The N.C. State Cooperative Extension Service has 607 entries in its online Poisonous Plants database. The offenders fill nearly every category of plants, from trees and shrubs to wildflowers and vines. Some are native, and some have escaped into the environment from cultivated specimens.

Many can be dangerous -- even fatal -- to both humans and animals.

"Plants are chemical factories," said Christopher Glenn, the education director at J.C. Raulston Arboretum at N.C. State University. "They cannot move away from prey or physically fight back, so their only defense is to be poisonous."

We've pulled together a short list of some of the most dangerous poisonous native and invasive plants in the state. Be on the lookout as you and your pets spend time outside this summer. The photos are courtesy of J.C. Raulston Arboretum at NC State University.

For more info on poisonous plants, visit plants.ces.ncsu.edu. If you think you've come in contact with a poisonous plant, call N.C.'s Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Baneberry

Where you'll find it: Baneberry is found in rich woods and thickets in the western and north central parts of North Carolina.

Why it's dangerous: The entire plant, especially the roots and berries, contains an essential oil that can cause gastroenteritis and diarrhea.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it is likely to cause death in humans and may cause death in livestock and pets.

Belladonna

Where you'll find it: Belladonna is found throughout the state.

Why it's dangerous: The entire plant, especially its black berries, cause fever, rapid pulse and dilated pupils.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it is likely to cause death in humans and may cause death in livestock and pets.

Bittersweet

Where you'll find it: Bittersweet is commonly found in barnyards, hog lots and cultivated fields throughout the state.

Why it's dangerous: All parts, especially the berries, contain alkaloids that cause headaches, shock and vomiting.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it is likely to cause death in humans and may cause death in livestock and pets.

Black Cherry

Where you'll find it: Black Cherry is found in woods, along fence rows and on the edges of fields throughout the state.

Why it's dangerous: The leaves, seeds, twigs and bark contain hydrocyanic acid that can cause death within one hour.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it is likely to cause death in humans and livestock and pets.

Black Locust

Where you'll find it: Black Locust is found in dry woods, fields and roadsides in much of the state, but not commonly in coastal areas.

Why it's dangerous: The inner bark, root sprouts or wilted leaves contain a phytotoxin that affects heart action.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it may cause death in humans and livestock and pets.

Black Snakeroot

Where you'll find it: Black Snakeroot is found in open boggy areas on the coast and in the eastern part of the state, and on slopes and mountains.

Why it's dangerous: The leaves, stems, flowers and seeds contain an alkaloid that affects breathing and digestion.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it may cause death in humans and is likely to cause death in livestock and pets. It can also cause coma.

Buckeye

Where you'll find it: Buckeye is found on creek or river banks, in woods and pastures across the state.

Why it's dangerous: Spring leaves and fall seeds contain aesculin and other glucosides that affect breathing, muscles and heart.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it is likely to cause death in humans, livestock and pets.

Caladium

Where you'll find it: There are thousands of varieties of Caladium, also called Elephant's Ear, found throughout North Carolina.

Why it's dangerous: Eating the Caladium leaves will result in needle-like crystals becoming embedded in the mouth and throat.

How it will hurt you: If ingested by humans, Caladium can cause burning and swelling of lips, mouth and tongue, as well as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Contact with cell sap can cause skin irritation. Ingestion by livestock or pets may cause death.

Caper Spurge

Where you'll find it: Caper Spurge (sometimes called a "mole plant") may be found as a weed throughout the state.

Why it's dangerous: All parts of the Caper Spurge emit a milky sap when broken. Ingestion of the sap causes severe irritation of the mouth, throat and stomach.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it is likely to cause death in people and may cause death in livestock and pets.

Castor Bean

Where you'll find it: Castor Bean is cultivated as an ornamental, but has escaped into various habitats.

Why it's dangerous: The leaves and seeds contain ricin, alkaloids and other substances that cause convulsions and liver and kidney damage.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it is likely to cause death in humans. It may be fatal to livestock and pets, but isn't commonly available to them.

Chinaberry

Where you'll find it: Chinaberry is found in old fields, pastures, farms, thickets and woods, except in western areas of the state.

Why it's dangerous: The fruit, flowers, leaves and bark contain a neurotoxin that attacks the central nervous system.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it may cause death to humans. It may be fatal to livestock and pets, but isn't commonly available to them.

Dumbcane

Where you'll find it: Dumbcane is cultivated as an ornamental.

Why it's dangerous: Eating the leaves will result in needle-like crystals becoming embedded in the mouth and throat.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it may cause death to humans. It may be fatal to livestock and pets, but isn't commonly available to them.

Elderberry

Where you'll find it: Elderberry is found in moist woods and fields.

Why it's dangerous: The roots, stems and leaves contain alkaloid and glucoside that cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Cooked berries and wine made from fruit and flowers are not poisonous.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it may cause death in humans, as well as livestock and pets.

False Hellebore

Where you'll find it: False Hellebore is found in wet wooded areas in western parts of the state.

Why it's dangerous: Roots, leaves and seeds contain several alkaloids that affect heart, lungs and digestive systems.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it may cause death in humans. In pets and livestock, it can cause certain disorders and irritations.

February Daphne

Where you'll find it: February Daphne is cultivated as an ornamental shrub.

Why it's dangerous: All parts, especially the red berries, contain toxins that cause burning throat, internal bleeding and vomiting.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it will likely cause death in humans. It may cause death in livestock and pets, but isn't commonly available to them.

Japanese Yew

Where you'll find it: Japanese Yew is cultivated as an ornamental shrub.

Why it's dangerous: Most parts, including the seeds, contain taxine, which causes cardiovascular paralysis.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it will likely cause death in humans. It may cause death in livestock and pets, but isn't commonly available to them.

Jequirty Bean

Where you'll find it: Although Jequirty Bean is not grown in our state, the seeds are used in souvenir necklaces.

Why it's dangerous: Eating the seeds can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea and circulatory system failure.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it will likely cause death in humans. It may cause death in livestock and pets, but isn't commonly available to them.

Jimsonweed

Where you'll find it: Jimsonweed is found in barnyards, hog lots, cultivated fields and waste places throughout the state.

Why it's dangerous: All parts of the plant, including the seeds, contain alkaloids that affect the nervous system, causing convulsions and coma.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it is likely to cause death in humans, livestock and pets.

Lantana

Where you'll find it: Lantana is an ornamental that has escaped into various habitats in southeastern North Carolina.

Why it's dangerous: Eating the fruit, especially green, can cause extreme stomach/intestinal pain and circulatory system failure.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it will likely cause death in humans. It may cause death in livestock and pets, but isn't commonly available to them.

Lily-of-the-Valley

Where you'll find it: Lily-of-the-Valley is found in woods and slopes of high mountains, and is also cultivated as an ornamental.

Why it's dangerous: The leaves and flowers contain glucosides, convallarin and convallamarin, which cause irregular heartbeat and vomiting.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it may cause death in humans. In pets and livestock, it can cause certain disorders and irritations.

Mistletoe

Where you'll find it: Mistletoe, a parasitic plant in deciduous trees, is found in forests or natural areas throughout the state. It is commonly used as a traditional decoration during the Christmas holiday season.

Why it's dangerous: The berries of the plant contain amine, which can cause stomach and intestinal irritation with diarrhea, lowered blood pressure and slow pulse.

How it will hurt you: If the white berries are ingested in large quantities, it may cause death in humans, livestock and pets.

Monkshood

Where you'll find it: Monkshood is found in rich woods and slopes in the mountains and, rarely, in the Piedmont.

Why it's dangerous: All parts, especially the roots and seeds, contain alkaloids that cause respiratory paralysis and spasms.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it may cause death in humans. In pets and livestock, it can cause certain disorders and irritations.

Moonseed

Where you'll find it: Moonseed is found in moist woods and thickets scattered throughout the state.

Why it's dangerous: Roots and fruit contain bitter alkaloids that cause paralysis and convulsions when eaten in quantity.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it may cause death in humans. It may be fatal in livestock and animals, but isn't commonly available to them.

Mushrooms

Where you'll find it: Mushrooms grow in warm, moist areas throughout the state.

Why it's dangerous: Identification of edible vs. inedible mushrooms is complicated and should only be attempted by experts. All parts of a poisonous mushroom can cause extreme abdominal pain, vomiting and coma.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, a poisonous mushroom will likely cause death in humans and may cause death in livestock and pets.

Oleander

Where you'll find it: Oleander is cultivated as an ornamental, but has escaped into the environment along the coast.

Why it's dangerous: The leaves contain glucosides, nerioside and oleandroside, which cause nausea, unconsciousness and heart failure.

How it will hurt you: If ingested it will likely cause death in humans, and may cause death in livestock and pets.

Poison Hemlock

Where you'll find it: Poison hemlock is found in moist soil throughout the state but is relatively uncommon.

Why it's dangerous: The leaves and fruit contain an alkaloid that causes vomiting, paralysis and convulsions.

How it will hurt you: If ingested it will likely cause death in humans, and may cause death in livestock and pets.

Poison Ivy

Where you'll find it: Poison Ivy is most commonly found in wooded areas and fields throughout the state.

Why it's dangerous: Contact with plant sap causes different reactions, depending on the person. Inhaling smoke from burning the plant causes serious lung inflammation.

How it will hurt you: Contact (or inhalation) can cause disorders or irritations in people, livestock and pets.

Poison Oak

Where you'll find it: Poison Oak is found in woods, thickets, dry areas and sandy fields in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont of North Carolina.

Why it's dangerous: Contact with all parts of the plant, in all seasons, can cause reactions, which vary depending on the person.

How it will hurt you: Contact can cause severe skin redness, itching, swelling and blisters following direct or indirect contact for people and animals.

Poison Sumac

Where you'll find it: Poison sumac is commonly found in bogs, pocosins and ditches in the eastern part of the state.

Why it's dangerous: Contact with plants will cause different reactions depending on the individual. Inhaling the smoke of the burning plant causes serious lung inflammation.

How it will hurt you: Contact (or inhalation) can cause disorders or irritations in people, livestock and pets.

Pokeweed

Where you'll find it: Pokeweed grows in rich low grounds, waste places, hog pens and barn lots throughout the state.

Why it's dangerous: The roots, shoots, leaves and berries contain a mixture of compounds that cause burning in the mouth, vomiting and convulsions.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, pokeweed is likely to cause death in humans, livestock and pets.

Rhododendron

Where you'll find it: Rhododendron is found in moist or wet woods and streams in the mountains and in the upper Piedmont.

Why it's dangerous: Leaves, twigs and nectar contain a resinoid that causes watering mouth and nose, and paralysis.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, rhododendron is likely to be fatal to livestock and pets. It can cause disorders and irritations in humans.

Spotted Water Hemlock

Where you'll find it: Spotted Water Hemlock is found throughout the state in places where the soil is wet or moist.

Why it's dangerous: There is an alkaloid, found mostly in the roots, that causes trembling, muscular paralysis and respiratory failure.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it is likely to cause death in humans, livestock and pets.

Tobacco

Where you'll find it: Tobacco is cultivated as a cash crop, but has escaped into various habitats.

Why it's dangerous: Eating the leaves can cause severe vomiting and respiratory failure.

How it will hurt you: In humans, ingesting tobacco leaves can cause certain disorders or irritations. It may be fatal to livestock or pets, but they do not commonly come in contact with the plant.

Yellow Jessamine

Where you'll find it: Yellow Jessamine is found in wet or dry woods trailing on the ground, and climbing in bushes and trees in the Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont.

Why it's dangerous: The flowers, leaves and roots contain cumulative poisons that cause paralysis.

How it will hurt you: If ingested, it is likely to cause death in humans, livestock and pets.

Sources: JC Raulston Arboretum at NC State University; Carolinas Poison Center; "Poisonous Plants of North Carolina" by James W. Hardin; Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants; Manual of Vascular Flora of the Carolinas.