Poke berries are the purple grape-like fruits of the Pokeweed plant. Poke berries grow in clumps on red stems and look attractive to the eye, appearing like they would make a good snack for a hungry passerby. Before snacking on these berries, it would be good to find out if they are edible or poisonous.
Poke berries are more poisonous when green than when they are ripe. Poke berries contain saponins such as phytolaccagenin, toxic to humans and most mammals. Symptoms of Poke berry poisoning are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Symptom severity will depend on the amount consumed.
Are Poke Berries Poisonous To Humans?
The entire Pokeweed plant is toxic to humans, and the berries are not exempt from this. Although the berries have lower doses of the poisonous substance phytolaccagenin, they are still dangerous enough.
Depending on the person’s size and the amount consumed will depend on the severity of the side effect. If you are an average-sized adult and consume Poke berries in large quantities, you can expect to feel some side effects within 2 – 6 hours after eating them. Eating one or two berries should not have any adverse side effects for your average adult.
Poke berry poisoning symptoms can include: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, burning sensation in your mouth, throat, esophagus, lightheadedness or dizziness, headaches, difficulty breathing, and irregular heart rates.
Extreme side effects include vomiting blood, bloody diarrhea, and convulsions. It would help if you got yourself to a doctor straight away in these cases as there have been fatalities due to Poke berry ingestion, and these fatalities are usually the result of respiratory paralysis.
The Pokeweed plant can cause skin irritation or dermatitis if your skin comes in direct contact with the plant. Direct contact can occur when picking poke berries. Symptoms of skin contact with Pokeweed include red rashes, itchiness, and swelling on the affected area. Treatment for this might consist of cortisone cream applied to the affected area.
Are Poke Berries Poisonous To Dogs?
As all parts of the Pokeweed plant are poisonous for most mammals, dogs are not exempt from this. Poke berries can poison your dog if they consume them, and depending on the amount consumed will depend on how severe the symptoms might be.
Symptoms of Poke berry poisoning in dogs include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, swelling of the stomach and intestines, hypotension, and ultimately death.
If you are concerned that your dog might have ingested some Poke berries, the best thing is to contact your vet immediately. It is best not to wait for your dogs’ symptoms to appear, as this could already be too late.
Treatment of Poke berry poisoning in dogs varies depending on the amount consumed and the severity of the symptoms. The treatments could include blood transfusions, oxygen therapy, placing your dog on a drip, giving your dog activated charcoal, amongst other treatments.
Are Poke Berries Poisonous To Cats?
Poke berries are considered toxic to cats. The entire Pokeweed plant is poisonous for cats, especially the roots and berries. The severity of the poisoning symptoms will depend on the size of your pet and the number of Poke berries they consumed.
Symptoms of poisoning could include vomiting, diarrhea, spasms, and convulsions, ultimately leading to death if not treated correctly and in time. If you think that your cat might have ingested some Poke berries, the best course of action for you to follow would be to contact your local veterinarian for further treatment instruction.
Are Poke Berries Poisonous To Horses?
Poke berries are poisonous to horses if consumed. The severity of the poisoning symptoms will depend on how many berries your horse consumed. Symptoms of Poke berry consumption include diarrhea, the feeling of burning in the mouth, and low-grade chronic colic.
Luckily pokeweed plants, in general, are not that palatable to horses, so as long as they have access to good quality forage, they shouldn’t consume any Poke berries. If you are concerned that your horse may have accidentally eaten some Poke berries, you should contact your local veterinarian for further instruction on how to handle the situation.
Are Poke Berries Poisonous To Livestock?
Poke berries are toxic to livestock such as sheep and cows. These animals will avoid the berries in most cases, but they might consume some of the berries if other food sources are scarce. Symptoms of Poke berry poisoning can take two or more hours to show, including vomiting or retching.
Depending on how many berries the animal consumes, symptoms may evolve into watery diarrhea, tremors, dyspnea, spasms, and perspiration. In cows, this is usually also accompanied by decreased milk production.
Are Poke Berries Poisonous To Pigs?
Like sheep, cows, and horses, pigs are susceptible to Poke berry poisoning. With pigs, symptoms of Poke berry poisoning will include vomiting, retching, and in more severe cases, dyspnea, tremors, spasms, perspiration, inability to rise, instability if they do, subnormal temperatures, and jerking movements of their legs.
Is The Pokeweed Plant Poisonous?
Overall, the Pokeweed plant is poisonous to humans and most mammals, from its roots, stems, leaves, and berries. The older the plant gets, the more toxins it produces and the more toxic it becomes. The new shoots and leaves are harvested, boiled multiple times, and turned into a meal that some people happily consume.
The roots of the Pokeweed plant are highly toxic, and there are reported cases of people eating the plants’ roots by mistake and shortly afterward succumbing to Pokeweed poisoning.
Symptoms of Pokeweed poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and cramps, burning sensation in your mouth, throat, esophagus, lightheadedness or dizziness, headaches, difficulty breathing, and irregular heart rates. Fatalities are usually due to respiratory paralysis.
Contact your local doctor or the poison control center if you are concerned about Pokeweed poisoning. The Pokeweed plant can also cause dermatitis if it comes into contact with unbroken skin and mild poisoning symptoms if it comes into contact with broken skin.
What To Do If Your Child Consumes Poke Berries
Small children are the most in danger of consuming Poke berries, and this is because children often mistake the berries for grapes eating large numbers before a parent even realizes what is happing. Telltale signs of Poke berry ingestion in children include purple hands and mouths.
If you are concerned and believe that your child may have consumed Poke berries, the best thing is to contact the poison control center or take your child to see a doctor. Even one berry can poison a small child and could even lead to an untimely death.
It is best always to consult a medical practitioner in these cases and refrain from making your child vomit the berries up as this can cause other problems. Even if the medical practitioner only advises you to feed and water your child while monitoring them, you should always contact a medical or poison official to make sure.