Avoid Touching These Plants

Many of us remember the caveat of most American Boy and Girl Scout, "Leaves of 3 Let Them Be"  as well as most mother's caveat, "If in doubt, leave it out!"  This is not to say that all plants with three leaves are poisonous; however, these caveats are a good rule of thumb intended to provoke a general behavioral response.  Toxicodendron radicans, "Poison Oak", Toxicodendron diversilobum, "Poison Ivy" and Toxicodendron, Poison Sumac" are the top three contact dermatitis producing plants visitors may encounter.  Each produces a highly toxic oil, urishol, which readily binds to skin and clothing, in most cases producing a slightly delayed yet significant immune system response.  Exposure reactions can produce prolonged extreme itching accompanied by a painful blistering rash.  As the toxin is a potent "oil," it often remains on clothing, footwear and equipment, resulting in the potential for additional exposures.  "Avoidance" of the plant is the best line of defense followed by a thorough soap and water removal after a known exposure.  **Visitors who do extensive hiking in some of our more remote trails are encouraged to wear protective clothing and consider separating their "post hiking clothing" for laundry.


Plant Exposure

ThunderCroft is home to plants which employ chemical defenses, some of which can cause serious physical injury or death.  Numerous plants have the ability to produce chemical toxins that have the potential for being ingested or absorbed through the skin's surface through accidental contact or direct interaction.  Exposure reactions can produce mild minor skin or digestive irritation to more intermediate psychotropic impairments as well as severe sudden onset of anaphylactic shock, respiratory and cardiac failure.  Certain physical defenses such as spines, prickles and thorns have the potential for being injurious and can be linked to a plant's more toxic chemical defenses.  

Datura stramonium seed pod, "Jimson Weed" or "Devil's Snare"

Podophyllum peltatum, "Mayapple""

Asclepius spp., "Common Milkweed"

Daucus carota, "Wild Carrot" or "Queen Anne's Lace"

Toxicodendron vernix, "Poison Sumac"

Toxicodendron radicans, "Poison Ivy"

Toxicodendron diversilobum, "Poison Oak"

Noxious and Poisonous Plants

In response to herbivore predation, plants have evolved numerous strategies for protecting themselves.  Since plants are basically non-motile species, these strategies have emerged as either physical barrier defenses or chemical defenses to ward off would be predators.  Visitors to ThunderCroft are encouraged to learn about these various defenses and their impact on humans so as to better prepare themselves for safe excursions on our trail system.   As we are responsible landowners, we urge our visitors to view this page as a dynamic educationally informative database.  For more precise information, we urge you to explore online resources which offer more inclusive information regarding the specific toxins and varying degrees of impact on human health. Where possible, we have included images of numerous species taken here on the various trails of ThunderCroft.

Additional Toxic Plants Visitors May Encounter

The remaining poisonous plants found at ThunderCroft are generally those who have "plant parts" that when ingested can cause a variety of unpleasant physical reactions.  We have posted a few plants that visitors might encounter that fall into this category.  For specific information regarding their individual toxicity, please refer to the link listed below.  Again, if you feel you are currently experiencing an exposure or ingestion, we encourage you to call the Poison Control Center number listed above.


Poisonous Plant of Appalachia Part I--Flowering Plants

Poisonous Plants of Appalachia Part II--Nuts and Seeds

Poisonous Plants of Appalachia Part III--Toxic Edibles