Sep 06 2016

15 Poisonous Plants

15 Poisonous Plants

#15 … Anthurium (an-thur-ee-um) — With dark green heart-shaped leathery leaves the plant produces a spike that’s surrounded by a spaeth (like bathe) usually pink, red, or white.  This picture from oglesbytc.com shows the flower’s unique that hides its toxicity.  Effects of eating tropical Anthuriums could include a hoarsening of the voice, and difficulty swallowing.  That, along with burning sensations in the mouth that result in blistering will fade given time.  Cool liquids, herbs and foods like flaxseed can help.

#14 … Wisteria (wis-terr-ee-uh) — these plants grow in the South and Southwestern United States, and produce cascades of white pink and blue masses that grow out of woody vines.  But this entire plant known also as a kidney bean tree is toxic.  Consequences of eating this plant can cause cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.  


#13 … Foxglove — Known for its drooping pink, purple or white flowers, the Foxglove plant can grow to 3 feet tall (0.914 m).  Did you know this plant serves as a commercial source for digitalis, the heart drug.  Ironically, eating these plants in the wild could result in heart troubles … that’s after gastrointestinal problems like vomiting.  A doctor’s care might be needed to lower your heart rate back to normal.


#12 … Lily-of-the Valley — Also known as Mayflowers, the flowers of these plants are completely poisonous … even the water they’re set in would be dangerous for consumption.  Effects include pain in the mouth, and abdominal discomfort.  Additional effects can include a slow or irregular heartbeat.  In that event, you’ll need a doctor to pump your stomach and administer drugs to normalize your heart rate.


#11 … Hydrangea (hi-dran-gee-uh) — Growing to 15 feet tall this plant produces huge clusters of flowers that turn deep blue, rose, or greenish-white in color.  Because of that, Hydrangea is a popular yard ornament.  But those pretty, poofy blooms can result in a nasty stomach ache in addition to weakness, sweating and itchy skin.  More severe effects include convulsions, coma, and the body’s blood circulation breaking down.   So you know, there is an antidote for Hydrangea poisoning … but if you avoid eating plant, you won’t need it.  Simple logic


#10 … White Snakeroot —  This is a herb native to North America with clusters of small flowers that contain a toxin called Tremetol (trem-ih-tull).  This photo by Homer Edward Price makes it look innocent enough … but you could be poisoned by White Snakeroot by consuming meat or milk from livestock that have grazed on the plant.  The animals pass the poison on to human consumers.  In the 19th century thousands of people died from ingesting Tremetol in such a manner, including Abraham Lincoln’s mother.  Nausea, reddened tongue, high blood acidity and death are effects of ‘milk sickness’.  Farmers now make efforts to ensure the plant is removed from animal pastures.


#9 … European Yew — Almost all of the parts of this tree are poisonous.  However, the red aril (errol), or sheath that surrounds the toxic seeds is edible, and is often eaten by birds.  The leaves and seeds of the European Yew carry a poison called taxanes (tax-eens), which can produce symptoms like muscle spasms, labored breathing and a fast heart rate.  But this plant’s poison often takes effect without producing any symptoms at all.  Death can occur within only a few hours of ingesting the seeds or leaves.

#8 … Dolls Eye — It’s kind of like having stems full of eyes looking back at you, as you can see in this picture by benet2006.  If you think that’s creepy, how about this:   The white berries of the plant — also called White Baneberry  — contain cardiogenic toxins that cause symptoms like burning of the throat and mouth, dizziness and hallucination … eventually leading to cardiac arrest and death.

#7 … Stinging Tree — The deadliest stinging nettle in the world, this plant is found in forests from Australia to Indonesia.  If you even brush against any part of this plant, you can receive a potent toxin that produces a painful sting that could last from days to months.  Hopefully this guy didn’t get too close, as seen in Brian Cassey’s photo.  While a serious sting from this plant will produce a severe allergic reaction in animals like dogs and horses, there’s not much evidence that it has ever killed humans.


#6 … Strychnine (strick-nine) Tree — This picture from zidbits.com shows this medium sized tree that is native to Southeast Asia and India, and is also known as poison nut or Quaker Button.  The tree bears a greenish-orange fruit that has seeds packed with the poisonous alkaloids Strychnine and Brucine.  1 ounce (30ml) of these toxins can cause violent convulsions leading to a painful death.  


#5 … Angel’s Trumpets — Named for their distinctive, trumpet-like shape, these pendulous flowers grow in a variety of colors, including white, pink, orange and yellow, measuring over 19 inches long (50cm).  You can see a good example of this in the picture from portlandnursery.com.  But all parts of this plant contain high levels of scopolamine (sko-pole-ah-meen) and atropine (at-tro-peen), which can cause paralysis of the heart.  Interesting to note that Angel’s Trumpets have been turned into a tea and used as a recreational hallucinogen.  However, toxicity levels can vary from plant to plant, even from part to part.  That makes it difficult to know the exact levels of toxins ingested.  Users have been known to overdose and die from this practice.


#4 … Wolfsbane — This photo from the Independent.co.uk shows off its this plant’s purple passion.  It’s long been known for its toxic qualities, having been used to poison the tips of arrowheads for hunting and warfare.  Wolfsbane carries Aconitum (o-con-on-nim) neurotoxins and cardiotoxins.  Accidental ingestion can produce symptoms including motor weakness and heart and lung paralysis.  In folklore Wolfsbane was used to repel werewolves … but in certain parts of Europe it was also used to ward off vampires … Must’ve sucked for those vampires


#3 … The Manchineel (MAN-kun-eel) Tree — Also called the Tree of Death (Arbol de Muerte), it’s found from southern Florida to the Caribbean and Central and South America.  It’s known for producing a toxic white sap, or latex that produces a violent allergic reaction on the skin, if you so much as brush against it.  And if you get caught in a rainstorm and happen to wander under this tree, the runoff sap will make your skin blister!  It also produces a poisonous green fruit called the “Little Apple of Death” (Manzanita de la Muerte).  Eating that will result in abdominal pain, bleeding and digestive tract damage.  Basically the entire tree is lethal.  No wonder Guinness  gave it the title of “World’s Most Dangerous Tree” in 2011.  Not even Charlie Brown’s infamous kite-eating tree was this mean!


#2 … Deadly Nightshade  — This plant is also well-known as Belladonna. They’re are found in wooded areas of central and southern Eurasia, producing green leaves and shiny black berries that resemble cherries.  The berries are so sweet that children, along with unwitting adults will eat the lethal plant. Like Angel’s Trumpets, Nightshade contains atropine (at-tro-peen) and scopolamine (sko-pole-ah-meen). 10 to 20 berries is enough to kill an adult.  But it only takes one leaf to kill a grown man because the plant’s poisons are most concentrated in the leaves.   Even simple physical contact with Nightshade could produce skin irritations.  Did you know that tomatoes, eggplants and potatoes are all members of the Nightshade family?


#1 … Castor Oil Plant —  Well, any plant that holds the current title of World’s Most Poisonous Plant from Guinness earns the number one spot.  You can find the Castor Oil plant in homes and gardens around the globe.  A highly toxic chemical called ricin (rih-sin) is found throughout the plant but is especially concentrated in the seeds. 4 to 8 beans would be a lethal dose for an adult human.  If ingested, symptoms include intense abdominal pain, burning sensations in the mouth and throat, vomiting and bloody diarrhea, all within the first 36 hours.  If left untreated, death can occur within 3 to 5 days.  DId you know that castor oil is actually made from castor beans?  Luckily, only the taste is toxic.