As more Illinoisans venture outside, officials warn about poisonous plants

(The Center Square) – Illinoisans looking to get outside while keeping their distance from others this summer are likely to venture down less-trodden paths, which has the Illinois Poison Center preparing for more calls about exposure to dangerous plants. 

From the nauseating effect of eating an unripe tomato to the cotoneaster’s berries that become cyanide when eaten, the Illinois Poison Center is warning people to be cautious when exploring the wilderness. 

“We want everyone to enjoy their summer,” Illinois Poison Center Assistant Vice President Carol DesLauriers said. “Please err on the side of caution – no matter how tasty a plant looks.”

In 2019, the Illinois Poison Center fielded 1,158 calls related to exposure to plant toxicity, 37% of which were during the summer. Nationally, officials said more than 14,000 exposures were reported to poison centers.

DesLauriers said she expects an increase in calls about plant exposure this summer because residents will want to get out of their homes yet still maintain good social distancing practices. 

Education is the best defense against exposure to dangerous plants, she said. People heading outdoors to explore should know what poison ivy looks like, for instance.

“Most people know to avoid poison ivy, but they don’t realize their own backyard might contain plants that are very dangerous if consumed,” Illinois Poison Center Medical Director Dri. Michael Wahl. “It’s important to understand the potential dangers in summer plants especially if you have young children around.”

Some lesser-known plants can cause skin irritation that can be severe depending on sensitivity. The wild parsnip, common in most of North America, can cause painful welts on skin exposed to the plant and sunlight. It’s common in wooded areas and roadsides in Illinois. 

DesLauriers said calls to the Illinois Poison Center helpline, at 1-800-222-1222, are free, confidential, and could save a trip to the emergency room. 

For a list of dangerous plants to watch out for this summer, go to


via The Center Square

June 29, 2020 at 05:57PM

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