Dangerous Plants to Avoid in Ohio

Summer is officially here and many of us can’t wait to hit the trails biking, hiking, and camping. There’s just something about being outdoors that lifts our spirits and moods. But lurking just off those well-manicured bike trails and hiking paths are dangerous plants that can ruin your day if you don’t know what you are looking at.

Poison IvyPoison ivy is a common nuissance and one of the poisonous plants to avoid in Massillon, OH.

Here in Ohio poison ivy is the most common type of dangerous plant. It can grow almost anywhere; along creeks, paths, forests, and in your backyard. Just lightly brushing up against this plant or getting it second hand by touching clothes or pets that have come into contact with it causes over 80% of the population to break out in a painful and itchy rash. The substance that causes the rash is called urushiol and it coats every part of the plant.

Poison ivy grows as a vine or shrub with bright green clusters of three leaves. This is why the phrase “leaves of three, let it be” became a popular warning to gardeners and hikers.

Poison Oak

Poison oak also produces clusters of three bright green leaves that contain urushiol. The only visible difference between these two plants is that poison oak leaves are lobed and look like leaves of an oak tree. The leaves can appear green in the spring, yellow in the summer, and yellow to brown in the fall.

Poison Sumac

Poison sumac grows as a deciduous shrub or small tree. It grows in swamps and other wet areas. Poison sumac is worse than both poison ivy and poison oak in terms of the allergic reaction it can cause.

Poison sumac can be identified by:

  • reddish stems
  • leaves of 7–13 leaflets arranged in pairs with one leaf at the end.
  • orange leaves in spring and red-orange in the fall
  • white berries in the fall

Poison sumac differs from poison ivy and oak in that it grows as a tree. However, they contain the same allergy-causing chemical, urushiol. This can be hard to spot as it looks similar to other harmless sumacs.

Poison ivy, oak, and sumac can cause very bad reactions but aren’t actually poisonous, however, the following berries are in fact very toxic if ingested.

PokeweedPokeweed is one of the most poisonous plants to avoid here in Cleveland, OH.

Pokeweed is a large poisonous plant that grows on the east coast and has found a new home in the midwest and yes, that means it could be growing right in your backyard. It grows in areas with disturbed soil like untended gardens, fencerows, and roadsides. Pokeweed isn’t a subtle plant; It can grow to be 10 feet tall with long wide leaves. It produces attractive dark berry clusters in the fall that are a favorite to songbirds but if eaten by a mammal it can cause:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Convulsions

The leaves and stems are also poisonous to livestock so, if you spot this weed in your pasture, remove it quickly.


Chokecherry trees grow throughout North America and if you have a lot of property then you probably have one. The berries are harmless if eaten, but the seeds contain a toxic chemical glycoside which our body can break down in small doses. Eating more than a handful can cause vomiting, increased blood pressure, stomach cramps, increased heart rate, and blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and kidney failure. While the seeds can pass harmlessly through our bodies if accidentally eaten, livestock have been known to succumb from chokecherries.

Cleveland’s Lawn Care Experts

Are weeds taking over your yard? Does your grass look weak and unappealing? Do you need help with lawn maintenance? Call the experts at Rankin Lawn Care. Our lawn technicians will come out and eliminate any weeds you may have.

Call (330) 935-2900 or request more info on our website.