There are many plants that look beautiful and are completely harmless, but you should be very careful what you touch or eat. In fact, some plants can harbor some of the deadliest poisons known. From world’s most poisonous flowers to plants that cause paralysis, make sure to avoid these 25 Most Dangerous Plants That Could Seriously Hurt You.
Notable for its distinctive small green or white flowers arranged in an umbrella shape, the Water Hemlock is the most violently toxic plant in North America. Only a small amount of the toxic substance in this plant is needed to produce poisoning in livestock or in humans. The toxin cicutoxin, acting directly on the central nervous system, causes violent convulsions.
Known by many other common names such as crab’s eye, cock’s eye, coral bead, or country licorice, the Rosary Pea is a slender woody vine that bears attractive clusters of pink, purple, or white flowers. Weedy and invasive, the plant is best known for its seeds, which are used as beads and in percussion instruments, and which are toxic because of the presence of abrin. Ingestion of just one chewed seed can be fatal to humans.
Found in most tropical and subtropical areas of the world, the Oleander (also known as Nerium) is an evergreen shrub or small tree prized by home gardeners for its showy, funnel-shaped blooms. Oleanders are fast-growing and easy to care for, which makes them an appealing landscape plant. However, all parts of this plant are highly toxic.
Native to wooded or waste areas in central and southern Eurasia, the Deadly Nightshade is a plant with dull green leaves and shiny black berries about the size of cherries. The plant contains atropine and scopolamine in its stems, leaves, berries, and roots, and causes paralysis in the involuntary muscles of the body, including the heart. Even physical contact with the leaves may cause skin irritation.
The national flower of Nepal, the Rhododendron was originally native only to Asia, but it has been introduced to most parts of the world now. It is a woody plant in the heath family noted for attractive large clustered flowers. However, all parts of the plant contain toxins variously called andromedotoxin, grayanotoxin, rhodotoxin, and acetylandromedol, which makes it a very dangerous plant, especially for animals.
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Native to eastern and central North America, the White Snakeroot is a poisonous herb of the aster family. Found in woods and thickets, the plant contains a toxic alcohol (tremetol), which can cause muscular tremors, weakness, constipation and even death in both animals and humans. The White Snakeroot was responsible for the death of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, the mother of Abraham Lincoln.
Found in tropical southern North America and northern South America, the Manchineel is one of the most poisonous plants to humans. Its milky sap contains the powerful irritant phorbol, and smoke from a burning Manchineel can temporarily blind a person. However, it is the round fruit resembling apples that is the most dangerous and toxic part of the plant. No wonder its common Spanish name “manzanilla de la muerte“ means “little apple of death.”
Once native only to Asia but now also common in Europe and North America, the Giant Hogweed is a highly toxic plant in the family Apiaceae. Its sap is very dangerous as just a few drops in the eye can result in complete blindness, while on the skin, it causes an extensive blistering of the skin. The chemical responsible for these effects is called Furocoumarin.
A popular plant with home gardeners, the Autumn Crocus has beautiful purple petals but it contains hazardous levels of colchicine, a toxic chemical whose effects are similar to arsenic poisoning. Even in mild cases the autumn crocus induces vomiting, diarrhea, and a burning sensation in the mouth and throat. In severe cases, this unassuming flower can cause liver and kidney failure, heart attacks, and even death.
With a name like that, it is little surprise that this plant is probably responsible for more deaths than any other plant. The Suicide Tree is one of the most poisonous plants in India, where it can be found in coastal salt swamps and marshy areas. In the Indian state of Kerala alone, it is thought to cause around 50 deaths a year. Despite the name, however, this plant’s toxins work equally well for murder as the flavor can be easily hidden in a bowl of spicy food.
Lily of the Valley
Distributed throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe, and North America, the Lily of the Valley is a sweetly scented plant known for its attractive foliage and flowers. It can be easily grown in moist, fertile, organically rich, well-drained soils, but all parts of this plant are very poisonous as they contain chemicals that can cause severe heart problems.
Native to the tropics but now commonly grown in many other parts of the world too, the Castor Bean (or Ricinus) is a species of perennial flowering plant in the spurge family. All parts of the plant are highly toxic, but most dangerous are the seeds which contain an extremely powerful plant toxin called ricin. According to the Guinness World Record, the Castor Bean is actually the most poisonous plant in the world.
Commonly found in rainforests in north-eastern Australia, the Moluccas, and Indonesia, the Gympie Gympie is arguably the most painful plant. This innocently-looking nestle is covered with hollow, hair-like, stinging needles that contain a powerful neurotoxin that causes excruciating pain. The extreme itching is so painful that it has been known to kill dogs, horses, and drive humans mad with agony.
Also known as the monk’s hood or wolfsbane, the Aconite is a plant with deep purplish-blue to violet flowers. Native to moist pastures and mountainous areas of Europe and Asia, the plant is extremely poisonous (especially the root and seeds). The drug aconite is made from the leaves and roots of this species and was once prescribed as a cardiac and respiratory sedative.
Native to South America, particularly the Andes, where it grows on sloping terrain, the Brugmansia is a large evergreen shrub growing up to 6 m (20 ft) tall. All parts of the plant including its notable large fragrant flowers are highly poisonous if ingested or absorbed through the mucous membranes. Yet, natives in Brazil smoke the leaves for a strong narcotic effect that is said to relieve asthma.
Botanically known as Nicotiana Tabacum, the Tobacco is a stout herbaceous plant in the nightshade family that originated in the tropical Americas and is now cultivated worldwide as the primary commercial source of tobacco. All parts of the plant, especially its leaves, contain the toxic alkaloids nicotine and anabasine, which makes it highly poisonous.
Native to the New World Tropics from Mexico and the West Indies south to Argentina, the Dieffenbachia is a genus of tropical flowering plants in the family Araceae. The plant is commonly grown indoor, but its beautiful leaves are poisonous. It is believed that one bite paralyzes your voice, two paralyzes you, while three are supposed to be fatal.
Also called the common yew or European yew, the English Yew is an ornamental evergreen tree or shrub of the yew family, widely distributed throughout Europe and Asia as far east as the Himalayas. All parts of the plant are toxic to humans with the exception of the yew berries (however, their seeds are toxic). Additionally, the plant releases toxic pollen, which can cause headaches, lethargy, aching joints, itching, and skin rashes.
Well known since ancient times, both medicinally and botanically, the Daffodil (or Narcissus) is a genus of predominantly spring perennial plants in the Amaryllis family. All species of this plant contain the alkaloid poison lycorine, mostly in the bulb but also in the leaves. The toxic effects of ingesting Daffodil products have long been recognized, and they have even been used in suicide attempts.
Native to eastern North America, the Doll’s Eye is a flowering plant best known for its fruit – small white berries that resemble a doll’s eyes. The berries contain cardiogenic toxins that can have an immediate sedative effect on cardiac muscle tissue. Symptoms of poisoning include burning of mouth and throat, salivation, severe stomach cramps, headache, diarrhea, dizziness, and hallucinations. Ingestion of the berries can eventually lead to cardiac arrest and death.
Botanically known as Delphinium, the Larkspur is a genus of about 300 species of perennial flowering plants found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Easy to grown in the garden, the plant produces spikes of nice colorful flowers, but it is highly toxic as it has several alkaloids including delphinine, delphineidine, ajacine and others that can cause serious health issues and possibly also death.
Found in most of Europe, the Scotch Broom is a perennial leguminous shrub that is known to depress the respiration and regulate heart action. The plant contains toxic alkaloids which can affect your heartbeat – potentially depressing the heart and nervous system – and is considered especially harmful to children, pregnant women, and people with heart conditions.
Also known as digitalis and dead man’s bells, the foxgloves are decorative biennial plants priced for their vivid colorful flowers, but having them in the garden can be very dangerous. The sheer range of potential symptoms in people who ingest this plant is shocking – including but not limited to nausea, convulsions, delirium and, in severe cases, arrhythmic heartbeat, tremors, seizures, and even death.
Botanically known as Datura Stramonium, the Jimson Weed is a plant in the nightshade family. It bears white flowers and prickly seed pods that split open when ripe, usually in fall. A powerful hallucinogen, the plant contain dangerous levels of the tropane alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine, which are classified as deliriants. The risk of fatal overdose is high among uninformed users.
Also known as the golden chain or common laburnum, the Golden Rain is a large European shrub up to 7 m (23 ft) tall, famous for its golden yellow, sweet scented flowers. All parts of this plant are poisonous, but it is the seeds that pose the biggest threat as they can be easily mistaken by children for peapods. There have been several poisoning deaths in British children over the past few decades.
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