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Poisonous plants of southern Africa

Most of the information below is from Munday (1988)

Amaranthaceae (Pigweed family)

Species of Amaranthus are cultivated and the leaves cooked like spinach ('morogo') and they also often occur as weeds. They become poisonous if grown on nutrient rich soils (e.g. on compost heaps and in heavily fertilised soil) because under these conditions they accumulate dangerous levels of oxalates.

Amaryllidaceae (Nerine, Clivia, March Lily, Snowdrop, Dafoddil family)

Many species in the Amaryllidaceae have bulbs that contain toxic alkaloids. Other parts of the plant can also be poisonous. For instance, all parts of Clivia miniata are toxic and the leaves of daffodils and jonquils if eaten can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. See list of important poisonous species

Clivia miniata

Anacardiaceae (Mango, Cashew Nut, Rhus family)

Most of the harmful species in this family affect us through the sap causing a severe allergic reaction to the skin (e.g. shell of Cashew Nuts; sap of Poison Ivy, African Poison Ivy, Smoke Tree, Japanese Wax Tree and Mango). Fruit of pepper trees can be toxic if eaten in quantity. Your kidneys can become inflamed if you eat too many mangoes. See list of important poisonous species.

Apiaceae (Carrot family)


  • Munday, J. 1988. Poisonous Plants in South African Gardens and Parks. A Field Guide. Delta Books, Craighall, Johannesburg.


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