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Springtime Poison Concerns

We made it through winter! Soon plants will be starting to bloom, mushrooms will pop up, the grass will need to be mowed, and trees will be getting their leaves. What a great season! Believe it or not, snakes will also be waking up soon. Here are some quick tips about springtime.


With all of the colorful blooming plants to explore outside, a child may want to give one of them a taste. Most often, children do not swallow enough to cause serious symptoms, however, if someone has ingested part of a plant, play it safe and call the Missouri Poison Center for help. You may try to identify the plant online, but it is best to immediately call our specially trained nurses and pharmacists for advice. Our experts might ask you to text us a picture so we can help identify the plant and we will determine the next steps to help you quickly take care of the problem. Time is important and the sooner we have an identification, the quicker we can recommend the best care.

Here are some of the most popular plants blooming throughout the spring season:


Daffodils are one of the first flowers to pop up and bloom. They can be white or yellow, sometimes with an orange center – brightly colored so they attract young children. If swallowed, it can cause nausea and vomiting. Sometimes, the bulbs are mistaken as onions. They can cause a burning sensation of the mouth and lips and can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea if eaten in a large enough quantity.


Tulips are beautiful flowers that come in almost any color of the rainbow. They have bulbs that can cause skin irritation. Gardeners sometimes complain of “tulip fingers” that leads to tender, red fingertips. They are nontoxic if eaten.


Irises are well known from the famous Van Gogh painting, but many Missourians plant these in spring gardens for their deep purple-blue color. Similar to the daffodil bulbs, these can cause burning in the mouth and an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhea if ingested in a significant amount.


The pansy is a springtime flower that has soft petals ranging from yellow, blue, purple, or other colors. The flowers and leaves are reported to be edible, so symptoms are not expected after an ingestion.


Wild mushroom hunting, or foraging, is a popular hobby, but mushroom identification is tricky. Toxic and nontoxic mushrooms can grow side by side, and many mushrooms that can make you sick look just like edible mushrooms. At the Missouri Poison Center, we trust only trained mycologists (expert mushroom scientists) for accurate identification. It is true, there are many resources available to those who forage mushrooms, but our best advice is to NEVER pick and eat wild mushrooms unless they’ve been identified by an expert. The best prevention against mushroom poisonings is to assume that all wild mushrooms are poisonous.

Kid’s sometimes do their own foraging as they explore the outdoors, and they are definitely not trained mycologists! Children should be taught never to touch or eat wild mushrooms. Check for mushroom growth in your yard before letting children out to play. If your child eats a mushroom outside, often we can keep them home and monitor for symptoms, but play it safe and always call us for immediate advice.


It won’t be long before the snakes come out of their nests as the weather warms up. Most of the snakes found in Missouri are harmless, and are actually very good for the environment, but there are five species which are venomous. The copperhead is the most common venomous snake in Missouri followed by the cottonmouth, and three different rattlesnakes. Missouri Poison Center has a brochure about spiders, snakes and stinging insects. It can be viewed and ordered through the Order Materials page.

The Missouri Department of Conservation recently published a great summary of Missouri snakes. It includes interesting facts and pictures – check it out here.

If you suspect you have a snakebite it is IMPORTANT to call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222, every case needs individual attention. Follow these first aid tips for a venomous snake bite!

  • Remain calm.
  • Do not try to capture the snake.
  • Note time of the bite and remove all tight clothing or jewelry which may delay or hide swelling.
  • Call the poison center immediately at 1-800-222-1222 for instructions on all snake bites.
  • Wash the bite area with soap and water.
  • Immobilize the limb or body part at or slightly above heart level.
  • DO NOT use ice or a tourniquet.
  • DO NOT cut over the fang marks and try to suck out the venom.
  • Transport the patient to the closest hospital.

If you have questions about spring plants, mushrooms, or snakes, call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222. Specially trained nurses and pharmacists are available 24/7/365. The service is free and confidential.

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