Plants You Should Avoid In The Great Outdoors

When you’re spending time in the great outdoors, the last thing you want is to come home with an irritating plant-related rash. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to avoid irritating plants when you’re staying in a cabin. However, if you venture out into the woods for a hiking trip or something similar, then things get a little trickier.

Fortunately, there are a lot of helpful websites and guides out there that will tell you exactly which plants not to touch if you don’t want to come home covered in hives. For example, some plants like poison ivy release an oil called urushiol that can cause extremely painful rashes on anyone unfortunate enough to brush against them.

Other plants have thorns or spines that can lead to scrapes and scratches almost as bad as nettles – which are very common and also have spines but aren’t nearly so painful as people often think they are!

Stinging Nettles

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When you think of nettles, you probably think of a harmless plant that you can’t help but get pricked by while walking through a field. The truth is, however, that not all nettles are the same. Many people don’t even realize that there is a stinging nettle variety! Stinging nettles are very similar to the ones that you’re probably familiar with, but they contain a neurotoxin called acetyloxytoxin that is actually 1000 times more potent than a similar compound found in black pepper!

Stinging nettles aren’t very common, but if you come across them then you’re probably in an area with a temperate climate. They can reach up to 6 ft tall and are often found at the edges of forests, on mountainsides and in fields.

Stinging nettles can be identified by their serrated leaves and white flowers. If you come across them and you’re not sure what they are, the best thing to do is to avoid them as much as possible!

Bull Nettle

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Bull nettles are fairly common in forested areas, especially at the edges and near streams. Their main identifying feature is the fact that their leaves are covered in extremely sharp thorns. If you come across them, the best thing to do is avoid them completely.

Unlike stinging nettles, which will only sting you if you touch the leaves, bull nettles are covered in thorns and will pierce you through your clothes if you get too close.

Bull nettle is very toxic, and even if you don’t eat it, you can still get sick. If you come into contact with it, you can react to the poisonous compounds in the plant’s skin. If you have open wounds or sensitive skin, this can be a very serious problem.

Virginia Creeper

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Virginia creeper is a very common tree that is native to several different countries, including North America. In the fall, it is a very beautiful and defining part of the landscape, draping down from the tops of trees with bright red leaves.

However, it’s important to stay away from Virginia creeper at all times of the year, not just during fall! If Virginia creeper comes into contact with your skin or gets into your mouth, you should seek medical attention immediately.

The plant contains several toxic and irritating chemicals such as saponins, urushiol and tannic acid that can cause serious irritation and, in some cases, rashes. If you accidentally eat the leaves, then you can also react to them, so it’s best to avoid them completely.

Poison Ivy On The Trail

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Poison ivy is one of the most common and well-known irritating plants in the world. Although it’s often thought to only grow in wooded areas, it can be found in many different environments. If you happen to come across a patch of poison ivy growing on the side of a trail, then you need to be very careful.

The urushiol oil secreted by the leaves can stick to your clothing and cause allergic reactions in anyone else who touches it – so it’s important to spot it before you walk through a patch, not after.

You can identify poison ivy by the fact that it grows as a vine, usually in shaded and wooded areas. It has a large number of small leaves with three leaves on each stem. It’s very important to be careful when you’re hiking or walking through the woods, especially if you’re with children.

Poison Sumac In The Outdoor Environment

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Although poison sumac is very similar to poison ivy, it’s a different plant altogether. However, it grows in the same environments and is just as common as poison ivy in the USA. It is important to be careful of poison sumac, as it is more toxic than poison ivy! If you come across a patch of poison sumac, you need to be very careful. The urushiol oil from the leaves can stick to your clothing and cause allergic reactions in anyone else who touches it.

You can easily identify poison sumac because it grows as a shrub up to 6 feet tall. It grows in swamps, bogs, and wet environments. Poison sumac is particularly common in eastern areas of the USA.

Giant Hogweed

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Giant hogweed is an extremely large plant that is native to Asia and the Middle East. The problem with giant hogweed is that it has become a very common garden weed in the UK. If you come across a patch of giant hogweed, it’s best to avoid it completely and report it to the local authorities.

Giant hogweed contains phototoxic compounds that cause severe burns, irritation and blisters when exposed to UV light (i.e. sunlight). Although it’s still not known exactly what causes this, it’s thought that it might be due to the presence of furanocoumarin compounds in the plant’s sap.

If you accidentally come into contact with giant hogweed, you need to wash the area immediately and keep it away from sunlight. It’s also a good idea to wear long sleeves and long pants to avoid getting any large pieces of the plant in contact with your skin. Fortunately, giant hogweed is not very common in the United Kingdom, so it’s unlikely that you’ll encounter it.


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Oleander is a very common ornamental plant that is very popular as a garden plant because of its beautiful and vibrant flowers. However, it’s also a very toxic plant that can be found in both gardens and natural environments. If you come across a patch of oleander, it’s best to steer very clear of it. The leaves and flowers of oleander are very toxic and can be fatal if ingested.

The specific plant toxins present in oleander include the cardiac glycoside oleandrin along with several other cardiotoxins. These can cause heart arrhythmias, heart failure and heart attacks. You can identify oleander by the fact that it is a shrub that grows up to 8 feet tall. It’s particularly common in southern parts of the USA and also grows in many other countries.

Japanese Knotweed

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Japanese knotweed is a very common and toxic plant found in many parts of the world, including the UK. If you come into contact with Japanese knotweed, it can cause a very painful rash.

If you come into contact with Japanese knotweed, try to wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. You could also use a fungicidal spray. If you’ve been exposed to a lot of Japanese knotweeds, you could even use an antihistamine.


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Deathbell is another common and poisonous plant found in many parts of the world, including the UK. If you come into contact with a deathbell, it can cause a very painful rash. If you come into contact with a deathbell, try to wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. You could also use a fungicidal spray.

If you’ve been exposed to a lot of deathbell, you could even use an antihistamine. If the plant is ingested, it can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, seizures, paralysis, heart arrhythmia, and even death in extreme cases.


The great outdoors can be a very exciting place to be, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers that lurk out there too. That’s why it’s important to be familiar with the plants found in the environment you’re in, as well as how to avoid them and what to do if you come into contact with them. Thankfully, most of the plants that can cause allergies or rash are pretty easy to avoid by keeping a close eye out for them. So if you’re a fan of spending time outdoors, make sure to keep these plants in mind so you can stay safe and itch-free.

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