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17 Wild & Ornamental Trees Poisonous To Dogs

There are a number of trees that are poisonous to dogs and can be fatal if they ingest any part of the tree. Pay attention to the things your dog eats and chews while walking in parks or other wild areas. Consider bringing a ball for your dog to chase rather than tossing a stick.

I have a list of 17 trees that are poisonous to dogs and provide photos and other identifying features. Learn to identify them and do your best to keep your pup clear of them.


Wild and ornamental trees poisonous to dogs

You need to know which trees and plants are poisonous to dogs if you have a garden, plants in your home, or go on hikes with your dog.

A lot of ornamental trees and plants that people buy are poisonous to pets. Take a look at the trees below and make sure you don’t introduce toxins into your dog’s daily walks or romps in the yard.


8 Trees poisonous to dogs in 2 tree families

The first 8 poisonous trees for dogs are in the Rose and Walnut families. Learning plants and trees by their family characteristics is the best way to identify them, although these trees are recognizable by most people.

Rose family

Most species in the rose family can be identified by having 5 sepals, 5 petals, many stamens in multiples of 5, and alternate leaves that are often oval with serrated edges. The leaves and fruit contain Cyanide compounds in some of the species. Well-known examples of species in the rose family and rose sub-family are strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and cinquefoil. The trees below are in the apple and plum genus or sub-families.

Almond / Apple sub-family: Form what are called drupes. A drupe is a fleshy fruit with a stony seed. The fruit tends to have a “seam” down one side and a pit in the center. Some species have edible nuts, where the nuts are found inside the pit. Excessive consumption of the nuts \ pits can lead to cyanide poisoning. Proper cooking, drying, and/or oxidation destroys the cyanide. making the nut edible.

Almond / Plum sub-family: Identifying characteristics are plants with fleshy fruit and a 5-pointed star on the bottom. Note that berries from the Heath family have a similar 5-pointed star. All apple-type fruits are edible though not always appetizing.


The stems, leaves and seeds from Apple trees are poisonous to dogs

1) Domestic Apple Tree, Malus domestica, and Crab Apple, Malus sylvestris, Rose family, Almond \ Apple sub-family.

Identification (crab apple): Grows to about 30 feet high. The leaves are alternate, elliptical with saw-tooth edges, hairy when young, dull green above and paler beneath. The flowers are white, pink or red. Twigs are densely covered with hairs when young. The fruit is approximately 1” in diameter. Crab apples are considered an ornamental tree (plant a different tree).
Location found (crab apple): found in old fields, thickets, fence rows, and borders of forests. They prefer areas with moist soil. Mostly found in the southeastern and central US depending on the species.
Poisonous facts: Stems, leaves and seeds of the fruit are poisonous to dogs


Chokecherry tree

2) Chokecherry, Prunus virginiana, Rose family, Almond \ Apple sub-family.

Identification: Spreading shrub or small tree often forming thickets with white or pink-tinged flowers, hairy stalks, 1-3” long leaves that are saw-tootled and elliptical, dark green and smooth above, densely hairy and pale green beneath with berry-like fruit 1/4-3/8” in diameter that are either red, purple or black.
Location found: Wet to dry thickets, clearings, low woods, swamps, and bogs. Found in southern Canada and Northern US.
Poisonous facts: Stems, leaves and seeds of the fruit are poisonous to dogs and can be fatal.


Apricot trees: the pits of the fruit are highly poisonous to dogs

3) Apricot Tree, Prunus armeniaca. Rose family, Almond \ Plum sub-family.

Identification: Short trunk and grows to 30 feet or so. Elliptical leaves are often doubly saw-toothed, sunken veins on top, often hairy below. Flowers are white to a pinkish color and the fruit is 3/4-1” in diameter.
Location found: Prefers moist soil in valleys or low slopes. Found from New Hampshire to Florida and west to Oklahoma and Montana.
Poisonous facts: Stems, leaves, and seeds are poisonous to dogs and can lead to death.


Twigs and leaves ot the Wild Cherry tree are poisonous to dogs and can result in death

4) Cherry Tree, Prunus serotina (Black Cherry), Rose family, Almond \ Plum sub-family.

Identification: Can grow to 80 feet high with small white flowers and black or purple cherries. Leaves are elliptical and finely saw-toothed, shiny dark above, light green and hairy along midvein beneath.
Location found: Eastern half of the US. Cherry trees can grow almost anywhere except in very wet or very dry soil.
Poisonous facts: Stems, leaves, and seeds are poisonous to dogs, ingestion can cause death.


Peach tree

5) Peach Tree, Prunus persica, Rose family, Almond \ Plum sub-family.

Identification: Small tree growing up to 30 feet with pink blossoms. Leaves are lance-shaped, finely saw-toothed, shiny green above and paler below.
Location found: Mostly found in the Southeast US along roadsides and fence rows.
Poisonous facts: All parts of the tree are poisonous and can result in death.


Plum tree

6) Plum Tree, Prunus americana, spp, Rose family, Almond \ Plum sub-family.

Identification: Grows up to 30 feet high with large white flowers, elliptical leaves that are sharply and often doubly saw-toothed. The leaves are dull green with slightly sunken veins above, paler and often slightly hairy on veins beneath.
Location found: Prefers moist soils of valleys and low upland slopes. Found from New Hampshire to Florida and as far west and north and Oklahoma and Montana.
Poisonous facts: All parts of the tree are poisonous and can result in death.


Walnut family

Walnut family species are generally resinous, aromatic trees with alternate pinnately divided leaves. Glandular dots beneath the leaves is a major identifying characteristic. Male flowers are in catkins with 3-6 sepals, 0 petals and 3-40 stamens (sometimes 100). Female flowers have 4 sepals and 0 petals. The ovary of the flower matures to a single hard-shelled nut enclosed in a husk.


Black Walnut tree

7) Black Walnut Tree, Juglans nigra, Walnut family. Also known as the Eastern Black Walnut and American Walnut.

Identification: Grows 70-90 feet high with pinnately compound leaves 12-24” long. There are 9-21 leaflets 2.5-5” long which are lance-shaped, finely saw-toothed, stalkless, and hairless above with soft hairs beneath. The flowers are small and green with 20-30 stamens.
Location found: Found in moist soils, especially along streams or scattered in mixed forests. They grow in the Eastern half of the US except the northern border with Canada.
Poisonous facts: Moldy nuts and husks can cause tremors and seizures, and chewing the wood is poisonous as well. It can be deadly.


Hickory tree

8) Hickory Trees, Carya spp. Walnut family.

Identification: Hickory trees have pinnately compound leaves and large nuts found in a four-valved husk and with small yellow-green flowers in catkins.
Location found: Some species are found in dry and moist soils often in hardwood forests, others are found in wet and moist soils of floodplains and valleys. They are spread throughout the Eastern half of the US
Poisonous facts: Hickory nuts are not highly poisonous to dogs resulting in diarrhea and vomiting but are not deadly.


9 trees poisonous to dogs in different families

Here are trees poisonous to dogs but are in different families, so identification must be done individually. I sorted the trees by Order > Family > Species.

Winterberry tree

1) Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, Aquifoliales order, Holly family. Also called black alder, Canada holly, English holly, European holly, American holly, coralberry, fever bush, and Michigan holly.

Identification: Winterberry is technically a shrub. It is one of the deciduous Hollies which loses its leaves in the fall. They tend to form thickets if growing in wet soil. Their leaves are elliptical and serrated, the flowers are white and the fruit is found as clusters of red drupes.
Location found: SE Canada, Eastern US west to Ontario and Minnesota and south to Alabama. Prefers wetland habitats but can also be found in dry sand dunes and grassland.
Poisonous facts: The berries and leaves are poisonous but not fatal.


Burning Bush tree

2) Burning Bush Tree, Euonymus alatus, Celastrales order, Bittersweet family. Also called winged spindle and winged euonymus.

Identification: Another ornamental shrub often planted in parks and gardens but that has become an invasive species in many parts of the US. It grows to 20 feet high, has elliptical leaves with a long point and is finely saw-toothed. They have maroon or green flowers and red fruit enclosed by a pink, yellow or orange capsule.
Location found: Found throughout the US, tend to grow in thickets, and preferd moist soils and forest edges.
Poisonous facts: All parts of the shrub are poisonous and may cause death.


Golden Chain tree

3) Golden Chain Tree, Laburnum alpinum & anagyroides, Fagales order, Legume \ Pea family.

Identification: They have trifoliate leaves with leaflets 1-2 inches long, densely-packed yellow flowers in racemes that are 4-8 inches long. The highly poisonous fruit develops in pods.
Location found: This is an ornamental tree planted in private gardens and parks.
Poisonous facts: All parts of the plant are poisonous and may cause death.


Oak tree

4) Oak Trees, Quercus spp., Fagales order, Beech family.

Identification: Identifying most oak trees is easy – look for acorns or the classic lobed leaves. Only maples are more recognizable. Although, there are a number of southern oaks whose leaves are not lobed, so be aware of that if you live in the southern states. There are about 600 species of oak trees with 90 species in the US alone.
Location found: Found throughout the eastern and southern US and can grow in many different habitats.
Poisonous facts: The acorns are poisonous and can result in death if eaten.



5) Oleander Tree, Nerium oleander, Gentianales order, Dogbane family.

Identification: Oleander is a poisonous ornamental shrub that can grow to 18 feet high but is usually much smaller. Flowers of the Oleander shrub are white, pink or red and have 5 sepals, 5 petals, and 5 stamens. Their leaves are dark green, narrowly lance-shaped and in whorls of three. The fruit is a follicle that contains downy seeds.
Location found: Found in southern states of the US and prefers wet soil, especially around stream beds. It is an ornamental shrub planted in home gardens, parks and along highways on median strips.
Poisonous facts: All parts of the shrub are poisonous and can result in death if ingested.


The berries of Yew trees are very poisonous to dogs

6) Yew Tree, Taxus spp., Pinales order, Yew family.

Identification: Trees in the Yew family have conifer like needles with red or green berry-like fruit, and are slightly aromatic and resinous. The needles are alternate and arranged in 2 flat rows.
Location found: There are 3 species in North America: Pacific Yew found in the Pacific Northwest, Canadian yew found in central and eastern North America, and Florida Yew found in a small area of Florida.
Poisonous facts: All parts of the trees/shrub are poisonous but not fatal unless a large amount is eaten.


Ficus tree

7) Ficus Tree, Ficus benjamina, Rosales order, Mulberry family. Also called weeping fig and benjamin fig.

Identification: The bark is smooth and light gray and they can grow up to 100 feet high in the wild, though the common indoor versions are kept small by pruning.
Location found: Found in your home – this is a common indoor plant that is small enough for a home. Consider getting a different plant. They only grow in warm climates so you will not find them in outdoor gardens in the north.
Poisonous facts: All parts of the tree are poisonous but not fatal.


Chinaberry tree

8) Chinaberry Tree, Melia azedarach, Sapindales order, Mahagony family. Also called Pride of India, bead-tree, Cape lilac, syringa berrytree, Persian lilac, and Indian lilac.

Identification: Grows up to 40 feet high though can grow much higher in perfect conditions. The leaflets are dark green long and elliptical with serrated edges and the flowers have white sepals and purple petals and they produce a yellow fruit
Location found: Found in warm climates on the edges of forests, streams and in fields and prairies and tends to grow in thickets in forests and marshes. It are found in the warmer southern states of the US.
Poisonous facts: All parts are poisonous but the most toxic is the fruit which can cause death.


The nuts of the Horse Chestnut tree are poisonous to dogs and people

9) Horse Chestnut Tree, Aesculus hippocastanum, Sapindales order, Soapberry family. Also called the Conker tree.

Identification: Grows to 70 feet high with opposite, palmately compound leaves with 7 ovate to elliptical leaflets. The “horse” in MAD Horse stands for Horse Chestnut, where “MAD horse” stands for the only trees that have leaves and branches that grow opposite. Maple, Ash & Dogwoods are the other trees in the MAD acronym. The flowers are about 1” long and white with red and yellow spots at the base of the flower.
Location found: They prefer rich and moist soil and are planted across America and have escaped into the wild in the Northeast.
Poisonous facts: The entire tree is poisonous, but the nuts are large and round so dogs are tempted to chew on them. Death is rare but can occur. Don’t throw nuts for your dog to chase and chew. Throw a ball instead.


Final Thoughts

Focus on the poisonous trees that are in your area, learn how to identify them and keep an eye on your dog. Better yet, feed your dog before going to the park or for a hike through the woods and bring a ball or frisbee for him to chase.

Take a look at my article on Wild Plants Toxic to Dogs, as well as the page Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants List from the ASPCA website.  Also, take a look at these links about inducing your dog to vomit if you think they ingested a poisonous substance:

How to Make a Dog Throw Up from the American Kennel Club.
Inducing Vomiting in Your Dog from Pet Health Network.

Jim Kernicky

I have been a dog walker and pet sitter for my business Fairmount Pet Service in the Art Museum area of Philadelphia since 2008.