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

Wednesday - July 22, 2009

From: Greensburg, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: What tree berries causes blisters in PA?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

This summer my family was playing with some berries picked from a tree in our backyard. They would place them in their mouths and shoot them through homemade pea-shooters. Shortly after everyone began to experience severe poison ivy like symptoms, swelling, redness, irritation, blisters etc. We were informed by the dr. that it was a poison arrowwood tree. I have searched and searched and can't find anything that matches it. It grew in tree form and had small green peas or berries.

ANSWER:

Several plant species, both native and non-native are known as arrowwood.  The plants most often refered to by that common name are several of the Viburnum species, especially Viburnum dentatum (southern arrowwood).  Other native viburnums known as arrowwood include, Viburnum rafinesquianum (downy arrowwood), Viburnum recognitum (southern arrowwood) and Viburnum obovatum (small-leaf arrowwood)Viburnum molle, Soft-leaf viburnum is also known as Poison haw.  Other genera also include species known as arrowwood such as. Euonymus atropurpureus (burningbush).  Some non-native plants, including Frangula alnus are sometimes called arrowwood.

However, we will not be able to identify your mystery plant without good, close-up images of the leaves and fruit at a minimum.  Pictures of the whole plant and close-ups of the flowers will also be helpful. Please see the Ask Mr. Smarty Plants ID page for more detailed instructions on submitting images for identification.

Finally, we would not discount the possibility that your family was picking and pea-shooting the fruit of Toxicodendron radicans (eastern poison ivy).  It commonly grows up and through shrubs and trees and produces lots of berries.

 

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Identification of possible toxic plant in Austin, TX
June 20, 2014 - When we hike with our dogs along Turkey Creek in Austin, they seem to make a bee line to a small green leafy plant when they find it along the trail and eat a few leaves of it. We assume it's not dan...
view the full question and answer

Is any part of Mountain Laurel poisonous to goats from Belton TX
May 02, 2013 - We are considering planting Mountain Laurel in a field where we keep goats. Will any part of the Mountain Laurel be poisonous if eaten by the goats? If it would be poisonous, could you suggest some o...
view the full question and answer

Is Thyme Toxic to Cats?
April 15, 2015 - Is 'Pink Chintz' thyme, the ground cover, toxic to cats?
view the full question and answer

Cenizo safe for consumption by parrots from Phoenix AZ
April 30, 2012 - Could you tell me if Cenizo, (Leucophyllum frutescens) branches and leaves can be fed to pets? (parrots)I read the leaves were often used for tea for humans, but can't find an information if safe fo...
view the full question and answer

poisonous landscaping plants in New Mexico
November 21, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I have been given the task of finding non poisonous plants and shrubbery to add to our new children's playground. This is a Head Start playground so I have to make sure anything w...
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