Toxic Outdoor Plants

Plants don't come with a warning label--it is up to the individual to know which plants are toxic and may cause harm to children or pets who are intrigued by a tasty-looking berry or flower. Identifying toxic plants is a valuable skill that can help you avoid annoyance or tragedy when enjoying nature.

Common Lantana

A member of the verbena family, common lantana (Lantana camara) is an evergreen shrub that hails from the tropics. A familiar sight in USDA zones 8 to 11, common lantana is cultivated for its butterfly-attracting flowers and its low care requirements. The plant sports textured green leaves accented by groupings of small flowers, whose colors range from pink to orange, red, yellow and white. The drought-tolerant shrub will grow in almost any soil, in partial sun or full sunlight. Exercise caution around the green berries, which are highly toxic if eaten. The foliage of the plant is also toxic, even to livestock and many animals.

Coral Plant

A member of the spurge family, coral plant (Jatropha multifida) is a shrub or small tree native to Mexico, Central America and Brazil. The wiry plant boasts attractive coral-like blooms, which are usually a shade of hot pink. The plant is commonly grown as a specimen or container plant in tropical and subtropical areas, and can be seen in the United States in gardens in USDA zones 10 to 12. Coral plant is a drought-tolerant plant that can be cultivated in well-drained, rocky soil in either full sun or partial shade. The plant is poisonous if ingested, and the sap of the plant can be a serious skin irritant.

Jimson Weed

A member of the nightshade family, jimson weed (Datura stramonium), also called devil's weed or locoweed, is a flowering plant that boasts large jagged leaves and trumpet shaped white or purplish flowers. A native of North America, Jimson weed is sometimes cultivated as an ornamental in USDA zones 3 to 9--although it is more frequently discovered as a weed. The plant grows in full sun or shade, in most soil types so long as it gets a little bit of water. The plant is highly toxic, and deadly in rare instances. Cultivating the plant is banned in some states, so check if the plant is legal before cultivating.

Keywords: toxic plants, plant types, outdoor plants

About this Author

Michelle Wishhart is a writer based out of Astoria, Ore. She has been writing professionally for five years, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for an alternative weekly paper in Santa Cruz. She has a B.A. in fine arts from the University of California in Santa Cruz and a minor in English literature.