7 poisonous plants

What to avoid touching and/or eating in the great outdoors

By Ruane RemyRuane Remy

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Leatherwood

Photo by Miguel Vieira

Dirca palustris

This medium-sized (1–3 metres) shrub has very flexible and leathery branches—they can be tied into knots while still alive—and a tough, poisonous bark. In the spring, yellow flowers bloom before leaves bud. Leatherwood is found in the woods of Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. Its fruit starts off green, then changes from yellow to an orange colour by the end of summer.

Eating leatherwood bark will blister and irritate the mouth.

First aid tips: Spit out the bark and call the Ontario Poison Centre. Keep a sample of the plant for identification.


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