Safety / Survival / Army Field Manuals / AFM 3-05.70

Chapter 10

Poisonous Plants


10-1. Plants generally poison by—

  • Contact. This contact with a poisonous plant causes any type of skin irritation or dermatitis.

  • Ingestion. This occurs when a person eats a part of a poisonous plant.

  • Absorption or inhalation. This happens when a person either absorbs the poison through the skin or inhales it into the respiratory system.

10-2. Plant poisoning ranges from minor irritation to death. A common question asked is, "How poisonous is this plant?" It is difficult to say how poisonous plants are because—

  • Some plants require a large amount of contact before you notice any adverse reaction although others will cause death with only a small amount.

  • Every plant will vary in the amount of toxins it contains due to different growing conditions and slight variations in subspecies.

  • Every person has a different level of resistance to toxic substances.

  • Some persons may be more sensitive to a particular plant.

10-3. Some common misconceptions about poisonous plants are—

  • Watch the animals and eat what they eat. Most of the time this statement is true, but some animals can eat plants that are poisonous to humans.

  • Boil the plant in water and any poisons will be removed. Boiling removes many poisons, but not all.

  • Plants with a red color are poisonous. Some plants that are red are poisonous, but not all.

10-4. The point is there is no one rule to aid in identifying poisonous plants. You must make an effort to learn as much about them as possible.

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All text and images from the U.S. Army Field Manual 3-05.70: Survival.
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