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August 07, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

PETERSON FIELD GUIDE TO VENOMOUS ANIMALS AND POISONOUS PLANTS by Steven Foster & Roger A. Caras (Houghton Mifflin: $15.95; 244 pp., illustrated, paperback original). Foster and Caras list arthropods that sting (bees, scorpions), reptiles that bite (10 species of rattlesnake live in California) and more 250 species of plants can irritate the skin or cause sickness and death if ingested. The deathcap mushroom ( Amanita phalloides ) contains some of the most lethal toxins known, but such common plants as rhubarb (leaves) and castor bean (seeds) can also be deadly. Written to "help keep you out of trouble with nature, whether in a remote wilderness or around the house," this guide can prevent accidents on an outing--or provide a reason to stay home with the doors and windows locked.

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