Poisonous Plants in Maryland: A Guide for Gardeners


If you’re a gardener in Maryland, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers that certain plants can pose.

While many plants are harmless and even beneficial, there are some that can be toxic if ingested or touched.

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the most common poisonous plants in Maryland and provide tips on how to identify and handle them safely.

Why is it important to know about poisonous plants?

As a gardener, it’s crucial to be aware of poisonous plants for several reasons.

First and foremost, knowing which plants are toxic can help you protect yourself, your family, and your pets from potential harm.

Additionally, being able to identify poisonous plants can prevent accidental ingestion or contact, especially if you have young children or pets who may be curious about the plants in your garden.

Common Poisonous Plants in Maryland

1. Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

Poison ivy is a common plant found throughout Maryland. It is known for its three shiny green leaves and can grow as a vine or shrub.

The leaves contain an oily resin called urushiol, which can cause a painful rash when it comes into contact with the skin.

It’s important to wear protective clothing, such as gloves and long sleeves, when handling poison ivy and to wash any exposed skin thoroughly after contact.

2. Poison Oak (Toxicodendron pubescens)

Similar to poison ivy, poison oak also contains urushiol and can cause a rash upon contact.

It is typically found in wooded areas and can be identified by its three leaflets with scalloped edges. Avoid touching or brushing against poison oak to prevent an allergic reaction.

3. Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

Pokeweed is a tall perennial plant with large, dark green leaves and clusters of purple berries. While the berries are toxic to humans, birds are able to eat them without harm.

It’s important to keep children and pets away from pokeweed and to remove any plants from your garden if you have young ones who may be tempted to eat the berries.

4. Jimsonweed (Datura stramonium)

Jimsonweed, also known as devil’s snare, is a highly toxic plant that can be found in Maryland. It has large, trumpet-shaped flowers and spiky seed pods.

All parts of the plant, including the leaves, flowers, seeds, and roots, contain toxic alkaloids that can cause hallucinations, delirium, and even death if ingested.

Exercise caution and avoid planting jimsonweed in your garden.

5. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

Foxglove is a beautiful flowering plant that is often grown for its tall spikes of tubular flowers.

However, all parts of the plant, especially the leaves and flowers, contain cardiac glycosides that can be toxic if ingested.

It’s important to handle foxglove with gloves and to keep it out of reach of children and pets.

How to Handle Poisonous Plants Safely

When dealing with poisonous plants, it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself and others. Here are some tips for handling poisonous plants safely:

  1. Wear protective clothing, such as gloves, long sleeves, and pants, when working with or near poisonous plants.
  2. Wash your hands and any exposed skin thoroughly after handling poisonous plants.
  3. Teach children about the dangers of poisonous plants and discourage them from touching or eating any unfamiliar plants.
  4. If you suspect that you or someone else has come into contact with a poisonous plant, seek medical attention immediately.
  5. Remove any poisonous plants from your garden, especially if you have young children or pets.

By following these safety guidelines, you can enjoy your garden without worrying about the potential dangers of poisonous plants.


As a gardener in Maryland, it’s important to be aware of the poisonous plants that can be found in your area.

By familiarizing yourself with these plants and taking the necessary precautions, you can create a safe and enjoyable garden for yourself and your loved ones.

Remember to always wear protective clothing, wash your hands after handling plants, and remove any toxic plants from your garden if necessary. Happy gardening!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is poison ivy the only poisonous plant in Maryland?

No, poison ivy is not the only poisonous plant in Maryland.

There are several other plants, such as poison oak, pokeweed, jimsonweed, and foxglove, that can also be toxic if ingested or touched.

How can I identify poison ivy?

Poison ivy can be identified by its three shiny green leaves. It can grow as a vine or shrub and is commonly found in wooded areas. Remember the saying, "Leaves of three, let it be.


What should I do if I come into contact with poison ivy?

If you come into contact with poison ivy, wash the affected area with soap and water as soon as possible. Avoid scratching the rash, as this can cause it to spread.

If the rash is severe or covers a large area of your body, seek medical attention.

Can pets be affected by poisonous plants?

Yes, pets can be affected by poisonous plants.

It’s important to keep toxic plants out of reach of pets and to seek veterinary care if you suspect that your pet has ingested or come into contact with a poisonous plant.

Are there any non-toxic alternatives to these poisonous plants?

Yes, there are many non-toxic alternatives to poisonous plants that you can grow in your garden. Some examples include marigolds, sunflowers, zinnias, and lavender.

These plants not only add beauty to your garden but also attract beneficial insects.

Can I remove poisonous plants from my garden myself?

Yes, you can remove poisonous plants from your garden yourself.

However, it’s important to wear protective clothing, such as gloves and long sleeves, and to take precautions to avoid contact with the plants.

If you’re unsure about how to safely remove a poisonous plant, it’s best to consult a professional.

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