Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Can oleander poison the ground below it?
June 29, 2013 - Can oleander poison the ground below it? Would it kill/damage grass or other plants below it? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Is Bignonia capreolata (Crossvine) known to cause skin irritation
July 23, 2013 - Is Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata L.) known to cause a rash? We are trying to identify the source of a rash-after-gardening, and have not seen any of the big three (poison ivy, poison oak, poison suma...
view the full question and answer

Puppy-friendly privacy screen in Montana
November 02, 2012 - I need some puppy-friendly short(< 30') privacy from the gigantic windows of my next door neighbor. But- there are power lines above the area that I needed to plant! I had planned on an aspen grove, ...
view the full question and answer

Is Sucissa pratensis (Devil's bit scabious) allelopathic?
July 04, 2013 - Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center pointed me to you. Can you comment on Devil's Bit Scabious? A neighbor pointed out these volunteer plants in my yard and wants me to kill them. He called them Devi...
view the full question and answer

Are globe mallows (Sphaeralcea spp.) harmful to dogs
May 20, 2010 - My dogs eat the wild globe mallow plants in my yard. Could that be harmful to them?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.