Common Non-Edible Plants

by Green Deane

Not Edible

While some 93% of plants are not edible this page was created to show some of the more common non- edible plants I am asked about often or have been sent to me to identify. They are listed  in botanical alphabetical order. Visit the Green Deane Forum to help get plants identified.

NOT EDIBLE: Argemone mexicana, the Mexican Poppy, can be yellow or white. Used extensively in herbal applications but not edible. Locally a very limited season, usually winter.
NOT EDIBLE. The Harlequin Glorybower, Clerodendrum Trichotomum, has a very showy calyx. A native of Asia, Clerodendrum means fate tree, referencing questionable medical uses, and trichotomum which means three trunks, which it apparently has often.
NOT EDIBLE: Crotalaria spectabilis, the rattlebox because of the sound the seeds make in a dry pod. Quite toxic for man and beast. The entire genus is toxic, from little rabbitbells to the rattleboxes.
NOT EDIBLE. Cynanchum laeve is also called the Honeyvine. I receive a lot of emails from folks who want to know if this is edible milkweed vine. It is not. The sap can irritate and damage eyes and mucus membranes and if consumed can stop your heart. To read about the edible milk vine, click here.
NOT EDIBLE. Fatoua villosa, the mulberry weed, an import on nursery plants, was first noticed in Louisiana in 1964. It is controlled by mulching. It can cause mild itching. Also called the Hairy Crabweed.
Not Edible: Earth Smoke, or Ground Smoke, Fumaria officinalis. The native of Europe found in most of North America has many medicinal uses beyond the scope of this site. The flowers yield a yellow dye good for coloring wool.
NOT EDIBLE. Often confused with either a Commelina or a Tradescantia is the Gibasis geniculata, also called the Tahitian Bridal Veil though it is a native of Central America. To read about the Tradescantias click here.
NOT EDIBLE: There are many toxic plants and one that causes nearly instant blisters even blindness is Giant Hog Weed, Heracleum mantegazzianum.Highly invasive it can produce 20,000 seeds per plant. Furocoumarins in the sap can cause a skin reaction called phyto-photodermatitis. This causes the skin to be very sensitive to ultraviolet light. It caues swelling and blistering and can lead to permanent scarring. Contact with the eyes can cause temporary or permanent blindness
NOT EDIBLE: Ligustrum lucidum, the Waxy or Glossy Privet. While there are not human trials to support this  In vitro studies have shown that the fruits of Ligustrum lucidum have antitumor, immunostimulatory, antioxidative, antiviral, antimutagenic, hepatoprotective, and antidiabetic  properties.
NOT EDIBLE. Lupinus diffusus, endangered, also called Oak Ridge Lupine, Spreading Lupine, or Skyblue Lupine, grows in dry areas.
NOT EDIBLE: Wavyleaf Basket Grass, or Oplismenus hirtellus ssp. undulatifolius. This is a a common ground cover locally usually found in shady areas. Originally from Asia it is found throughout the south. Folks are always wondering what it is. Now you know.
NOT EDIBLE: Phoradendron serotinum, Mistletoe. While Mistletoe has been used in some herbal medications it is generally considered toxic. 
NOT EDIBLE: Ricinus communis, the Castor Bean, is not a bean but it is one of the deadliest plant escaped from cultivation. While there are many species with palmate leaves it has eight radiating leaflets with small teeth. the Castor Bean grows soft-spine fruits with mottled seeds from which the source of the poison ricin. One milligram of ricin can kill and adult. If death has not occurred in 3-5 days, the victim usually recovers. 2354195-ricinus-communis-leaf
NOT EDIBLE: Salvia cocinnea, the Scarlet Sage. It has several whorls of red flowers that form an interrupted flower spike on a square stem. It’s a showy southern native that has a sage-like aroma and is found in the hot sands of the South. Even a small amount of the blossomed consumed can make you quite ill. The blossom is red for a reason. Leave it alone.
NOT EDIBLE. Butterweed, Senecio glabellus, can from a distance resemble wild mustard or wild radish. On close inspection it does not look like them. The blossoms are not a yellow cross and the leaves are not sandpappery. It is also laced with pyrrolizidine which is an alkoloid that can damage your liver. To read more click here.
NOT EDIBLE: Solanum viarum, Solanum ciliatum, Solanum carolinense, all called Tropical Soda Apple or Horse Nettle, the first two turn red when ripe, the latter yellow. They usually start out with mottle green fruit. Some are toxic when green, others more toxic when ripe. Edibility is doubtful, botantical references vague, identification difficult. Best avoided. Of the three ripe S. ciliatum, now called Solanum capsicoides, might not kill you.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Dean July 25, 2017 at 16:53

Hi Deane, the Giant Hog Weed looks a lot like Queen Anne’s Lace. How similar do they look?


Dave July 29, 2017 at 19:17

Queen Anne’s Lace (wild carrot) is about 2-3′ high with small delicate leaves, while Giant Hog Weed is +4-6′ high with massive wide leaves. They are not similar at all.


Peter July 20, 2017 at 10:33

Where can I get a copy of the WWII study on using cattails to feed the army?


Marty June 22, 2017 at 13:57

I’m doing a web search for a Botany course, and would like to know where , in Central Florida,I suppose, you are based. Love this site!


Green Deane June 23, 2017 at 10:57

I don’t know of any botany courses in the are outside college majors. I hold classes in identifying wild edibles, not exactly botany.


paul June 16, 2017 at 23:55

I have a question about a weed, it grows in southern Alberta here and but i need an email to sen you a photo. If i could send it, i’m trying to decide if i want to tea this weed and it’s root

Thank you


Green Deane June 17, 2017 at 18:05

You can send it to


Amy Norton April 30, 2017 at 22:32

Hi. My husband and I have been mushroom foragers for some time as we have easy access to two exceptionally easy to identify and delicious varieties. That led to stumbling upon others and then learning to identify those. For the last couple of years, we have been branching out into greenery and berries. We go slowly and always I.T.E.M.ize. You are my favorite youtuber, and I would love to see more videos if you find the time and initiative to produce any. I hope to attend a class with you one day and meet you in person. Thank you for all that you do. 🙂


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