During the spring season most of us
are outside gardening and weeding and inadvertently we pick that stray
weed that causes an itchy rash. Here is some information to help you
while you are planting your beautiful flowers, picking those pesky
weeds or just taking a lovely hike in nature’s woods.
You can come into contact with the plant irritant in 4 different ways, you can either:
- Ingest (eat it)
- Contact (touch it, causing skin irritation)
- Absorption (poison is absorbed through the skin)
- Inhalation (breathe or inhale the poison)
All of these range from very minor irritation to
possibly death. It is very difficult to determine how poisonous a plant
is because some you might need to come into contact with a large amount
before a reaction is noted or you might only come into contact with a
small amount before death occurs.
Every plant will vary in its amount of toxicity
due to the growing conditions and the slight variations of its
subspecies. Also, everyone has different levels of resistance when it
comes to poisonous plants.
- Eat what an animal eats. Some animals won’t have a reaction to poisonous plants that humans will.
- Boiling will remove all poisons. Boiling plants removes many poisons but not all poisons.
- Red plants are poisonous. Some that are red are poisonous but not all of them.
Contact Dermatitis is what is caused by
irritation from plants. This can be dangerous if there is contact in or
around the eyes. The oil of the plants is what causes the
irritation. Oils even touched to a piece of equipment then touched
again by a human can be contracted to the human and cause
irritation. Poisonous plants should never be burned due to the smoke
that can get into someone’s eyes or inhaled.
These symptoms include but are not limited to:
burning, reddening, itching, swelling, and blisters. These can show in
a few hours to a few days after contact. You can try to remove the oils
by washing with soap and cold water. If soap and water is not available
you can use dirt or sand but DO NOT use if blisters are apparent. Breaking open blisters is discouraged because it can lead to infection.
Ingestion of plants can be very serious and
cause death very quickly. Do not eat any plants unless they are
properly identified. It is a good idea to keep a log of plants that
Signs and Symptoms of ingestion poisoning can
include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, slowed heart
rate and slowed respirations, headaches, hallucinations, dry mouth,
unconsciousness, coma, and death.
It would be highly beneficial to learn as much
about plants as possible because a poisonous plant is very similar
looking to its non-poisonous relatives that are edible. It would be in
your best interest if before you go into the wilderness you learn to
identify plants in which you may come into contact. Some helpful
resources would be pamphlets, books, botanical gardens and local
natives. You should also cross-reference any and all information
because one source might not have all the information you need.
Have a wonderful and safe outdoor experience this May.