Plants and flowers that are known to be toxic to pigs

Pigs shouldn't eat a lot of things, but if they get access, they might consume one of the plants listed elow. Make sure to check the area where your pigs are to make sure none of these plants can be consumed by your pig. I've heard it said by others that pigs won't consume poison, but I haven't found that to be the case. If permitted, pigs will just be pigs and consume whatever.

In order to determine whether your pig has been exposed to or ingested a "toxic" amount of any of these plants or flowers, it is important to consider their size, age, and amount consumed. If the flower or plant is on the list and you are certain that your pig has consumed some, note the quantity, timing, and kind before contacting the ASPCA or Pet Poison Helpline to learn about possible reversal medications or treatments.

Each individual animal may react differently from others, as some may react negatively to any plant while others may consume large quantities of it without experiencing any negative effects. These are the plants that are listed on the infamous Toxic to Potbelly Pigs graphic. Even though some of the plants on the list are not at all dangerous, we nonetheless mentioned them because we needed them as a reference. Some of the plants listed belong to the same group as other members of their species and were grouped with them. It takes time to conduct the research necessary to put together a new list of substances that are specifically dangerous to pigs, but we are trying to do so.

Scientific Name

Datura Stramonium L. - Named by Carl Linnaeus as published in Species Plantarum (1753). The genus was derived from ancient hindu word for plant, dhatura. The species name is from New Latin, stramonium, meaning thornapple. Stramonium is originally from from Greek, strychnos (nightshade) and manikos (mad).

Common Names of Plants in Datura spp:

  • Jimsonweed
  • Jamestown weed
  • Thorn Apple
  • Downy Thornapple
  • Devil's Trumpet
  • Angel's Trumpet
  • Mad Apple
  • Stink Weed
  • Tolguacha

Jimsonweed Description

Jimsonweed is an annual herb which grows up to 5 feet tall. It has a pale geen stem with spreading branches. Leaves are ovate with green or purplish coloration , coarsely serrated along edges, and 3 to 8 inches long. Flowers are white or purple with a 5-pointed corolla up to four inches long and set on short stalks in the axils of branches. Seeds are contained in a hard, spiny capsule, about 2 inches in diameter, which splits lenghtwise into four parts when ripe.

Jimsonweed Distribution

Jimsonweed is a cosmopolitan weed of worldwide distribution. It is found in most of the continental US from New England to Texas, Florida to the far western states. Jimsonweed is found in most southern Canadian Provinces as well. It gows in cultivated fields being a major weed in soybeans worldwide. Jimsonweed is common on overgrazed pastures, barnyards, and waste land preferring rich soils.

Control of Jimsonweed

Because of Jimsonweed's toxic properties, the custom of destroying the plant should be practiced on every farm. Animals should not be allowed to graze on sparse pasture inhabited by Jimsonweed. Hay and silage should not be made from fields until all Jimsonweed has been removed. Soybean and other grain fields infested with Jimsonweed can be controlled by a variety of broadleaf herbicides.
Note that herbicides should be applied as directed by a qualified applicator.

Jimsonweed Toxicity

All parts of Jimsonweed are poisonous. Leaves and seeds are the usual source of poisoning, but are rarely eaten do to its strong odor and unpleasant taste. Poisoning can occur when hungry animals are on sparse pasture with Jimsonweed infestation. Most animal poisoning results from feed contamination. Jimsonweed can be harvested with hay or silage, and subsequently poisoning occurs upon feeding the forage. Seeds can contaminate grains and is the most common poisoning which occurs in chickens.

Poisoning is more common in humans than in animals. Children can be attracted by flowers and consume Jimsonweed accidentally. In small quantities, Jimsonweed can have medicinal or haulucinagenic properties, but poisoning readily occurs because of misuse. Ingestion of Jimsonweed caused the mass poisoning of soldiers in Jamestown, Virginia in 1676.
Jimsonweed toxicity is caused by tropane alkaloids. The total alkaloid content in the plant can be as high as 0.7%. The toxic chemicals are atropine, hyoscine (also called scopolamine), and hyoscyamine.

Clinical Signs of Jimsonweed Poisoning

Jimsonweed poisoning occurs in most domesticated production animals: Cattle, goats, horses, sheep, swine, and poultry.
Human poisoning occurs more frequently than livestock poisoning making jimsonweed unusual among most poisonous plants. 

Early Signs:

  • rapid pulse
  • restlessness 
  • polydipsia 
  • depression
  • rapid breathing 
  • nervousness 
  • dilated pupils
  • muscular twitching
  • frequent urination
  • diarrhea
  • anorexia 
  • weight loss

Fatal Cases:

  • weak pulse 
  • irregular breathing
  • lower body temperature 
  • coma
  • retained urine 
  • convulsions

Jimsonweed - Jamestown Story

Captain John Smith, founder of Jamestown

In 1676, British soldiers were sent to stop the Rebellion of Bacon. Jamestown weed (Jimsonweed) was boiled for inclusion in a salad, which the soldiers readily ate. The hallucinogenic properties of jimsonweed took affect.

As told by Robert Beverly in The History and Present State of Virginia (1705): The soldiers presented "a very pleasant comedy, for they turned natural fools upon it for several days: one would blow up a feather in the air; another would dart straws at it with much fury; and another, stark naked, was sitting up in a corner like a monkey, grinning and making mows at them; a fourth would fondly kiss and paw his companions, and sneer in their faces with a countenance more antic than any in a Dutch droll.

"In this frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, in their folly, destroy themselves - though it was observed that all their actions were full of innocence and good nature. Indeed they were not very cleanly; for they would have wallowed in their own excrements, if they had not been prevented. A thousand such simple tricks they played, and after 11 days returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed."

Giant Hogweed
Extremely Toxic

This plant causes extreme sunburn and can cause blindness, in some cases. If the toxic sap gets into your eyes, can cause you not to be able to see. The blisters on the skin can last up to 6 years according to Va tech. Birds carry the seeds and drop them in different areas of the country. It’s a threat in many states across the US, and is definitely growing in NY, VA, MD, NH, OH, OR, WA, MI, VT, PA and ME.

The toxic ingredient is known as photosensitizing furanocoumarins. The light sensitize skin reaction causes dark painful blisters that can form within 48 hours and can last anywhere from a few months to 6 YEARS. Touching giant hogweed can also cause long term sunlight sensitivity and blindness if the sap gets into the eyes. This is the case even if you simply brush up against the bristles of this toxic plant. The Department of Health recommends that you wash it off with cold water immediately and get out of the sun. A toxic reaction can begin as soon as 15 minutes after contact. Apply sunscreen to the affected areas since this can prevent further reactions if you're stuck outside. 

Compresses soaked in an aluminum acetate mixture - available at pharmacies - can provide relief for skin irritations. If hogweed sap gets into the eye, rinse them with water immediately and put on sunglasses.

If you live near giant hogweed you can mow or weed-whack the plant before you touch it to prevent future exposure, right? Think again. That will just send up new growth and potentially expose you to toxic sap. Call a professional or local authorities who can properly destroy the plant and its seeds.


Rhododendron is a genus of a shrub with about 800 species worldwide. Its ovate evergreen or deciduous leaves are alternate, 1/2 - 8 inches in length depending on variety, with smooth untoothed margins. They are dark green with a glossy upper surface and a dull underside. Large trusses of bell-shaped flowers bloom from spring to early summer. Plants are available with flowers in colors such as white, purple, deep rose, red, yellow, and orange. Rhododendron and its closely related azalea have been hybridized for many uses in gardens and rarely reach above 3-5 feet tall in northern states including Illinois.

In Illinois, most species found are ornamental types that usually thrive in protected areas of gardens. But these plants can be found nationwide in the USA.

Tall, wild varieties can reach over 35 feet high, and are found throughout the coastal mountain ranges from New York to Georgia. Designated as West Virginia's state flower, rhododendrons are particularly abundant in the Great Smoky and the Blue Ridge mountains. Species in the Pacific northwest from northern California to British Columbia vary in heights.

Conditions of poisoning
All parts of the plant, but especially the foliage, contain the poison, and two or three leaves may produce severe toxicosis. Sucking flowers free of nectar may produce serious illness. Rhododendrons are more likely to retain green leaves year round than are most other plants, and therefore most toxicoses occur in the winter and early spring, when other forage is unavailable.

Toxic principle
All parts of this plant contain toxic resins (andromedotoxins, now commonly referred to as grayanotoxin) with the leaves being the most potent. Grayanotoxin produces gastrointestinal irritation with some hemorrhage, secondary aspiration pneumonia, and sometimes renal tubular damage and mild liver degeneration.

Clinical signs
Clinical signs usually appear within 6 hours of ingestion. Affected animals may experience anorexia, depression, acute digestive upset, hypersalivation, nasal discharge, epiphora, projectile vomiting, frequent defecation, and repeated attempts to swallow. There also may be weakness, incoordination, paralysis of the limbs, stupor, and depression. Aspiration of vomitus is common in ruminants and results in dyspnea and often death. Pupillary reflexes may be absent. Coma precedes death. Animals may remain sick for more than 2 days and gradually recover.