How do I know whether a plant is safe or toxic?

How do I know whether a plant is safe or toxic?

I’ve long been frustrated that there are so many lists out there of safe and toxic plants, but nearly all of them don’t cite ANY references. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. On top of that, many of them disagree with each other and offer black-and-white answers when it is sometimes more nuanced.


The good news is I found several sites that collectively form the largest and most thoroughly researched list of safe and toxic plants in these categories:

  • Table Food
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Houseplants
  • Flowers
  • Grass
  • Wood
  • Herbs
  • Nuts
  • Sprouted food
  • Weeds

The vast majority of the credit goes to this site which covers over 1,000 plants and cites over 50 sources:

For wood (perches), the credit goes to these two sites:

To make it easier to find different types of plants from different sites, I put all their information into one giant table that can be easily searched and sorted.

I’ve created a separate page for the table so that it can easily be referred to:

Ultimate list of 1,400+ bird-safe and toxic plants


Yellow Rock Online – Cockatiel Nutrition, Health, Wellbeing & First Aid

  1. UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine: Pets and Toxic Plants
  2. Cornell University: Plants Poisonous to Livestock and other Animals
  3. University of Illinois: Plants Toxic to Animals
  4. The Humane Society: Plants Potentially Poisonous to Pets
  5. The ASPCA: Toxic and Nontoxic Plants for Animals
  6. VCA Hospitals: Plants That are Safe for Birds
  7. Wiley Online Library: Plants not Reported to be Toxic
  8. Colorado State University: Guide to Poisonous Plants
  9. Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation: The palatability, and potential toxicity of Australian weeds to goats
  10. Wikipedia
  11. Mike Owen (cites research) – The Apple Seed Cyanide Myth
  12. Profitable & Sustainable Primary Industries – Prussic acid poisoning in livestock
  13. Profitable & Sustainable Primary Industries – Garden plants poisonous to people
  14. University of Leeds – Amygdalin content of seeds, kernels and food products
  15. Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service – Prussic Acid Poisoning Forage Facts
  16. Food Chemistry – Total cyanide determination of plants and foods using the picrate and acid hydrolysis methods
  17. Julia F Morton (cites research) – Fruits of Warm Climates
  18. Nordic Co-operation – Cucurbitacins in plant food
  19. USDA Agricultural Research Service – Poisonous Plant Research
  20. Lafeber Company – Foods Toxic to Pet Birds
  21. NutritionData – Serachable food database
  22. Medical News Today – The health benefits of bok choy
  23. Nutrition And – Okra nutrition facts
  24. Botanical-online – Medicinal plants searchable database
  25. Passionflow – Passiflora toxicity
  26. Parrot Talk – St John’s Wort and the use of Hypericin
  27. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry – Artemisia dracunculus L. (Tarragon): A Critical Review of Its Traditional Use, Chemical Composition, Pharmacology, and Safety
  28. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements – Valerian
  29. International Journal of Food, Nutrition and Dietetics – Nutritional and Medicinal Properties of Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis) Herb: A Review
  30. Edible Wild Food – Creeping Charlie
  31. European Medicines Agency – Assessment report on Levisticum officinale Koch, radix
  32. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine – Organic parasite control for poultry and rabbits in British Columbia, Canada
  33. National Library of Medicine – Polyphenol extracts from Punica granatum and Terminalia chebula are anti-inflammatory and increase the survival rate of chickens challenged with Escherichia coli
  34. Birds Online – Plant database
  35. BioMed Research International – Underestimating the Toxicological Challenges Associated with the Use of Herbal Medicinal Products in Developing Countries
  36. New South Wales, Department of Primary Industries – St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  37. Myfitnesspal – Searchable database
  38. WebMD, Vitamins & Supplements Center – Searchable database
  39. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects – Evaluation of the Nutritional and Metabolic Effects of Aloe vera
  40. PoultryDVM – Ashwagandha
  41. National Library of Medicine – Chronic toxicity evaluation of Morinda citrifolia fruit and leaf in mice
  42. Food and Agricultural Immunology – Effects of short-term consumption of Morinda citrifolia (Noni) fruit juice on mice intestine, liver and kidney immune modulation
  43. Oxford Clinical Kidney Journal – Star fruit: simultaneous neurotoxic and nephrotoxic effects in people with previously normal renal function
  44. Journal of Food Science Chemistry – Reduction of phytic acid in major cereals, legumes, oilseeds and nuts
  45. (official site of the US Government) – Food safety by type of food
  46. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society – Control and removal of aflatoxin
  47. New St. John’s – What are aflatoxins?
  48. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information – Prevalence of Salmonella in Cashews, Hazelnuts, Macadamia Nuts, Pecans, Pine Nuts, and Walnuts in the United States
  49. New St. John’s – What is salmonella?
  50. Agronomy Group, Institute of Natural Resources, New Zealand – Pasture Plant Identification
  51. Pastures Australia – Comprehensive plant list
  52. Handbook of Toxicologic Pathology – Trisetum flavescens
  53. DSM Dutch State Mines (DSM) – Vitamin D

The Wood Database—Wood Allergies and Toxicity

  1. Unknown author – Woods Toxic to Man (out of print book)
  2. British Journal of Dermatology – Toxic Woods
  3. Internation Labor Organization – Encyclopedia of Occupational Health and Safety
  4. American Medical Association – Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants
  5. Micromedex – Poisondex
  6. Roy Banner – List of woods and toxicity characteristics
  7. Health and Safety Executive, UK – Toxic Woods Information Sheet
  8. Bruce Campbell – Wood/Dust Toxicity
  9. Neil Ellis – Health Hazards & Wood
  10. John Mitchell and Arthur Rook – Botanical Dermatology
  11. Bill Pentz – Medical Risks
  12. Woodturners Society of Queensland, Inc – Timbers & Health
  13. USDA Forest Products LaboratoryTropical Timbers of the World
  14. USDA Forest Products LaboratoryProperties of Imported Tropical Woods
  15. Michael Sims and Erica Skadsen, Wood Hazards

Mario D Vaden—Bird perches, toys. Safe and harmful perch wood

  1. Gillian Willis – pharmacist and toxicologist
  2. Mario D Vaden – Certified Arborist
  3. James A Duke – Handbook of Energy Crops
  4. Wikipedia
  5. John Mitchell and Arthur Rook – Botanical Dermatology
  6. VCA Hospitals: Plants That are Safe for Birds
  7. Avian Medicine – Clinical Avian Medicine and Surgery