En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - June 09, 2008

From: Hudson, OH
Region: Midwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Poisonous plant in Ohio with hydrangea-like flower
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I was sure that I had read that there is a poisonous bush that is native to Ohio that has flowers something like a white hydrangea..or was it queen ann's lace? I believe the flowers could cause severe respiratory distress. Any ideas of what this shrub could be?

ANSWER:

Hydrangea spp. can be toxic (nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, sweating) but only if eaten in large quantities. Queen Anne's lace (Daucus carota) leaves cause skin irritation, but are edible if cooked properly. I think it is more likely that you read about one of the "hemlocks".

Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) is highly toxic with a large variety of symptoms. This is an introduced species from Europe and is, supposedly, what Socrates drank when sentenced to death for "refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state" and "of corrupting the youth". Even though it is introduced it has spread over almost all of North America, including most of Canada.

Water hemlock (Cicuta maculata), a native plant of the same family (Family Apiaceae, Carrot Family), is equally as toxic with similar symptoms. This native species has a similar distribution.

You can find more information about these two from the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System by searching on their botanical names. For Conium maculatum one of the "General symptoms of poisoning" under "Humans" is "death by asphyxiation". For Cicuta maculata, under "General poisoning notes", death is listed as "from asphyxiation".  The Indiana Plants Poisonous to Livestock and Pets data base lists these two in their "Extremely  Toxic" list.  These are definitely two plants to be avoided!


Hydrangea arborescens

Cicuta maculata

 

 

 

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Plant for privacy hedge in Oklahoma that is not poisonous to dogs
April 01, 2012 - Hello! I am looking to put a privacy hedge fence in my yard. I love the look of American Holly, however, I have a dog who eats everything so I worry that this will not be a wise choice with the b...
view the full question and answer

Different colors of Argemone spp. from McAllen TX
March 16, 2014 - I took pictures of at least 5 colors of pricklepoppy today. Is this common to have so many colors in one area? How do I harvest the seedpods and when is the best time to do so?
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant with orange sap that glows at night
June 06, 2012 - I was just pulling up a plant and noticed that its sap was a kind of orange then I noticed it glowing orange at night. What kind of plant is this and is it dangerous?
view the full question and answer

Cutting back non-native oleanders affected by freeze in Austin
January 30, 2010 - After the last hard freeze makes my oleanders look dead. Can I cut them down to the ground this time of year?
view the full question and answer

Trees poisonous to horses from Landrum SC
April 15, 2012 - Please tell me if the following trees are poisonous to horses: hickory, beech, poplar, and redbud. Thank you very much.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center