Poisonous

  • Mushrooms

  • Media
    Photo of a blusher, a tan gilled mushroom, showing injured spot turning rust red
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Amanita spp. (about 600 species, worldwide)
    Description
    This large group of mushrooms accounts for 90 percent of mushroom-related deaths, so every mushroom hunter should be familiar with amanitas. They contain one of the deadliest poisons found in nature!
  • Media
    orange mushroom growing off a tree stump.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Gymnopilus junonius (formerly G. spectabilis)
    Description
    Big laughing gym mushrooms are large, orangish yellow, and have a ring on the stalk. They grow in clusters on stumps and trunks of deciduous trees, on the ground, or over buried wood.
  • Media
    Photo of two gigantic red false morels, cut and laying on a ground
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Gyromitra caroliniana
    Description
    The big red false morel belongs to a group of poisonous mushrooms. It has a reddish brown, convoluted, brainlike cap and a whitish stalk that is chambered inside. It grows singly or in groups in mixed woods.
  • Media
    Photo of several deadly galerina mushroom caps, viewed from above.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Galerina marginata (G. autumnalis)
    Description
    The deadly galerina has a brownish, sticky cap, yellowish to rusty gills, and a ring on the stalk. It grows scattered or clustered on deciduous and coniferous logs.
  • Media
    Photo of destroying angel showing large saclike cup around the base of stalk
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Amanita bisporigera
    Description
    The destroying angel is all white, with a ring on the stalk and a large, saclike cup around the base of the stalk. This deadly poisonous mushroom is very common, growing on the ground in mixed woods and in grass near trees.
  • Media
    Photo of emetic russula mushroom with red cap and whitish stalk
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Russula emetica
    Description
    The emetic russula has a uniformly red cap with off-white gills and stalk; its flesh and stalk are brittle. It grows singly or in groups, on moss and in mixed woods.
  • Media
    Photo of gabled false morel, a floppy, orange club fungus
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Gyromitra brunnea
    Description
    The gabled false morel has a reddish brown, lobed, wrinkled cap and a whitish stalk that is chambered inside, not hollow. It grows singly or in groups in mixed woods.
  • Media
    hand holding white, umbrella-shaped mushroom
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Chlorophyllum molybdites
    Description
    Green-spored lepiotas are large, white, with broad, cream-colored scales on the cap, white gills that turn gray-green, and a ring on the stalk. They grow in lawns and meadows, often in a circular arrangement called a "fairy ring."
  • Media
    jack-o-lantern mushroom
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Omphalotus illudens (formerly O. olearius)
    Description
    Jack-o’-lanterns are bright orange to yellowish orange, with sharp-edged gills that descend the stalk. They grow in clusters, at the base of stumps, and from buried roots of oak and other deciduous wood.
  • Media
    Photo of a pigskin puffball.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Scleroderma citrinum (Scleroderma aurantium)
    Description
    The pigskin puffball is a rounded, warted, yellowish brown ball with blackish purple flesh. It grows on the ground, on wood debris, and near trees in woods.
  • Media
    a row of little brown, umbrella-shaped mushrooms along a decaying log
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Various species of confusingly similar mushrooms
    Description
    Like the LGBs (“little gray birds”) of the birdwatchers, this is a catchall category. It includes all the small to medium-sized, hard-to-identify brownish mushroom with spores of all colors. There are many hundreds of species that fit this description!

  • Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

  • Media
    Illustration of Carolina moonseed leaves, flowers, fruits
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Cocculus carolinus
    Description
    Carolina moonseed is a slender, twining vine. It is scattered in southern and eastern Missouri. It bears clusters of bright red, somewhat flattened fruits. The disk-shaped seeds are spiraled like a snail shell.
  • Media
    Illustration of common moonseed leaves, flowers, fruits
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Menispermum canadense
    Description
    Common moonseed is a rather slender, twining vine that climbs or sprawls. It occurs nearly statewide. It bears clusters of bluish-black fruits. The seeds are flattened, with a raised edge shaped like a crescent moon.
  • Media
    Illustration of cupseed leaves, flowers, fruits
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Calycocarpum lyonii
    Description
    Cupseed is a relatively stout, robust twining vine that dies back to the ground in severe winters. It is scattered south of the Missouri River. It bears clusters of black fruits. The seeds are shaped like little cups.
  • Media
    Illustration of eastern leatherwood leaves, flowers, fruits
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Dirca palustris
    Description
    Eastern leatherwood is a native shrub of bottomlands, stream banks, and bases of bluffs. It has unusual little dangling yellow flowers, and its twigs are surprisingly flexible.
  • Media
    Photo of a heavenly bamboo, nandina, plant growing in the woods.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Nandina domestica
    Description
    Heavenly bamboo is hardly “heavenly” when it comes to its negative effects on our native plants and animals. A tremendously popular landscaping plant, it readily escapes and is difficult to eradicate.
  • Media
    Illustration of common buckthorn leaves and fruits.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Rhamnus cathartica
    Description
    You might see common buckthorn for sale at a nursery, but don’t buy it! At least six states have banned this invasive exotic, and the difficult-to-control plant is causing problems here in Missouri, too. Learn how to identify it — and avoid it!
  • Media
    Illustration of poison ivy leaves, flowers, fruits.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Toxicodendron radicans
    Description
    Poison ivy is a toxic plant that contains an oil in all its parts that, if you come into contact with it, can cause an intense skin reaction. Learn to recognize it, and sidestep it on your outings.
  • Media
    Illustration of red-berried elderberry leaves, flowers, fruits
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Sambucus pubens
    Description
    Red-berried elderberry reaches 24 feet in height and does not form colonies. Its white flowers, and later, red berries, are in pyramidal clusters. In Missouri, it’s known only from Marion County.

  • Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

  • Media
    Photo of blue false indigo flowering stalk
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Baptisia australis
    Description
    Blue false indigo is a native bushy perennial with three-parted compound leaves and showy, upright stalks of blue pea flowers. The seedpods are inflated and turn black upon maturity, and the seeds rattle around in the dry pods.
  • Media
    Photo of buffalo bur flower and leaves.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Solanum rostratum
    Description
    A spiny annual with bright yellow flowers and dandelion-like leaves, buffalo bur is an introduced member of the nightshade family.
  • Media
    Photo of Carolina larkspur plants with flowers
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Delphinium carolinianum
    Description
    Small blue, lavender, or white flowers shaped like cornucopias dance along the tall stems of this Carolina larkspur, which grows in prairies and grasslands.
  • Media
    Photo of common jimsonweed flower
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Datura stramonium
    Description
    Pretty but poisonous, jimsonweed has white goblet-shaped flowers that open around midnight. This native of tropical America was introduced nearly throughout the United States and thrives in disturbed soils.
  • Media
    Photo of crown vetch, closeup of a flower cluster.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Securigera varia (formerly Coronilla varia)
    Description
    In summer, you’re almost guaranteed to see big colonies of crown vetch along Missouri's highways. This weedy nonnative plant stabilizes the dirt after road construction but degrades our natural ecosystems.
  • Media
    Photo of dwarf larkspur flowers with leaf
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Delphinium tricorne
    Description
    Dwarf larkspur is a single-stemmed perennial with an upright flower stalk bearing racemes of bluish-purple flowers. Like other larkspurs, there is a spurlike appendage behind each flower.
  • Media
    Photo of flowering spurge flowers
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Euphorbia corollata
    Description
    With widespread sprays of small white flowers, flowering spurge looks a lot like the "baby's breath" so popular with florists. Each little "flower" has 5 white false petals surrounding a cup of tiny yellow male flowers and a single female flower.
  • Media
    Green dragon plant in bloom along Katy Trail east of Portland Mo
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Arisaema dracontium
    Description
    What could be cooler than finding a green dragon? This leafy green plant with a long, noodly spadix is closely related to Jack-in-the-pulpit. It occurs in the same habitats but is less common and easily overlooked.
  • Media
    Photo of Jack-in-the-pulpit plant showing foliage and flowering structure
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Arisaema triphyllum
    Description
    Preacher Jack in his “pulpit” is sheltered by the canopylike spathe, which is green with white and brown lengthwise markings. An unforgettable spring wildflower, Jack-in-the-pulpit is common throughout the state.
  • Media
    Photo of leafy spurge seed heads
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Euphorbia esula
    Description
    When you consider the negative effects this plant has on natural habitats, and how hard it is to control or eradicate, you almost want to rename it “leafy scourge”! This invasive plant is spreading in our state. Learn how to identify it.
  • Media
    Photo of pokeweed plant with dangling stalks of ripe and unripe berries.
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Phytolacca americana
    Description
    A tall, smooth, branching plant with red stems and juicy, dark purple berries, pokeweed is both toxic and a traditional edible potherb called poke salat. It is common statewide.
  • Media
    Photo of sesbania flowers and foliage
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Sesbania herbacea (formerly S. exaltata)
    Description
    Sesbania, a type of legume, may become a troublesome species in wetland communities that are managed for waterfowl.
  • Media
    Photo of soapwort plants and flowers
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Saponaria officinalis
    Description
    Soapwort is a tall, showy wildflower that has chemicals in its sap that lather up like soap. Native to Eurasia, it has been introduced worldwide and is a common roadside wildflower.
  • Media
    Photo of southern blue flag iris plants with flowers
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Iris virginica
    Description
    Ten species of iris grow wild in our state, but only four of them are native. Of our native irises, this one is the most common. But drainage “improvements” are eliminating the habitat of this beautiful wetland wildflower.
  • Media
    Star of Bethlehem cluster of plants with flowers
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Ornithogalum umbellatum
    Description
    Star of Bethlehem is an introduced exotic plant that makes clusters of bright white flowers in the spring. It reproduces prolifically by forming a multitude of bulbs underground.
  • Media
    Photo of white baneberry berries
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Actaea pachypoda
    Description
    The flower clusters of white baneberry have many white stamens that persist after the petal-like sepals have fallen off. They bear open clusters of white berries with a small purple dot on each one. They look like the porcelain eyes of dolls.
  • Media
    Photo of white snakeroot leaves and flowers
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Ageratina altissima (formerly Eupatorium rugosum)
    Description
    White snakeroot looks very similar to thoroughworts, but it has triangular leaf blades that are more broadly angled or rounded at the base. White snakeroot is common statewide. It’s a toxic plant if eaten, so it’s good to be able to identify it.
  • Media
    Photo of white wild indigo plant with flowering stalk amid prairie grasses
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Baptisia alba (formerly B. leucantha)
    Description
    White wild indigo is the tallest species of false indigo in Missouri. It has a robust, striking presence, with white flowers and a shrubby look. Look for it statewide, in prairies and glades and along roadsides, streams, and valleys.
  • Media
    Photo of wild four-o'clock flower
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Mirabilis nyctaginea
    Description
    Wild four-o’clock grows in fields, prairies, waste places, roadways, and railroads, often in poor soils. It’s called “four-o’clock,” because the magenta flowers don’t open until late afternoon.
  • Media
    Photo of columbine flower closeup
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Aquilegia canadensis
    Description
    Native to much of eastern North America, this columbine's range almost matches the breeding territory of the ruby-throated hummingbird, its number-one pollinator. Fancy that!
  • Media
    Photo of common water hemlock or spotted cowbane flowers
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Cicuta maculata
    Description
    Full grown, water hemlock looks something like a gigantic Queen Anne's lace, but this common, widespread member of the carrot family is the most toxic plant in North America. All parts are deadly. A piece of root the size of a walnut can kill a cow-sized animal.
  • Media
    Photo of Indian hemp plant
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Apocynum cannabinum
    Description
    Indian hemp is a shrubby, upright perennial with opposite branches and milky sap. This native plant can be a troublesome weed in crop fields and gardens, but Native Americans used its tough, fibrous stems for rope-making.
  • Media
    Photo of horse nettle flowers and leaves
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Solanum carolinense
    Description
    Horse nettle is a native perennial with spiny stems and leaves, white to purplish flowers, and toxic fruits that look like tiny yellow tomatoes. It does well in disturbed habitats, and many people consider it a weed.
  • Media
    Photo of wild comfrey showing flower cluster
    Species Types
    Scientific Name
    Cynoglossum virginianum
    Description
    Wild comfrey has large basal leaves that are soft, hairy, and elliptical with long petioles—they look like hounds’ tongues! The upright flowering stalk has few leaves and looks like a wand.