pinyang

Common Toxic Herbs and their Effects

This is not a complete list by any means, but these commonly noted plants, herbs, and flowers should be handled with care or avoided altogether. 

Aconite (Wolfsbane, Monkshood) - all parts: dermatoxic, hepatotoxic, and neurotoxic

Adam and Eve (Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Wild Arum) - root: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic if ingested

African Sumac - leaves: dermatoxic; possibly fatal

Agave - juice: dermatoxic  

Angel’s Trumpet - all parts: cardiotoxic; often fatal

Apple - seeds: cytotoxic in large doses

Apricot - leaves and seeds: cytotoxic in large doses

Arnica - gastrotoxic 

Asparagus - berries: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic if ingested

Azalea - all parts: cytotoxic and neurotoxic; rarely fatal

Betel Nut Palm (Pinyang) - all parts: gastrotoxic if ingested

Bittersweet Nightshade - all parts: neurotoxic and gastrotoxic; rarely fatal

Black Hellebore - all parts: cardiotoxic and gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Black Locust (False Acacia) - root bark and flowers: gastrotoxic

Black Nightshade - all parts except ripe fruit: neurotoxic and gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Bleeding Heart - leaves and roots: neurotoxic

Bloodroot - rhizomes: cytotoxic

Blue Passion Flower (Common Passion Flower) - leaves: cytotoxic

Bracken - all parts: carcinogenic

Buttercup - all parts: gastrotoxic and dermatoxic 

Calabar Bean (Ordeal Beans) - seeds: neurotoxic and gastrotoxic if ingested in large doses

Cassava - leaves and roots: cytotoxic in large doses

Castor Bean (Castor Oil Plant) - seeds: cytotoxic if ingested or inhaled

Celandine - nephrotoxic 

Cherry - leaves and seeds: cytotoxic in large doses

Christmas Rose - all parts: gastrotoxic

Cocklebur - seedlings and seeds: gastrotoxic and neurotoxic

Columbine - seeds and roots: cardiotoxic; easily fatal

Corn Lily (False Hellebore) - all parts: cardiotoxic; often fatal

Cowbane (Water Hemlock, Snakeweed) - root: neurotoxic if ingested

Daffodil - bulbs and stems: gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Datura/Moonflower - all parts: gastrotoxic and cardiotoxic

Deadly Nightshade (Belladonna) - all parts: cardiotoxic and neurotoxic; often fatal

Desert Rose (Sabi Star, Kudu) - sap: cardiotoxic with skin contact

Dumbcane - all parts: dermatoxic; possibly fatal

Elder (Elderberry) - root: gastrotoxic

Elephant Ear (Angel Wings) - all parts: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic

Ergot - neurotoxic 

Foxglove - leaves, seeds, and flowers: cardiotoxic; often fatal

Garlic - all parts: gastrotoxic in animals

Giant Hogweed - all parts: dermatoxic

Golden Chain - all parts, especially seeds: neurotoxic and gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Goldenseal - all parts: gastrotoxic and neurotoxic in large doses

Grapes/Raisins - all parts: gastrotoxic in dogs

Greater Celandine - all parts: gastrotoxic in large doses

Hemlock (Spotted Cowbane, Poison Snakeweed) - all parts: neurotoxic; possibly fatal

Hemlock Water Dropwort - roots: neurotoxic if ingested; possibly fatal

Henbane - all parts: neurotoxic and cardiotoxic

Holly - berries: gastrotoxic

Honeybush - all parts: gastrotoxic

Honeysuckle - berries: gastrotoxic in mild cases and cardiotoxic in severe cases

Horse Chestnut - all parts: neurotoxic

Hyacinth - bulbs: gastrotoxic and neurotoxic; possibly fatal

Iris - rhizomes: gastrotoxic and dermatoxic 

Jequirity (Crab’s Eye, Rosary Pea) - seeds: neurotoxic and gastrotoxic; often fatal

Kava Kava - nephrotoxic, hepatotoxic 

Kidney Bean - raw: gastrotoxic

Larkspur - young plants and seeds: neurotoxic; often fatal

Lemon - oil: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic to animals  

Lily - all parts: nephrotoxic

Lily of the Nile (Calla Lily) - all parts: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic if ingested; possibly fatal

Lily of the Valley - all parts: cardiotoxic; possibly fatal

Lima Beans - raw: gastrotoxic

Lime - oil: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic in animals

Lobelia - all parts: gastrotoxic 

Mandrake - roots and leaves: gastrotoxic and neurotoxic

Mango - peel and sap: dermatoxic

Mangrove - bark and sap: dermatoxic and eye irritation

Mayapple - all green parts and unripe fruit: gastrotoxic

Meadow Saffron (Autumn Crocus) - bulbs: gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Mistletoe - leaves and berries: gastrotoxic, cardiotoxic, and neurotoxic; rarely lethal in adults

Moonseed - fruits and seeds: gastrotoxic; often fatal

Mountain Laurel - all green parts: gastrotoxic

Nutmeg - raw: psychoactive in large doses

Oak - leaves and acorns: gastrotoxic; rarely fatal

Odollam Tree (Suicide Tree) - seeds: cardiotoxic; often fatal

Oleander - all parts: dermatoxic, cardiotoxic, and gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Onions - all parts: gastrotoxic in animals

Orange - oil: dermatoxic and gastrotoxic in animals

Peach - seeds and leaves: cytotoxic in large doses

Pokeweed - leaves, berries, and roots: gastrotoxic; often fatal

Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac - all parts, especially leaves: dermatoxic; possibly fatal

Poison Ryegrass (Darnel) - seeds: neurotoxic

Potato - raw: cytotoxic

Privet - berries and leaves: neurotoxic and gastrotoxic; possibly fatal

Ragwort - all parts: hepatotoxic

Redoul - all parts: gastrotoxic, neurotoxic, and causes respiratory issues; can be fatal in children

Rhubarb - leaves: nephrotoxic

Skullcap - hepatotoxic

Spindle (Spindle Tree) - fruit: hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic; possibly fatal  

Stinging Tree (Gympie Gympie) - bark and sap: dermatoxic; sometimes fatal

Strychnine Tree - seeds: neurotoxic; often fatal

Sweet Pea - seeds: neurotoxic and damaging to connective tissues

Tomato - leaves and stems: cytotoxic in large doses

Uva Ursi - neurotoxic, dermatoxic 

White Baneberry (Doll’s Eyes) - all parts, especially berries: cardiotoxic; possibly fatal

White Snakeroot - all parts: gastrotoxic; often fatal

Winter Cherry (Jerusalem Cherry) - all parts, especially berries: gastrotoxic; occasionally fatal, especially to children

Wisteria - gastrotoxic

Yew (English Yew, Common Yew) - leaves and seeds: gastrotoxic if ingested and respiratory issues if inhaled


definitions of terms used in this list: 

  • carcinogenic - a substance that can cause cancer
  • cardiotoxic - toxic to the heart 
  • cytotoxic - toxic to living cells
  • dermatoxic - toxic to the skin
  • gastrotoxic - toxic to the gastrointestinal system (stomach, intestines, etc.)
  • hepatotoxic - toxic to the liver
  • nephrotoxic - toxic to the kidneys and urological system (ureters, bladder)
  • neurotoxic - toxic to the neurological system (brain, nerves, brainstem, spinal cord, etc.)
  • psychoactive - pertaining to substances that change brain function and result in alterations in perception, mood, or consciousness

last updated: 1-10-2016