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Potato plant poisoning - green tubers and sprouts

Potato plant poisoning occurs when someone eats the green tubers or new sprouts of the potato plant.

This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

The poisonous ingredient is:

  • Solanine (very toxic even in small amounts)

Where Found

The poison is found throughout the plant, but especially in green potatoes and new sprouts. Never eat potatoes that are spoiled or green below the skin. Always throw away the sprouts.

Potatoes that are not green and have had any sprouts removed are safe to eat.

DO NOT touch or eat any plant with which you are not familiar. Wash your hands after working in the garden or walking in the woods.

Symptoms

Effects are mostly gastrointestinal. They are often delayed 8 to 10 hours. Central nervous system effects may occur in large ingestions. These poisonings can be very dangerous.

Symptoms may include:

Home Care

Seek immediate medical help. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care provider.

Before Calling Emergency

Get the following information:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed
  • Name and part of the plant that was swallowed, if known

Poison Control

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does not need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

The provider will measure and monitor person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Breathing support
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
  • Fluids through a vein (IV)
  • Medicines to treat symptoms
  • Laxatives
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well you do depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

Symptoms may last for 1 to 3 days, and hospitalization may be necessary.

Death has been reported, but is rare.

DO NOT touch or eat any plant with which you are not familiar. Wash your hands after working in the garden or walking in the woods.

Alternative Names

Solanum tuberosum poisoning

References

Graeme KA. Toxic plant ingestions. In: Auerbach PS, ed. Wilderness Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 64.

Update Date 11/4/2015

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