14 Poisonous Plants in South Carolina

South Carolina is blessed with a vast array of some of the most stunning flora and fauna, with vivid hues and distinctive foliage. With that said, the state is also home to some poisonous plant species. Read on to discover 14 poisonous plants in South Carolina!

The Palmetto State has its fair share of toxic and poisonous plants. Some of them are not poisonous to humans but can harm livestock. Meanwhile, some of these plants are incredibly toxic to humans, pets, and birds. Depending on the toxicity of the plant, coming into contact with a poisonous plant can cause you to develop skin rash, blisters, irritation, and itching. Ingesting such plants can result in a variety of issues, such as an upset stomach, vomiting, breathing troubles, liver-related issues, muscle spasms, and more.

You certainly want to be well-versed about these poisonous plants so that you can keep your children, pets, and yourself away from them. If you know all about the potential toxicity of the plants in your garden or the ones growing in your home’s vicinity, you can handle them with care or stay away from them. It will also help you deal with the symptoms upon accidental contact or ingestion.

Here are 14 poisonous plants you can find in South Carolina:

1. Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix)

Poison Sumac Toxicodendron vernix
Joshua Mayer Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix)

Poison Sumac is a woody, deciduous shrub or tree that grows in hardwood forests, swamps, and other wet regions. This plant features small, greenish-yellow blooms, reddish stems, v-shaped, elongated, smooth-edged, velvety leaves, and ivory-white or gray fruits. Poison Sumac releases urushiol, a poisonous oil that causes dermatitis. Direct contact with this plant can cause your skin to burn, itch, swell up, and form blisters.

2. Oleander (Nerium oleander)

Nerium oleander Oleander
Forest and Kim Starr Nerium oleander (Oleander)

Oleander is a flowering, ornamental, evergreen shrub that has poisonous milky sap. Also known as Rosebay, Oleander is a Mediterranean native characterized by its tall, shrubby foliage with thick, lance-shaped leaves and clusters of rosy, white, or yellow flowers. This plant contains toxic cardiac glycosides, which can cause fatality when ingested because they affect the heart and can slow down your heart rate.

3. Tree Tobacco (Nicotiana glauca)

Tree Tobacco
Homer Edward Price Tree Tobacco

Also known as Tobacco Bush or Wild Tobacco, Tree Tobacco is a tender, semi-evergreen, fast-growing perennial that bears yellow tubular blooms. It also features thick, rubbery, almost succulent, saucer-shaped leaves that develop a striking silver-blue hue. It grows in various habitats, such as lakeshores and roadsides. This plant contains a chemical known as anabasine, which can cause brain damage, muscle spasms, seizures, severe vomiting, breathing issues, high blood pressure, and fatality.

4. Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)

Star of bethlehem ornithogalum umbellatum
Yay Star of bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)

Star of Bethlehem is a widespread plan spread throughout Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asai. This bulbous perennial forms carpets of low-growing, strap-shaped basal leaves that are topped with star-shaped or cup-shaped, white, orange, or yellow blooms. All parts of this plant can cause severe discomfort when ingested, and its sap might cause skin irritation.

5. Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans)

Poison Sumac Toxicodendron vernix
Joshua Mayer Poison Sumac (Toxicodendron vernix)

An eastern North American native, Poison Ivy, contains urushiol, a toxic oil that causes severe inflammation and itchiness of the skin. This condition is known as dermatitis. Poison Ivy is a dioecious plant with variable foliage that features hairy, toothed, lobed leaves that turn yellow, orange, and red in autumn. This plan also features white or green drupes and yellow or green small flowers.

6. Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)

Giant hogweed
Yay Giant hogweed

Giant Hogweed was only introduced to the United States in the last century. It’s an invasive, large species that features hollow, ridged stems, white blooms that grow in massive compound umbels, and large, 5-feet-wide, compound, and incised leaves. This plant grows along streams, yards, rivers, and roadsides in well-drained, moist sunlight with abundant light. It’s an exceptionally poisonous plant, and skin contact with its parts or sap in the presence of UV light can cause itching, blistering, and swelling that lasts for months and causes your skin to become UV sensitive.

7. Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversilobum)

Poison Oak
Jerry Kirkhart Poison Oak

Poison Oak is a southeastern United States, North American, and Western North American native that contains urushiol. Direct contact with its sap and laves will cause your skin to develop painful inflammation and itch. It can grow into a climbing woody vine or a small shrub with compound foliage featuring five-lobed leaflets. This slow-growing, upright shrub has dull green leaves that are distinctly teethed and resemble oak leaves.

8. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Stinging nettle urtica dioica
Yay Stinging nettle (urtica dioica)

Also known as Common Nettle, Stinging Nettle is a weedy, herbaceous, perennial plant known for its stinging leaves. It features yellow creeping rhizomes, toothed, opposite leaves covered in several stinging and non-stinging hairs, and tiny white or green blooms that grow in dense, whorled clusters. The leaves have bulbous tips with needle-like tubes that pierce the skin and cause burning rash and itchiness.

9. Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Carolina Jessamine Gelsemium sempervirens
Surely Shirly Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Carolina jessamine is a fast-growing, evergreen to a semi-evergreen vine that features attractive, bright yellow, fragrant flowers that bloom in later winter to early spring. This vine climbs wonderfully over fences, trellis, or walls without overcrowding the surrounding trees or shrubs. Touching the vine can cause skin irritation, and ingesting any part of it can cause poisoning as it contains gelsemium, which can cause muscle weakness, paralysis, seizures, and difficulty in breathing.

10. Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)

Cycas Revoluta
Yay Cycas Revoluta

Sago Palm is a dioecious, non-flowering plant with large, compound, dark green, Circinate leaves that are ceremoniously considered palm leaves. They grow in a whorl from the topmost part of the trunk. This plant is native to warm parts of southern China and Japan. It produces nuts but does not produce fruits or flowers. Sago Palm contains cytosine, a fast-acting liver toxin that can cause drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and eventual liver failure. Palm tree alternatives.

11. Lantana (Lantana camara)

Yay Lantana

Lantana is a tropical American weed that blooms pin, yellow, orange, and white flower heads in multiple combinations. It features aromatic, rough, simple, oval-shaped leaves and clusters of poisonous berries. The leaves of the Lantana plant can also cause skin irritation, but the dark blue, almost blackish berries are the most toxic, especially for livestock. Lantana contains triterpene acids latadene A and B, which can impact the liver and gallbladder negatively.

12. Caladium (Caladium x hortulanum)

Yay Caladium

Also known as Elephant Ear and Heart of Jesus, Caladium is a tuberous herbaceous plant with showy, variable-hued leaves that are shaped like a heart or arrow. The Caladium plant is a non-hardy ornamental that can be planted indoors and outdoors. However, all parts of the plant are considered poisonous since it contains calcium oxalate crystals. If ingested, it can cause swelling of the mouth and throat, severe gastric irritation, and excessive salivation. The sap can also cause severe burning and itching.

13. Ortensya (Hydrangea)

Yay Hydrangeas

Ortensya or Hortensya is a shrub with striking clusters of colorful blooms that grow in shades of red, lavender, vibrant pink, clear blue, and frosty white. These rapidly growing shrubs are quite popular across the world despite being poisonous to humans and animals. All parts of the plant contain cyanogenic glycoside, which can cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting when ingested. Skin contact can result in rash, irritation, or dermatitis.

14. Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Virginia creeper
Isasza@Felinou-Cattus Virginia creeper

Virginia Creepers are woody, deciduous, high-climbing vines with coarsely toothed leaves that turn red, purple, and mauve in fall. It features tiny, green flowers that grow in clusters and bluish fruit. Also known as American Ivy, Virginia creeper is often confused with Poison Ivy, but it has five leaflets while its highly toxic counterpart has three leaflets. Its berries can be harmful when ingested, and its leaves, stem, and roots contain raphides, which can irritate your skin.