Wild Arkansas

February 8, 2009

Re-post: Toxic Plants in NW Arkansas

Filed under: foraging, toxic plants — Tags: , — WildArkansas @ 4:53 pm
Poke berries. Toxic or not?

Poke berries. Toxic or not?

Now that spring is around the corner I wanted to re-post this list for new foragers thinking about heading back into the field.

Below is a toxic plant list for Northwest Arkansas. I’ve linked each plant to an article with more information. The list is short, but I hope to update annually or as often as possible. If you know of any that should be included or see a plant that should be taken off the list, please email: maturehealth at yahoo dot com or leave a comment in the comments area.

Aconite – This is part of the monkshood/wolfbane family. Highly toxic.

Buttercups/Ranunculus – Harvey’s and Hairy Buttercups are prevalent in the Ozarks. Look along any trail in the spring and summer…

Datura stramonium – Jimson weed, loco weed

Phytolacca americana – Pokeberry, Poke berry
Article at MatureHealth

Note: Though the pokeberry can be highly toxic, there have been some reports of people eating the berry with no ill effects. The plant also has medicinal properties that are mentioned in the article (in link) but medicinal use by those who don’t know how to use the plant have also resulted in poisoning.

Solanum americanum – American Nightshade
Article at MatureHealth

Solanum carolinense – Horse Nettle
Article at MatureHealth

Taxus —- – Varied species of Yew

Toxicodendron radicans = Rhus radicans – Poison Ivy
Another article at Wikipedia

Toxicodendron vernix – Poison Sumac

Cornell University’s site on substances toxic to livestock and other animals.

Toxic Plant list from the University of Arkansas rated by category. The categories range from 1-4; one being the most toxic and four being non-toxic to humans.



  1. I liked the information that you gave on the poke weed, but it’s not entirely true. The leaves can be cooked similarly to spinach leaves. You have to boil the leaves twice though, and discard the first water. Just thought I’d pass on the information. 🙂

    Comment by Amanda — May 8, 2009 @ 11:24 pm

  2. Just note on Solanum americanum – American Nightshade. When the black fruited variety is fully ripe they are quite safe and delicious. You can even buy selected cultivars of the wild form from many seed companies. Avoid the red-berry form.

    Also I’d echo Amanda’s comments on Phytolacca. The young greens, properly prepared, are quite good.

    It bears mentioning, too, that a derivative from Taxus is a potent anticancer treatment and that the fully ripe berries (minus the seed) are also edible (though not that tasty).
    Keith Johnson
    Permaculture Activist magazine

    Comment by Keith Johnson — December 18, 2009 @ 8:03 pm

  3. you also can peel the stocks and cut and fry like okra—called in the south poor mans okra–ate it lots as well as the pre boiled greens they are great with dadalion greens and spinich or turnip greens

    Comment by BETTY HICKS — August 30, 2010 @ 12:18 am

  4. […] Re-post: Toxic Plants in NW Arkansas February 2009 3 comments 3 […]

    Pingback by 2010 in review « Wild Arkansas — January 2, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  5. Despite the advice given in comments, be very careful when handling pokeweed. Amanda’s comments about the article not being entirely true is based upon her own experience and years of study, research and experience has shown that Phytolacca americana berries and leaves are toxic to humans who DO NOT prepare them properly.

    As far as consumption of the stalks… I quote, “The toxic components of the plant are saponins based on the triterepene genins phytolaccagenin, jaligonic acid, phytolaccagenic acid (phytolaccinic acid), esculentic acid, and pokeberrygenin.[5] These include phytolaccosides A, B, D, E, and G, and phytolaccasaponins B, E, and G. Phytolaccigenin causes hemagglutination.”
    Taken from Wikipedia article notes.

    Comment by WildArkansas — January 7, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

  6. Poison sumac is not found anywhere in the state of Arkansas.

    Comment by Ahuskins — May 18, 2011 @ 1:57 am

  7. Actually it is. Walk around Lake Fayetteville or check out some areas around the creeks in Siloam. Plants, like birds and other life forms tend to migrate. Though you have the idea that those forms are not meant to be in a certain area, logic proves otherwise. It might help to get outside and walk around on occasion.

    Comment by WildArkansas — May 18, 2011 @ 7:22 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: