Are these dangerous plants or poisonous?

Asked June 6, 2018, 3:14 PM EDT

My son just moved in a house in Ellicott City and he has a two year old, a four month old and 2 acres worth of weeds. He is afraid to put any chemicals down on his lawn as his 2 year old puts everything in his mouth. He also has these strawberry looking plants that someone told him are poisonous. Can you help us identify or recommend a safe way for kids to get of these multiple weeds. His land is basically flat but he really has more weeds than grass. I attached some photos I hope will help but his yard is so over run with all types of weeds and it is hard to get a picture of the entire plants. I have photos of other weeds and a supposedly poison tree but could only send three thru the website.

Howard County Maryland

3 Responses

Your first photo shows Indian mock strawberry. Here is our weed gallery page on that: It is not considered poisonous but they don't really taste good and might give you a stomach upset if you ate enough of them. We also see native violet leaves in the photo- they are actually edible and the spring flowers are beautiful.

Second photo shows English Ivy (which is invasive and should be removed anyway).
Here is our page on that:
It does not show up on toxic plant list from Cornell University here:

We are not sure what the third one is- would need to see it grow more or bloom, but look up and nearby. It may be a tree or shrub seedling.

Poison ivy looks like this and should be avoided: . While there are other plants that fit the bill, generally people can remember "leaves of three, leave it be".

Most plants and insects in our yards are harmless, but the bottom line is children need to be taught "not to eat" or "no touch" or be monitored/supervised until they understand.
Until then, keep the poison control number handy.

If your son's yard is mostly weedy, sunny and he wants grass, a lawn renovation may be in order. With two acres he might not want to tackle the whole thing, but maybe zero in on close to the house. The best time to do this is late summer into fall. This would entail an herbicide kill of what is there now. Label instructions on herbicides state the intervals to keep children and animals out of the area. If you ever have any questions about the pesticides, check our the National Pesticide Information Center online and by phone.

Here is our page on lawns, which includes a link to our publication on renovation:


Thank you so much for your quick response and answers to my questions. Could you help us identify some more

weeds as well? Right now he really can’t afford to hire someone but was looking for a way to control them without harm to his kids. The ivy is everywhere but he has another one too that’s all over the fences. Is it safe to pull any of these weeds out or do you have to wear long sleeves, pants as well as gloves and googles to remove some of this? Is there anywhere in Howard county you can take more pictures or samples to as well. He has two allergy babies was well.
Thanks again for your help.

The first photo is Broad-leaved Plantain. It is harmless. If you get a bee or insect sting, you can break up the leaf (could chew it a couple of times) and then put it on the sting and the pain instantly stops. It is not bad to have around.

The second one resembles poison ivy but it's not quite right. We'd wait to see if it blooms and then send it again. If he wants to remove it, he should wear plastic gloves or a newspaper bag over his hand/arm to pull it and throw it away, just in case.
The third photo looks like a Nandina shrub towards the right, being over grown by some type of Clematis vine. It could be Sweet Autumn Clematis, which blooms in the fall. You usually cut it back hard in spring to keep it under control.

Again, other than Poison Ivy, or thorned brambles/wild berries and roses, you don't have to be worried much about working in the yard as far as plants go. (In brushy areas, use tick protection and long sleeves and pants.)
The use of gloves is often a good idea, not just for protection, but with little kids, you often get interrupted and need somewhat clean hands to respond.

Here is our Weed Gallery page you can look through and compare with what you have:

Also Master Gardeners in Howard regularly have "Ask a Master Gardener Plant Clinics" where you can get help. Take a look here:

Your family might also be interested in the Baywise