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Poisonous Plants in Michigan: Beware of These Deadly Plants!

Whether you’re an experienced camper or just getting started, it’s important to be aware of the different types of plants that you might encounter while camping and hiking in Michigan. Some of these plants can cause serious skin reactions, so it’s important to know what to look for and how to avoid them. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the most common plants to watch out for in Michigan.

7 Most Common Poisonous Plants In Michigan

The following is a list of some of the potentially poisonous plants you could find in the state of Michigan. Keep in mind that the local areas could have other poisonous plants as well.

Poison Ivy

When going on a camping trip or a trek, poison ivy is usually at the top of people’s list of things to watch out for, but not everyone knows how to identify it from other types of vines.

If you have a severe allergic response, even the slightest contact with this plant might cause you to break out in painful itching rashes. It can be spread through direct touch or by objects that have been in contact with the virus, such as clothing, pets, or other people.

Over 80% of people are allergic to the toxin urushiol found in poison ivy. To avoid becoming sick in the woods, you should know how to spot poison ivy. The good news is that poison ivy may be easily recognized. To remember this, just think of the phrase “leaves of three.” Avoid picking it up if it has three leaves.

Poison Oak

In essence, poison oak and poison ivy are the same plants despite their superficial differences. Clusters of three poison oak leaves are more jagged than those of poison ivy.

You may avoid this poisonous plant and others like it by always avoiding anything with three leaves. In the spring, the leaves are green; in the summer, they turn yellow; and in the fall, they turn from yellow to brown.

Poison Sumac

In damp environments, this toxic plant can be found as a deciduous tree or shrub. This relative of poison ivy and poison oak may not be as widespread, but it doesn’t make it any less of a threat. The poison sumac tree is so adept at deception that it is often overlooked because it looks like other, less dangerous species of trees.

One of the plants you should watch out for in Michigan is poison sumac since it has the same chemical that causes severe allergic responses in certain people. Even a casual touch may completely destroy your day, let alone your entire week.

Giant Hogweed

Huge hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum), sometimes called cartwheel-flower, giant cow parsley, giant cow parsnip, and hogsbane, is one of the most harmful plants in the world. Fortunately, giant hogweed is rather rare (only 2% of suspected plants reported are actual giant hogweed) and easily recognizable due to its large size (it may reach heights of 8-12 feet) and telltale appearance (its flower heads like inverted umbrellas).

If it gets in your eyes, you might go blind temporarily or permanently, and it can also induce phytophotodermatitis, an inflammatory reaction that makes your skin very sensitive to UV radiation and causes blistering.

Wash off any sap from gigantic hogweed you may have come into touch with, and see a doctor as soon as possible.

Poisonous Hemlock

Keep a watch out for this plant if you find yourself in southwestern Michigan, particularly the Muskegon region. Touching poison hemlock releases toxins that can cause dizziness, trembling, paralysis, and even death. Dead plants still pose a risk, so always use caution while handling them.

The best defense is an armed mind. Find out how they look, where you can usually find them, and what to do if you accidentally come into touch with one of these plants. Wear long trousers and closed-toe shoes, and bring a first aid kit if you plan on venturing off the main, cleared routes when hiking or camping.


Pokeweed is a relatively young and less well-known toxic plant in Michigan. Although native to the East Coast, these massively deadly plants have recently established a foothold in the Midwest. This plant is not attempting to hide its identity; its gigantic size (height and breadth combined of 6 feet), bright green leaves, and rapid growth rate all give it away.

Gardens, fencerows, and flower pots are just some of the places it thrives. Without early intervention, it can spread rapidly and develop a deep taproot that is very difficult to eradicate. A day or two after cutting it down, fresh growth will appear.

Clusters of small white blooms bloom in the summer, attracting beneficial insects like bees. Flowers bloom in the spring but transform into dark berries that birds go crazy about in the fall. However, when consumed by animals, it can result in dehydration, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, convulsions, and even death. Livestock and curious youngsters are in danger from this shrub.

Wild Parsnip

The blooms of this invasive plant are yellow, and it looks a lot like gigantic hogweed. Grassy, sunny regions, roadsides, and park paths are prime locations for its growth, as the seeds are easily dispersed by mowing.

In the same vein as gigantic hogweed, this plant’s sap can trigger phytophotodermatitis, so maintain your distance!

What are the symptoms of poisoning from a poisonous plant?

When it comes to poisonous plants, there are a few different ways that they can poison someone. The most common way is if the person ingests the plant. This can happen if they eat something that contains the plant or if they eat the plant itself. Other ways that someone can be poisoned by a poisonous plant is if they touch it and then touch their eyes or mouth or if they breathe in the pollen from the plant.

The symptoms of poisoning from a poisonous plant will vary depending on which plant it is and how much of it was ingested. However, some general symptoms to look out for include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and cramping. If you think that you or someone else has been poisoned by a poisonous plant, it is important to seek medical attention immediately, as some types of poisoning can be very serious and even life-threatening.


It is important to be aware of the poisonous plants that can be found in Michigan. By taking the time to learn about these plants, you can help keep yourself and your family safe when spending time outdoors. If you suspect that you or someone you know has been poisoned by a plant, seek medical attention immediately.

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