Wild parsnip has been gaining national attention as a wild flower that can cause severe rashes and burns. That plant can be found in Illinois, but so can some other potentially dangerous wild plants.
If you venture out this summer, the following list is one to pay close attention to if you want to avoid ruining your trip.
Jimsonweed features white or pale-purple flowers that are trumpet-shaped and are four to six inches long. The leaves of the plant are large and coarsely toothed. Seed pods are covered with spines. All parts of the plant are poisonous, and coming into contact with it can lead to hot and dry skin, hallucinations, fever, seizures, and elevated heart rate/blood pressure.
Nightshade climbs or grows as a vine. Flowers are in clusters and each one has five petals that can be purple, yellow, or white. A beak-type structure points away from the center of each flower. All parts of the plant are poisonous, including the sometimes-ingested berries. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache and muscle cramping are all potential effects of coming into contact with the plant.
Poison hemlock grows along streams and ditches. It may reach four to ten feet in height. The stems are hollow, branched and have purple spots. Fern-like leaves exist on the plant. Each plant has a single white taproot that resembles a carrot or parsnip. Small white flowers develop in clusters. All parts of poison hemlock are poisonous. Nausea, vomiting, confusion, muscle paralysis, decreased breathing, and even death are possible side effects of touching the plant.
Pokeweed grows in woods, fields, and disturbed areas throughout Illinois. It’s an herbaceous plant that can grow ten feet high. The stem is red-purple, the leaves are long and smooth, and the flower stalks are long and usually develop paired with the leaves. Flowers are green-white and typically see dark purple berries grow on them. All parts of this plant can contribute to poisoning. Headache, vomiting, sore throat, abdominal pain, fever, agitation, cough, blurred vision, and irregular heartbeat are possible symptoms.
This is not the entire list of potentially harmful plants and flowers in Illinois. Poison ivy, poison oak, some garden and landscaping plants, and some house/holiday plants can be toxic and harmful to humans.