6 Poisonous Plants That Can Wreck Your Camp

Poisonous plants can really put a damper on your hike or camping trip. It’s all “don’t eat the berries” and “don’t touch the one with this many leaves,”  and yea, some  might even kill ya. So before you set out on the trail, pitch a tent, or squat in the bushes with your pants around your ankles, make sure you know your leaves. Here’s 6  common poisonous plants you don’t want to mess with.

Poison Ivy
It’s the prince of the poisonous plants, found in most regions of North America except the west coast. I’ve known about poison ivy my whole life (who doesn’t?) and still managed to tango with the damn plant a couple months ago while camping at a music festival. In fact, everyone that camped at the site had some sort of poison ivy problem whether just a few itchy bumps or a full body rash.

If you touch this plant, be prepared for burning and itching. It’s not good to scratch your skin, because this will spread the toxic plant oils to other parts of your body, resulting in secondary rashes.Don’t try burning the plant either-  the oils will spread via smoke and if inhaled can cause terrible sickness.

Dress in long pants and shirts. If you realize you’ve made contact, quickly wash your skin with soap and water within 15-20 minutes. Some over the counter remedies to help ease symptoms include IvyBlock, calamine lotion and zinc oxide.

Poison Oak
Poison oak is very similar to poison ivy in that the oils of the plant cause burning and itching spread through contact and smoke. Eastern Poison Oak has three leaves like poison ivy and produces white berries. Western Pacific poison oak is a shrub-like climbing plant that can grow over 8 ft high. Go with long sleeves, pants and boots for protection, and if touched, quickly wash area with soap and water. Check out the remedy Technu, specifically for poison oak exposure.

Poison Sumac
Some consider sumac to be one of the most poisonous plants in the United States. Like poison ivy and oak, it produces oils that have the same irritating effects on skin and lungs if inhaled. It resembles a small tree and can grow up to 30 ft in height. Sumac grows exclusively in boggy, wet areas and swamps around the eastern U.S. Once again, wear those long sleeves people!

Angel Trumpet
Don’t be fooled by the beauty of these pink, trumpet-like petals, because the angel trumpet is not very angelic at all. Consuming the seeds of this flower will result in a horrifying trip, as it is a dangerously hallucinogenic. The risk of overdose is high and consuming too much can result in blindness or even death.

You can find these lovely little devils along the southern coast of the U.S., as they favor warm climates with no threat of frost. They are common in gardens, most likely one of your neighbor’s has them on display in their front yard.

Rosary Pea
These cute little bead-like beans are actually one of the most poisonous plants on earth. If chewed or swallowed, the outcome is not fun. They contain Abrin, an extremely fatal toxin that when ingested leads to vomiting, fever, nausea, seizures and finally, death.

Native to Indonesia and known to be an aggressive grower, Rosary peas have spread quickly all over the world, taking nicely to sub-tropic and tropical climates. It can be found throughtout the southern states of the U.S. and climbs more than 20 ft high.

Backpackers, campers and gardeners beware: If you are an herb gatherer, look out for the aconite or as it is commonly referred: “monkshood”. This pretty purple perennial  is laced with aconitine poison, which is mistaken for horseradish or other white rooted, edible herbs. Ingesting can cause burning of the mouth, diarrhea, vomiting heart irregularities, coma and even death. Touching the plant can cause tingling and numbness in skin.