The Wild Foodies of Philly
   In search of the food beneath our feet!



POISON IVY VINE  all parts & the smoke from burning them  Urushiol-induced contact dermatitis is the allergic reaction caused by poison ivy. In extreme cases, a reaction can progress to anaphylaxis. Around 15% to 30% of people have no allergic reaction to urushiol, but most people will have a greater reaction with repeated or more concentrated exposure.


POISON OAK VINE – all parts & the smoke from burning them  …causes itching; then evolves into dermatitis with inflammation, colorless bumps, severe itching, and blistering… leafless branches and twigs contact also causes allergic reactions…extremely hazardous, from wildfires, controlled burns, or disposal fires. The smoke can poison people … Branches used to toast food over campfires can cause reactions internally and externally

WHITE HELLEBORE / FALSE HELLEBORE – looks like the edible hosta  The plant is highly toxic, causing nausea and vomiting. If the poison is not evacuated, cold sweat and vertigo appears. Respiration slows, cardiac rhythm and blood pressure falls, eventually leading to death.


JACK-IN-THE-PULPIT – all parts toxic   The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals as raphides in all parts, and because of this consumption of the raw plant material results in a powerful burning sensation. It can cause irritation of the mouth and digestive system, and on rare occasions the swelling of the mouth and throat may be severe enough to affect breathing.If the plant is properly dried or cooked it can be eaten as a root vegetable. A preparation of the root was reported to have been used by Native Americans as a treatment for sore eyes. Preparations were also made to treat rheumatism, bronchitis, and snakebites, as well as to induce sterility.

NIGHTSHADE / HORSE NETTLE  - all parts toxic While ingesting any part of the plant can cause fever, headache, scratchy throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, ingesting the fruit can cause abdominal pain, circulatory and respiratory depression, or even death.

BITTER NIGHTSHADE – avoid all parts, berry toxic The fruit is an ovoid red berry about 1 cm long, soft and juicy, with the aspect and odor of a tiny tomato, and edible for some birds, which disperse the seeds widely. However, the berry is poisonous to humans and livestock, and the berry's attractive and familiar look make it dangerous for children.

CANADIAN MOONSEED – all parts toxic, no tendrils as with edible grapevines, half-moon seeds, unlike round grape seeds   All parts of these plants are known to be poisonous. The principal toxin is the alkaloid dauricine. The fruit of Canada Moonseed are poisonous and can be fatal.

POISON SUMAC – all parts irritant to skin (edible cousin – Staghorn Sumac) white flowers in spring, white berries in fall All parts of the plant contain a resin called urushiol that causes skin and mucous membrane irritation to humans. When burned, inhalation of the smoke may cause the rash to appear on the lining of the lungs, causing extreme pain and possibly fatal respiratory difficulty.

DOGBANE – all parts toxic, except perhaps seeds (see below), looks like milkweed, but woody & multi-stemmed All parts of the plant are poisonous and can cause cardiac arrest if ingested.   Seeds are edible? 

GREATER CELENDINE  - all parts toxic, orange-yellow latex sap  The whole plant is toxic in moderate doses as it contains a range of isoquinoline alkaloids but there are numerous therapeutic uses when used at the correct dosage. Yes, celandine is a toxic plant. It contains a corrosive caustic juice, and it is rich in toxic alkaloids. Its medicinal use must be carefully controlled . It is Not recommended for internal use.

JIMSON WEED/ THORN APPLE  - all parts toxic 
All parts of Datura plants contain dangerous levels of the tropane alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine, which are classified as deliriants, or anticholinergics. The risk of fatal overdose is high among uninformed users, and many hospitalizations occur amongst recreational users who ingest the plant for its psychoactive effects.

YEW BUSH / TREE - Most parts toxic, except red sweet flesh that surrounds its highly toxic black seed Symptoms of yew poisoning include an accelerated heart rate, muscle tremors, convulsions, collapse, difficulty breathing, circulation impairment and eventually heart failure. However, there may be no symptoms, and if poisoning remains undetected death may occur within hours. Fatal poisoning in humans is very rare, usually occurring after consuming yew foliage. The leaves are more toxic than the seed.


POISON HEMLOCK- KNOW THIS PLANT! All parts highly toxic.

Closely resembles wild carrot, but stalks are smooth, not fuzzy, with maroon spots.  A biennial, it sends up its stalk the second year.




WATER HEMLOCK   KNOW THIS PLANT!  All parts highly toxic. ...Upon consumption, both in humans and other species, the symptoms of poisoning are mainly characterized by generalized seizures. The onset of symptoms following ingestion may be as soon as 15 minutes post ingestion. Initial symptoms reported may include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, tremors, confusion, weakness, dizziness, and drowsiness;although the rapid onset of seizure activity may be the first sign presented following poisoning.


Riesenbaerenklau4.jpg Heracleum mantegazzianum 05.JPG - The sap of giant hogweed causes phytophotodermatitis in humans, resulting in blisters, long-lasting scars, and—if it comes in contact with eyes—blindness. These serious reactions are due to the furocoumarin derivatives in the leaves, roots, stems, flowers, and seeds of the plant.


HORSE CHESTNUT TREE – all parts toxic, looks like Chestnut Raw Horse Chestnut seed, leaf, bark and flower are toxic due to the presence of esculin and should not be ingested. Horse chestnut seed is classified by the FDA as an unsafe herb. The glycoside and saponin constituents are considered toxic.

MISTLETOE – all parts toxic, grows in trees, visible in winter Ingesting the berries can cause "stomach and intestinal irritation with diarrhea, lowered blood pressure, and slow pulse".


Galanthus nivalis Snowdrop, Common Snowdrop