Avoid These Dangerous Plants

Being one with nature is the best part of being outdoors. If you are a homeowner, you go to great lengths to make sure your yard is looking its best and that your family is safe from annoying, biting mosquitoes. But there are other dangers out there that you should be aware of, especially if you have pets and children running around outside. These are the most dangerous plants in North Carolina.


Pokeweed is a large, bushy perennial that resembles a small tree. It can quickly grow up to 10 feet in height in a single season. It is characterized by a smooth red-purple stem, large narrow leaves, and clusters of dark purple berries in the fall. Pokeweed grows in pastures, fencerows, open areas, and roadsides. It can be a nuisance to farmers because of it’s large taproot and incredibly fast growth rate. Before removing this plant, be warned. The berries and every part of the plant are poisonous if ingested. Pets and livestock can become sick or even die from ingesting the berries. This is a plant you do not want to grow anywhere near your yard.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy can grow as a shrub or a vine that climbs up the sides of trees. It is easily identified by its clusters of three leaves. The leaves produce a chemical called urushiol, which causes the severe allergic reactions poison ivy is famous for. The oil can remain on surfaces long after the plant has died, so be sure to wash your clothes, tools, and yourself if you have been handling poison ivy. 

Poison Oak

Poison oak is the twin brother of poison ivy. Its leaves pack the same urushiol punch as its sibling, the only difference being its leaves. Poison oak has long, lobed leaves that look like oak tree leaves. The giveaway? The leaves of the poison oak plant grow in clusters of three just like poison ivy, lending credibility to the old phrase, “Leaves of three, let it be”.

Poison Sumac

Sumac is another plant that can cause severe allergic reactions to those unfortunate enough to come in contact with it. Sumac grows as a woody-stemmed tree that can grow up to twenty feet tall. It is usually found in swamps and wetlands. To identify poison sumac, look for stems containing rows of seven to 13 leaves. In the fall, poison sumac leaves turn red, yellow, and pink and produce bright yellow berries. Removal of poison sumac should be done by a professional.

Giant Hogweed

Originally imported to the US from Europe as an ornamental plant in the early 20th century, the giant hogweed resembles cow parsnip. However, the leaves of the giant hogweed are deeply lobed and have short, stiff hairs instead of the soft ones on cow parsnip. Giant hogweed can grow up to fourteen feet. If you find giant hogweed on your property, do not touch it or attempt to remove it as the sap can cause severe burns and even permanent blindness.

Castor Bean Plant

The castor bean plant is a non-native species from the jungles of East Africa. The seeds of this plant are extremely toxic. They contain ricin, one of the deadliest poisons found in nature. Even much more deadly than cyanide or a rattlesnake bite. Just four small seeds could kill the average adult human.

Call the Professionals

When you have troublesome or even dangerous weeds on your property, call the professionals at Coastal Turf. Our technicians are trained in weed removal and know how to do so safely.

Tired of pesky mosquitoes ruining your outdoor events? Call and ask about our mosquito abatement program.

Call today at 843-875-5000 or leave a message on our site. Don’t forget to check our monthly blog for more lawn care tips.