Poisonous Plant Books



Bruneton, J. 1999. Toxic plants dangerous to humans and animals. Lavoisier, Paris. 545pp. 100.00
An important reference book (translated from French), offering complementary coverage to Cooper and Johnson (below), but with wider coverage of plants exotic to Britain. Black and white drawings of selected species.

Cooper, M.R. & Johnson, A.W. 1998. Poisonous Plants and Fungi in Britain: Animal and Human Poisoning. The Stationery Office, London. 398pp. 55.00
The definitive guide to poisonous plants and fungi in the UK. Bold, clear, precise, and very reader-friendly. Contains a brief section on poisonous principles and their physiological effects. Details for individual species or genera can include poisonous principles, human poisoning, animal poisoning, and treatment. The veterinary coverage with an emphasis on farm animals is excellent. Over one hundred species are illustrated by colour plates. A glossary is provided, as well as an extensive bibliography. Available from www.tsoshop.co.uk

Cooper, M.R., Johnson, A.W. & Dauncey, E.A. 2003. Poisonous Plants and Fungi: An Illustrated Guide. TSO, London. 185pp. 14.95
This is a smaller softback book, which summarises the veterinary and medical information supplied in the previous reference, making it more accessible to the lay reader. Despite this simplification, more plants are covered in this work, including those of low or doubtful toxicity as well as those less commonly encountered in the UK. For each plant species information is given on poisonous constituents, their effects and an indication of when professional advice should be sought. Over 110 colour plates are provided, portraying all the main plants and fungi covered in the book. Available from www.tsoshop.co.uk

Dauncey, E.A. (ed). 2000. Poisonous plants and fungi in Britain and Ireland. Interactive identification systems on CD-ROM. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens and Guy's & St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust. 44.95
A CD-ROM (for Windows computers) offering an interactive identification facility for poisonous plants and fungi, and detailed information (comparable to that in Cooper and Johnson) on toxicity and case-reports. Very well illustrated with colour photographs, and covering 229 plant species and 125 fungi, including those that might be eaten by a child but are in fact not toxic. Available at the special price of 15.99 direct from www.kewbooks.com. A separate German-language version is available for Central Europe.

Frohne, D. & Pfander, H.J. 2005. Poisonous Plants: A Handbook for Doctors, Pharmacists, Toxicologists, Biologists and Veterinarians. Second Edition. Manson Publishing Ltd, London. 469 pp. 90
Originally published in Germany, this UK version has been translated by I Alford. This book is primarily aimed at professional scientists and medics. Excellent colour photographs of the plants are provided as well as illustrations of microscopical characteristics for identification purposes. The 2nd edition has been significantly expanded and now includes plants more relevant to North America.

Horticultural Trades Association. 2000. Code of Recommended Retail Practice Relating to the Labelling of Potentially Harmful Plants. HTA, Theale. 13pp.
Available at a cost of 5.00 + P&P from, HTA, Horticulture House, 19 High Street, Theale, Reading, Berks RG7 5AH; tel. 0118 930 3132. T his lists those plants that are considered potentially toxic and commonly available in the UK trade, briefly indicating whether they are considered toxic either by ingestion and/or by skin contact. Single copies of a leaflet listing the plants included in the Code can be obtained from the Librarian, tel. 0118 930 8940, email info@the-hta.org.uk

Lang, D.C. 1987. The Complete Book of British Berries. Threshold Books, London. 223pp. Out of print.
Accessible and clearly written, this is a non-technical guide to poisonous and non-poisonous British berries. It contains numerous colour plates, and describes the fruits, leaves and flowers in detail as well as providing brief information on ecology, distribution, history, uses, toxicology, symptoms and treatment.

Royal Horticultural Society. 1998. Conservation and environment guidelines: potentially harmful garden plants. Wisley: Science Department, RHS.
A useful leaflet, available online.

Specialist (many of these titles may be out of print)

Allison, K., Day, C. 1999. A Guide to Plants Poisonous to Horses. J.A. Allen, 71pp. 4.95
Similar to the book below but with clear black and white line drawings and arranged alphabetically by plant

Davidson, S. 2002. All About Poisonous Plants. Allen Photographic Guides. J.A. Allen, London. 23pp. 4.95
A short book featuring profiles and colour photographs of the species most commonly encountered by horses, giving symptoms and methods of control for pasture plants.

Burrows, G.E. & Tyrl, R.J. 2001. Toxic Plants of North America. Iowa State University Press, Iowa. 1342pp. 125.00
A comprehensive textbook covering toxicants, mechanisms of action, clinical signs, principal aspects of treatment plus plant morphology and distribution.

Cheeke, P.R., 1998. Natural Toxicants in Feeds, Forages and Poisonous Plants. Interstate Publishers Inc, Illinois. 479 pp. 2nd edition
An advanced textbook aimed at animal scientists, veterinarians, and livestock specialists, dealing primarily with the toxins found in animal feed. Introductory chapters are concerned with the classification of toxicants, toxicological techniques and the range of effects of toxins on health. Each toxin group is detailed in terms of its chemical structure, classification, the plant species that are known to contain it, and the pharmacological effects on livestock after ingestion. There is also a special section devoted to mycotoxins.

Crosby, D.G., 2004. The Poisoned Weed: Plants Toxic to Skin. Oxford University Press, New York. 266pp. 25.99
Covers the major allergenic and irritant plants in homes, gardens and fields, this book details the poisonous constituents, hazards, toxicity and treatment options. Written for North American readers but many species can be found in UK too.

Hausen, B. 1981. Woods Injurious to Human Health: A Manual. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin. 189pp.
A specialised book detailing the chemical and medical features associated with wood contact, in particular the problem of contact dermatitis. There are introductory sections on incidence of injury, clinical aspects, immunological aspects, diagnosis of contact sensitivity, botanical identification, and wood chemistry, followed by a systematic review of over 200 problem species encountered in industry.

Lovell, C.R. 1993. Plants and the Skin. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford. 272pp.
This book is primarily aimed towards the medical/paramedical professions who have little or no botanical training. It includes an introduction to the identification of plants, and discusses the risks of skin injury through occupational exposure. It also lists the uses of plants in the cosmetic industry. There are sections on urticaria, plant irritants, phytotoxic reactions and allergic contact dermatitis with details relating to clinical features and patch-testing. Both plants and case-study examples of adverse skin reactions are well illustrated.

Mitchell, J. & Rook, A. 1979. Botanical Dermatology. Greengrass, Vancouver. 787pp.
An encyclopaedic reference book whose authors have amassed a wealth of data on plants affecting the skin. The book contains an alphabetical listing of irritant and allergic plant species from 1405 genera in 248 plant families. Although the information on effects is generally brief, further references are given. An updated version is available on the internet at: http://bodd.cf.ac.uk/

Spoerke, D.G. & Smolinske, S.C. 1990. Toxicity of Houseplants. CRC Press Inc, Florida. 244pp.
The first part of this book discusses major groups of plant toxins, the specific genera that contain them, the potential routes/mechanisms of injury, and possible medical treatment. This is followed by brief, clearly formatted monographs on the most common species of toxic houseplants including information on nomenclature, toxic principles, symptoms, risk assessment and case-studies. Unfortunately, for advice on treatment one must refer back to earlier sections of the book. Although primarily a technical publication, there is much on risk assessment and manifestations of poisoning that will be of value to the lay reader. Plates provided are black and white and often not very clear.

Further information

Requests for information on poisonous plants may be sent (in writing only) to the Sustainable Uses Group, Jodrell Laboratory, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB. Email: ceb-enq@kew.org Fax: 020 8332 3717. Urgent enquiries only can be made by telephone to 020 8332 5000 (office hours, Monday-Friday). The Royal Horticultural Society maintains a comprehensive enquiry service for its members, at The Science Department, The Royal Horticultural Society's Garden, Wisley, Woking, Surrey GU23 6QB. Email: advisory@rhs.org.uk

Updated October 2009, Sustainable Uses Group, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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