A Guide to Poison Berries

Poison berries often mask themselves as innocent snacks hanging from bushes and plants, with toxic effects. If your child eats wild berries, and you don't know whether or not they are poisonous, call poison control immediately.

Common Poisonous Berries

This is an evergreen bush that can grow to be a tree. The leaves are rigid with sharp points and the berries are hard and red. Eating more than three holly berries can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and drowsiness. 

Mistletoe is also an evergreen, with white and pink berries. The berries can cause nausea in large amounts, but eating only a few is usually not toxic. However, eating other parts of the plant can cause serious problems such as difficulty with vision and convulsions.

The leaves of this shrub resemble a Christmas tree, being soft and green. The berries are hard and red with a green center.  Ingesting more than three yew berries can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, and changes in your child's heart rate.

Lantana is a perennial shrub with square stems. It is often used as a houseplant or in flower gardens. The flowers are small and may be white, pink, or yellow with green berries that may turn black. Lantana is very poisonous and can be fatal if eaten. Symptoms of poisoning from lantana include vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, and difficulty breathing.

Nightshade is an annual herb with small white flowers and a glossy black berry.  Nightshade is highly toxic and can be fatal if ingested. Symptoms of poisoning from nightshade include nausea, vomiting, salivation, drowsiness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weakness and respiratory depression.

Daphne, can be fatal if ingested. It is a semi-evergreen shrub with lilac, rose or white flowers and red or yellow fruit. Signs of poisoning include swelling of the lips and tongue, thirst, difficulty swallowing, nausea, vomiting, internal bleeding with bloody diarrhea, weakness and coma.

Castor Oil
Castor oil is an annual herb with reddish-purple stems, large leaves, small white flowers and large red fruit. The fruit is prickly with flattened seeds that may be brown, gray and white. Castor oil can be fatal and causes the following symptoms: nausea (which may happen immediately or be delayed), vomiting, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, depression, trembling, sweating, convulsions and coma.

English Ivy
English Ivy is an evergreen, a creeping vine with small, greenish-yellow flowers and black fruit. English Ivy is toxic in large quantities and may cause a burning sensation of throat after eating the berries, delirium, convulsions, hallucinations, stupor, fever, and rash after eating the leaves.

Virginia Creeper
Virginia Creeper is a climbing vine with small flowers that you may not notice and dark blue berries. Virginia Creeper can be fatal if ingested and may also cause nausea, abdominal pain, bloody vomiting and diarrhea, dilated pupils, headache, sweating, weak pulse, drowsiness and face twitching.

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