooks and in cold localities in the south, and is found everywhere from Maine to Alaska. As a medicine, an overdose is fatal, and in its natural state men and animals have been poisoned. The seeds are poisonous to chickens, and its leaves dangerous to all animals except sheep, elk and those which chew the cud. Its root and young leaves are fatal to tan, being frequently eaten in the belief that they are those of the marsh marigold.

The action of the poison is on the heart and spinal cord, both of which it tends to paralyze. It has also a violent emetic and cathartic effect. The symptoms are burning in the throat, an increased flow of saliva, loss of sight, vomiting, purging, severe headache, dizziness, weak pulse, difficulty in breathing and prostration. Death is caused by paralysis of the heart.

American PokeweedPOKEWEED—(Phytolacca decandra— botanical name). Other names: Poke; poke berry; garget; pigeon berry; cocum; jalap; skoke; American nightshade; crowberry: cancer root; chongras; redweed; red-ink plant; pocanbush.

It is a smooth, rank, succulent (juicy), perennial, 6 to 9 feet high. with a thick, half-woody root, purplish stems, large alternate leaves and numerous long clusters of small greenish-white flowers, which blossom throughout the summer, and are followed in autumn by shining, purple-black berries. It grows in rich. moist soils, especially as a weed in cultivated and waste grounds from Maine and Northern Illinois to Florida. and westward to Texas, eastern Kansas, and southern Minnesota.

The pokeweed is a well-known plant and has many household uses when deprived of its poisonous qualities. The root and the alcoholic extract of the fruit, are regarded as remedies for the itch and other skin diseases and for rheumatism. The fresh shoots are esteemed as a substitute for asparagus, but the root must be carefully removed, or it will give the mess a bitter taste, and a large amount of the root will prove dangerous. Some birds eat the berries with perfect safety, but they are poisonous to human beings.

The root is often mistaken for that of the parsnip, artichoke, and horse-radish. The seed is the most fatal part of the plant. It is a violent but slow-acting emetic; it affects the nerves and muscles, producing retching, spasms, severe purging, and sometimes convulsions. Death is due to the paralysis of the respiring organs (windpipe and lungs).

CornCockleCORN COCKLE—(Agrostemma githago —botanical name) Other names: Cockle; rose campion; bastard nigelle; old maid’s pink; licheta; crown of the field.

It is a whitish, woolly annual, 1 to 3 feet high, with an erect stem, showy, violet-red flowers, and numerous rough, black, irregularly rounded seeds, very much wrinkled, whence the name “cockle.”

It is a noxious weed in Europe, and in the United States it is found in the grain fields from Maine to North Dakota, southward through eastern Kansas to Louisiana and Florida; seldom in Wyoming and California, and scarcely at all in the dry regions of the west. The poison is freely soluble in water, and has a sharp, burning taste. It has no odor, but when inhaled in the smallest quantity it produces violent sneezing. When briskly shaken up with water, it froths like soap. The poison is found in nearly all parts of the plant, but mainly in the kernel of the seed.

Poultry and household animals are frequently poisoned by it, but poisoning is generally produced by a poor grade of flour made from wheat containing cockle seeds. Machinery is used to remove these seeds from the wheat, but the difficulty of separating them is so great that the result is not entirely accomplished. In European countries the quantity of these poisonous seeds in wheat sometimes amounts to 30 or 40 per cent. Flour containing a smaller amount has often been made into bread and eaten with fatal results, the heat of the baking oven and the chemical action of yeast, etc., not always being sufficient to decompose, or destroy the effects of the poison. The effect may be acute (temporary), or, if a small quantity of the meal is eaten regularly, it may become chronic, in which case it is a disease sometimes known under the name of “githagism.”

The symptoms of acute poisoning are: Intense irritation of the whole digestive tract; vomiting; headache; nausea; vertigo; diarrhea; hot skin; sharp pains in the spine; difficulty in walking, and depressed breathing. Stupor sometimes sets in and it may be followed by death. Experiments in chronic or repeated and continual uses of the cockle, show chronic diarrhea and gradual depression, loss of vigor in breathing and muscular movements until death ensues.

Corn cockle meal is easily detected in second and third class flour by the presence of the black, roughened scales of the seed coat. These are sure to occur if the flour has not been well bolted. Its presence is also detected by the peculiar odor produced when the meal is moistened.

The plant is propagated by the cockle seeds in wheat used for planting.

DwarfLarkspur2DWARF LARKSPUR—(Delphinium tricorne—botanical name) Other name: Stagger weed. The larkspurs are a numerous family of erect herbs, with palm shaped leaves, and a long cluster of showy flowers. They are commonly blue, and are further characterized by the absence of green parts, and the presence of a peculiar spur-like appendage. There are over 25 species native to the United States, few of which have a very wide distribution, but some of the Western species are extremely abundant in their natural place of growth. They have a general reputation of being poisonous to cattle.

The dwarf larkspur is a smooth, simple-stemmed perennial, 6 to 12 inches high, with a tuberous root, deeply 5-parted leaves, and a long, loose cluster of blue (sometimes white) flowers, which appear in April and May. It grows in clayey soil and open woods, from Pennsylvania and the mountains of North Carolina to Southern Minnesota. It is especially fatal to cattle in April when the fresh leaves appear.

WyomingLarkspur2WYOMING LARKSPUR— (Delphinum geyeri—botanical name) Other name: Poison weed. This is a somewhat hairy perennial, 10 to 20 inches high, with a large, sphere-shaped tuft of rather thick dull-green leaves, and a central column of deep azure-blue flowers. It is a common prairie plant of Wyoming and northern Colorado, where it is the most troublesome of the poisonous plants of that section. Ranchmen suffer considerable loss from it, especially in early spring, when the dark green tufts of foliage are conspicuous features of a dry and barren landscape.

PurpleLarkspur1PURPLE LARKSPUR—(Delphinum menziesii—botanical name) A hairy tuberous-rooted perennial, about a foot high, at the base of which is a cluster of finely divided, long-stemmed leaves, and a single column of showy blue flowers, which appear at any time between April and July. The flowers are few in number, but are extra large, being from 1 to 11; inches broad. This species is found native on hillsides from the vicinity of San Francisco to British Columbia and eastward as far as South Dakota. In Montana it is very common.

Cattlemen place the percentage of fatal cases where cattle eat this plant at 20 per cent, when the animals are not properly treated, and 5 per cent otherwise.

Other species of larkspur in the same locality, poisonous to animals are: the tall mountain larkspur, sometimes known as cow poison, which grows in moist shady places from Monterrey, California, to British Columbia.

A lavender-colored, fleshy-rooted larkspur, also fatal to animals, grows in the moist salty soils south of San Francisco and Stockton.

Sierra Exif JPEGBLACK CHERRY—(Prunus serotina— botanical name) Other names: wild black cherry; wild cherry; rum cherry; whiskey cherry.

A valuable forest tree, 60 to 80 feet high, with thin, reddish-brown, scaly bark, tapering, saw-edged leaves, cylindrical clusters of small white flowers, appearing in April and May, and shining black, edible fruit, about a quarter of an inch in diameter. It grows abundantly in forests in the Middle Atlantic and Ohio River States; in the open country in the Southern New England and Gulf States, and westward from Illinois to South Dakota, eastern Nebraska and Arkansas. It is extensively cultivated as a shade and ornamental tree in Wyoming and Colorado, and eastward to the Atlantic.

The fruit is pleasant though slightly bitter and astringent in taste, and in some localities it is much used to flavor liquor. Poisoning is frequently caused in cattle by eating the wilted leaves from branches thrown carelessly within their reach. Children occasionally die from eating the kernels of the seed or from swallowing the fruit whole. The base of the poison in the black cherry is prussic acid, the smell of which like that of almonds, can always be distinguished, and as cattle are fond of the flavor, which is strong in the leaves, they often find death in their food.

The symptoms of poisoning in cattle are: Labored breathing, diminished pulse, numbness, protruding eyeballs, convulsions, and death from paralysis of the lungs. In some cases there is frothing at the mouth, and always an unmistakable odor of prussic acid in the breath.

Astragalus mollissimus2WOOLLY LOCO WEED — (Astragalus mollissimus—botanical name) Other names: Loco weed; crazy weed, so-called from the Spanish or Mexican word which means “crazy.” A silvery-white, silky leaved perennial, 8 to 12 inches high, with an abundance of soft foliage springing out in a cluster from a short central stem close to the ground. The flowers are pea shaped and usually purple. The pod is distinctively two-celled. The plant is a native of the Great Plains region, extending from Western Texas and New Mexico northward to South Dakota and Wyoming, being most abundant in Colorado and in the western part of Nebraska and Kansas. It grows both on the open prairie and on rocky hillsides.

Horses, cattle, and sheep are affected by loco, but the principal damage is done to horses. The effect is slow, such as that caused in man, by the continued, excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, or morphine. There are two stages. The first, which may last for several months, is a period of hallucination or mania, accompanied by defective eyesight, during which the animal may perform all sorts of ridiculous antics. Having acquired a taste for the plant, the animal refuses every other kind of food, and the second stage is ushered in. This is a lingering period of emaciation, characterized by sunken eyeballs, lusterless hair, and feeble movements. The animal finally dies as if from starvation, in periods ranging from a few months to one or two years.

There are over half a dozen species of this plant, all of them highly detrimental to live stock, and particularly dangerous as most of them are green at periods when other vegetation is dry and brown, and, therefore, eagerly eaten by cattle.

ARAGALLUSLAMBERTISTEMLESS LOCO WEED—(Aragallus lambertii—botanical name) Other names: Loco weed; crazy weed; Colorado loco vetch. This plant differs from the true loco weed most conspicuously in its more erect and branchless habit, its longer leaflets, which are long, instead of egg shaped, and the one-celled seed pod. It ranges over the same territory as the woolly loco weed, but extends farther, being found throughout the Great Plains from British America to Mexico, and flourishes higher in the mountains, being found at an elevation of 8,000 feet above the sea level. Its poisonous character, symptoms and effects are the same as in the case of the true loco weed.

Crotalaria sagittalisRATTLEBOX—(Crotalaria sagittalis —botanical name) Other names: Rattleweed; wild pea. A hairy annual, 3 to 18 inches high, with simple undivided leaves, 1 to 2 inches long, and small, yellow pea like flowers appearing in July. The seed pods are about an inch in length when mature, and are nearly black. They are much inflated, and as the walls are stiff and thin and very resonant, they make excellent miniature rattles when the seeds have become detached from their fastenings inside the pod. They give a sharp rattle at every wind or other cause which shakes the plant. It is a native in low sandy soils from the Atlantic to Minnesota and Eastern Kansas, and is quite common as far as the Pacific coast.

The poisonous qualities are in the leaves and in the seeds. Horses and cattle are sometimes killed by eating meadow grass mixed with the plant. The symptoms are: Decline of vigor, and a gradual loss of flesh as in loco weed poisoning, but it does not produce the craziness characteristic of the loco.

Euphorbia lathyris1CAPER SPURGE—(Euphorbia lathyris— botanical name) Other names: Garden spurge; myrtle spurge; mole plant; mole weed; mole tree; gopher plant; anti-gopher plant; wild caper; caper bush: wolf’s milk; springwort.

A smooth herb, and milky-juiced perennial, 2 to 3 feet high, with a stiff, erect stem, and opposite four-ranked leaves, the lower of which are thick and oblong, the upper thin, broad, and heart-shaped. The flowers are greenish-yellow and rather small. The three-seeded fruit is conspicuous. It is a common garden plant, sparingly grown in wet ground in California and Texas, and in the Atlantic states from New Jersey to West Virginia and North Carolina.

The fresh milky juice is exceedingly acrid and the fruit is highly purgative and poisonous, and is a dangerous household remedy. Women and children are often poisoned by handling the plant and getting the juice on the face. Cattle are sometimes overcome by its use, but goats will eat it extensively without harm to themselves, but their milk will then possess all the venomous properties of the plant. When applied to the skin, the juice causes redness, itching, pimples, and sometimes gangrene, the effect often lasting more than a week. The seed taken internally in overdose, will inflame the mouth and stomach, and cause intense diarrhea and vomiting. If the dose be large, there will be nervous disorders, unconsciousness, general collapse and death.

Euphorbia marginata1SNOW IN THE MOUNTAIN—(Euphorbia marginata—botanical name) An annual plant 2 to 4 feet high, differing most conspicuously from the caper spurge in its more slender and less branching habit, and in having a broad white margin, or edge around its upper leaves, It is a handsomer plant, and often used for decorative purposes. This spurge is a native weed of the Great Plains from Montana to Mexico and is rapidly spreading eastward. It is cultivated for ornament in the North Atlantic States and has reached Europe.

The poison of this plant reaches the stomach from the eating of honey derived from its flowers. Large quantities of fall honey are annually made in localities where the plant grows in great abundance. The honey is hot and disagreeable to the taste, but does not appear to be a very serious poison, its effects being confined to vomiting and purging. The milky juice, applied to the skin, causes an itching inflammation, accompanied by pimples and blisters which last for several days. This blistering action, is taken advantage of by stock raisers in Texas, who use the juice to brand cattle, it being held by some of them to be superior to a red-hot iron for that purpose, because the scar heals more rapidly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPOISON IVY—(Rhus radicans—botanical name) Other names: Poison oak; poison vine, three-leaved ivy; poison creeper; mercury or markry; black mercury; markweed; pickry.  A climbing or trailing shrub (sometimes erect), with variable three-foliate leaves, aerial rootlets, and greenish flowers, appearing in May and June. The smooth, waxy, white fruit often remains on the plant until late in the winter. The leaves often resemble those of the box-elder. They differ from those of the Virginia creeper in having only three leaflets instead of five. Poison ivy grows everywhere in open brush, in ravines, and on the borders of woods, and it is spread along the roadsides and cultivated fields from seeds carried by crows, woodpeckers, and other birds that feed upon its fruit in winter.

The poison in this plant is a non-volatile oil, that is, an oil that does not evaporate or lose its strength by exposure to the air. It is found in all parts of the plant, even in the wood after long drying. Like all oils it is not soluble in water, and cannot, therefore, be washed off the skin by water alone. It is readily removed by alcohol, and very easily destroyed by an alcoholic solution of sugar of lead (lead acetate). Even burning it is attended with danger, for the smoke carries the poisonous oil and produces the same effect as handling the plant.

Rhus diversiloba1POISON OAK—(Rhus diversiloba— botanical name) Other names: Poison ivy; yeara; California poison sumac. The poison oak differs from the poison ivy mainly in the character of its leaflets, which are thicker and smaller and more nearly elliptical. The similarity of the leaves to those of the Western oaks gives the plant its common name. It grows wherever the poison ivy does, except on mountains, and its poisonous qualities are the same.

Rhus vernix1POISON SUMAC—(Rhus vernix—botanical name) Other names: Swamp sumac; dogwood; poison dogwood; poison elder; poison ash; poison tree; poison wood; poison swamp sumac; thunderwood. A tree-like shrub 6 to 30 feet high, with long pinnate (feather shaped) leaves having from 7 to 13 leaflets, without marginal teeth. The wood has a faint sulphurous odor, which, together with the leaf scars, which are very prominent, enables one to distinguish the plant from other shrubbery in winter. It grows in swamps and in damp woods from Florida to Canada, and westward to Louisiana. The poison affects the skin in the same way as poison ivy, and requires the same remedies.

Aesculus pavia1RED BUCKEYE. — (Aesculus pavia— botanical name) Other names: Small buckeye; buckeye; horse chestnut. A shrub 8 to 12 feet high, with opposite, long-stemmed leaves, and numerous clusters of bright red flowers, which appear in March. The fruit is smooth, even when young; the seeds are mahogany-colored . and are elegantly polished. It grows in fertile valleys from Virginia to Florida, throughout the Gulf States to Louisiana, and in Arkansas. It is cultivated to some extent in Pennsylvania.

Cattle are sometimes killed by eating the fruit, but it is known as a means of catching fish. It was the practice formerly to stir the bruised seeds or twigs into small ponds, when the fish would become stupefied and, rising to the surface could be gathered by the hand. When thoroughly cooked, these fish were quite wholesome.

Aesculus hippocastanum1COMMON HORSE CHESTNUT—(Aesculus hippocastanum) This is regarded as poisonous, though in England, it is fed to cattle after the removal of the poison by thorough washing with alcohol. The Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra), and the California Buckeye (Aesculus Californica), are of a similar nature. The Round Valley Indians roast and leach the nuts in strong lye, and make a palatable soup and bread.

Cicuta maculata1WATER HEMLOCK—(Cicuta maculata —botanical name) Other names: American water hemlock; wild hemlock; spotted hemlock; spotted parsley; snakeweed; beaver poison; musquash root; muskrat weed; cowbane; spotted cowbane; children’s bane; death of man. A smooth, erect, perennial, 3 to 8 feet high, with a stiff, hollow stem, numerous branches, finely dissected leaves, white flowers, and a cluster of spindle-shaped roots, from 1-1/2 to 3 inches long, a characteristic of this plant. It grows in swamps and damp soil east and west.

It is one of the most poisonous plants in the United States, rapidly fatal alike to man and animals. The roots are especially dangerous, as they possess an aromatic taste, which suggests horse-radish, parsnips, artichokes, or sweet cicely. Children are apt to eat the roots on account of their appetizing appearance, temptingly lying above ground, being forced out of the soil by washing, freezing, or other causes, in early spring. Cattle eat the tubers, and in marshes, they are poisoned by drinking water contaminated by the juice of the roots which have been crushed by being trampled upon. The symptoms are: Vomiting, colicky pains, staggering, unconsciousness, and frightful convulsions ending in death.

Cicula vagans1OREGON WATER HEMLOCK—(Cicula vagans—botanical name) Other names: Water hemlock; Cicuta. This species of hemlock has often been mistaken for the common water hemlock, but that variety does not grow in the far northwestern States. Some other plants that are mistaken for it are the so-called “wild celery,” Oregon sweet cicely, and poison hemlock This plant is distinguished by leaves which spring directly from the ground, white flowers blooming in July and August, and a fleshy root which has a muskrat-like odor (musky), and its peculiar roots. It has two kinds of roots, one standing upright from 1 to 6 inches long by 1 to 2 inches thick, divided into numerous chambers by horizontal partitions. This root stock furnishes the bulk of the poison. The other portion of the root consists of solid, fleshy fibers which run along on, or just under the surface of the soil, and send off numerous rootlets from beneath. The plant grows in wet or marshy places, and ranges from British Columbia to northeastern California; and from Idaho to the southern Sierra Nevada. It is fatal to man and animals, some persons dying from having merely nibbled the root through curiosity.

POISON HEMLOCK.—(Conium maculatum—botanical name). Other names: Hemlock; wild hemlock; spotted parsley; stink weed; herb bennet; poison root; poison snakeweed; cashes; wodenwhistle. A smooth, purple spotted, hollow stemmed biennial (two years), 2 to 7 feet high, with large, parsley-like leaves and showy clusters of small white flowers, which appear in July and August. The fresh leaves have a nauseating taste, and when bruised, emit a characteristic mouse like odor. The plant is a native of Europe and Asia, but has become naturalized in the United States where it is common on waysides and in waste places.

The poison is in the seeds, and, especially at flowering time, in the leaves. The root is harmless in March, April and May, but poisonous afterward. This is the historical hemlock plant, which was administered to the Greek philosopher, Socrates and was in general use. The seeds are often mistaken for anise, the leaves for parsley, and the root for parsnip, and children have been poisoned by blowing whistles made from the hollow stem of the plant.

The symptoms are: A gradual weakening of the muscular power, loss of sight, but the mind remains clear until death ensues, which it soon does from the gradual paralysis of the lungs.

BROAD-LEAF LAUREL.——(Kalmia latifolia—botanieal name) Other names: Laurel; ivy; mountain laurel; sheep laurel; poison laurel; wood laurel: small laurel; rose laurel; high laurel; American laurel; poison ivy: ivy bush; ivy wood: big ivy; calico bush; spoonwood; kalmia; Nicky. A fine shrub, usually 4 to 8 feet, but sometimes 30 to 40 feet high. It has thick, flat and shining leaves, showy clusters of peculiarly shaped, viscid (sticky), and odorless pink flowers, which appear in May and June, and a round, sticky, dry uneatable fruit. It grows generally east of the Mississippi river.

Its leaves are commonly used for house decorations in winter, but they are poisonous, even goats dying from eating the leaves. The honey derived from the nectar of the flower is also poisonous, and the leaves are sometimes used to increase the intoxicating effects of liquors. They are also sometimes eaten with fatal effects by children who mistake them for the leaves of Wintergreen.

The symptoms are: Nausea, vomiting, frothing at the mouth, loss of sight, dizziness, drowsiness, stupor and then death. There are half a dozen or more native species of the broad-leaf laurel, all of which are alike poisonous and the symptoms are the same.

Kalmia angustifolia1NARROW-LEAF LAUREL—(Kalmia angustifolia—botanical name) Other names: Sheep laurel; lambkill; sheep poison; lamb laurel; dwarf sheep laurel; small laurel; low laurel; dwarf laurel; Nicky. This plant is the same as the preceding, but smaller, only 2 to 4 feet high, with smaller, thinner, and narrower leaves, and smaller flowers, clustered, not at the extreme end of the stem, but at the ‘base of the flesh shoots. It is of general growth in east of the Mississippi river. Its poisonous qualities are similar to the broad-leaf laurel.

Rhododendron maximum1GREAT LAUREL—(Rhododendron maximum—botanical name) Other names: Laurel; rosebay; mountain laurel; rhododendron; American rosebay; big laurel; big-leaf laurel; horse laurel; deer tongue; cowplant; spoon hutch. A large evergreen bush or small tree, 10 to 20 or 30 feet high, with thick leaves, 4 to 10 inches long, and splendid clusters of large, odorless, pale pink, or nearly white flowers, blossoming in July. A commonly cultivated ornamental tree, native to the Allegheny mountains, but extending northward in isolated patches to Connecticut and New Hampshire. Its poisonous qualities are the same as those of the whole laurel family.

Pieris mariana1STAGGERBUSH—(Pieris mariana—botanical name) Other name: Kill lamb. A weak-limbed shrub, 2 to 4 feet high, with thick, highly veined leaves and showy clusters of tubular white flowers. It is frequent in low, damp soils near the sea coast from Connecticut to Florida, and poisonous to man and animals.

Leucothoe catesbaei1BRANCH IVY—(Leucothoe catesbaei— botanical name) Other names: Hemlock; calf kill; leucothoe; dog laurel. An evergreen shrub, 2 to 4 feet high, with thick, tapering, sharply saw-edged leaves and numerous clusters of small, white, tubular, ill-smelling flowers, which appear in April or May. Found in dense thickets along stream banks and elsewhere-in the Allegheny Mountains from West Virginia to Northern Georgia.

Datura stramonium1JIMSON WEED— (Datura stramonium —botanical name) Other names: Jamestown weed; common stramonium; thorn apple; apple of Peru; devil’s apple: mad apple; stinkwort; stinkweed; Jamestown lily; white man’s plant.

The jimson weeds are rank, ill-smelling plants, with large, funnel-shaped flowers and prickly four-valved seed pods. They were introduced into the United States from Europe and tropical America, one variety of which, growing from 5 to 10 feet high in California and a perennial, is known as the “flora punda.” The United States species is a stout, smooth, bushy annual, 2 to 5 feet high, with a coarse green stem, large, flaccid (limber) leaves, and white, heavy-scented flowers 2 to 4 inches long. The flowers appear from May to September, and the fruit ripens from August to November. The seeds are numerous and about the size of a grain of buckwheat. The smell of all parts of the plant is nauseating. There is a purple-stemmed jimson weed, common in the south and west, but its characteristics are the same as all the other varieties. .

The poison is a stimulant and its excessive use is dangerous. Children sometimes are fatally poisoned by eating the seeds. Cattle also have been poisoned by eating the leaves of young plants which were present in grass hay. The symptoms of the poisoning are: Headache, vertigo, nausea, extreme thirst, dry, burning skin and general nervous confusion, with loss of sight and of voluntary motion; sometimes mania, convulsions and death. Inhaling or breathing the fumes from the burning dried leaves is often practiced to find relief from an attack of asthma.

Solanum nigrum1BLACK NIGHTSHADE—(Solanum nigrum—botanical name) Other names: Common nightshade; nightshade; deadly nightshade; garden nightshade. A smooth annual, 1 to 2 feet high, with rough, angular, widely branching stems; oval leaves, 2 to 4 inches long, with wavy margins or edges; drooping clusters of small white flowers, and black, globose, juicy berries, which ripen from July to October. It flourishes everywhere.

The poisonous properties of this plant depend upon the conditions of growth. It is not always poisonous, though fatal cases have been noted in the case of calves, sheep, goats, and swine. Those plants which have a pronounced musky odor are considered poisonous.

The symptoms are: Stupefaction, staggering, loss of speech, feeling and consciousness; cramps and sometimes convulsions. The berries are considered poisonous.

Solanum dulcamara1BITTERSWEET— (Solanum dulcamara —botanical name). Other names: Woody nightshade; nightshade vine; staff vine; fever twig; tetonwort. A climbing, woody, perennial, 3 to 6 or 8 feet high, With thin leaves, the lowermost of which are ovate or heart-shaped, the upper, more or less spear-shaped. The flowers are purple, the fruit red. It ripens from July to October and November. It flourishes along brooks and ditches from Massachusetts to Ohio, and less common elsewhere. The berry is somewhat poisonous, and an extract of the leaves moderately so.

Helenium autumnale4SNEEZEWEED — (Helenium autumnale —botanical name) Other names: Sneezewort; sneezeweed; staggerweed; swamp sunflower; false sunflower. A smooth, angular, branching perennial, 1 to 3 feet high, with rather thick lance-shaped leaves, and a large number of showy yellow flowers, which do not appear until autumn. Common in moist ground everywhere in the United States.

The whole plant, especially the flower, is bitter and pungent. The powdered plant causes violent sneezing when inhaled and is used as a remedy to produce that effect. It is poisonous to sheep, cattle and horses, who develop a taste for it, and are killed by eating large quantities. In fatal cases death is preceded by spasms and convulsions.

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