Our world is full of greenery. From huge alpine trees to tiny shrubs the variety available in the plant kingdom is just uncountable. These plants as we all know are very important for our survival as they are the only oxygen producers on the planet. They not only provide us with oxygen but also keep the atmosphere cool and help in receiving precipitation. Another very important thing that we obtain from plants is medicament. Numerous drugs have been extracted from various plants all over the world which are used successfully to treat different type of ailments. When on one hand they are so vital for our sustenance; on the other hand some of the plants are quite fatal to us. A particular part of the plant like its seeds, flowers, fruits etc or at times the entire plant can be poisonous. These fatal chemicals when ingested have numerous side effects in humans and can also lead to death in just a few hours. There are plants so deadly that their mere scent can give you headaches. Every year many people die due to accidental consumption of plant toxins. If this was not enough there are plants that eat insects and rodents. Yes the plant kingdom even has numerous carnivorous species. Although they pose no threat to human beings they sure are deadly for other life forms. The list of deadly plants is quite long but following are the few potent ones. Some of these grow freely in house gardens so be careful when you see any one of these the next time.
10. White snake-root
White snake-root is a very poisonous plant found largely in North America. It is highly adaptive and grows in a wide variety of environment from shady regions to open grounds. This plant has been harassing the human race since almost 200 years. The toxic principle of this plant is tremotol. This plant grows wildly and therefore very commonly was eaten by the cattle. Such is the toxicity of this plant that the milk and meat obtained from cattle that consumed white snake-root became poisonous. This was termed as milk sickness in humans. Therefore white snake root are not allowed to grow in cattle grazing area. The poisonous nature of this plant is used successfully as an antidote for snake bites.
9. Doll’s eyes
I am sure such a name for a poisonous plant will not surprise you after you have taken a look at the picture above. The white structure that you see is the fruit of the plant- berries. They look like designer doll eyes due to the clear white color and a prominent black spot and hence the plant is very popular by this name. Although the plant is beautiful with wide leaves and white flowers turning to white berries it is deadly poisonous. Its berries are the most toxic to humans. They have cardio toxic effects and can lead to cardiac arrest on consumption. Study says that birds are not affected by this toxin.
8. Venus flytrap
A mere look at this plant is enough to determine its deadly nature. This plant as the name suggests is a fly eater that is it is a carnivorous plant. The two hinged leaves of the plant serve as a cage for the insects. The 3 prey identifying trichomes are highly sensitive and for the leaf to shut close 2 trichomes must be stimulated within 20 seconds by the crawling insect. The moment this happens the leaf is shut within a 0.1 seconds. The insect dies and is absorbed by the leaves for nutrition.
7. Common bladder-wort
This is another carnivorous plant but from a marine environment. All the carnivorous plants are not a threat to human beings but they are effective predators for the small life forms. The yellow flowers that you see are the aerial part of the plant. The targeting part stays submerged. These leafy structures due to the presence of air cavities air cavities keep floating. Whenever any small crustacean or other small fishes strike against its bladder the bladders burst open and the being is sucked in. The fibrous bladder is very sensitive and any contact with any hair is enough to trigger a response.
6. Angel trumpet
Don’t by the name or by the looks of the plant. This plant is in no way angelic. Angel trumpet gets its name from the downward pointing trumpet like flowers. The plant on the whole looks beautiful when blooming. But it is a highly dangerous plant. The plant contains a high proportion of scopolamine. It is a very potent hallucinogen. Many crimes have been committed with the powdered extract of this plant. It has been reported that a gang of thieves used scopolamine extract of this plant to rob their victims. The surprising thing being that the victims did not recall anything about the thieves or robbery. It is very toxic and causes severe effects like paralysis of smooth muscles that ultimately affects breathing, hallucinations, midriasis, diarrhea and even death.
5. Pitcher plant
Pitcher plant is the iconic member of the carnivorous plant family. The plant gets its name from its pitcher like body. The body is colorful and attracts insects and flies. As soon as they settle on the slippery border of the leaf they fall into the pit. This pit contains enzymes and other fluids that decompose the insect body and gradually the insect is absorbed. The body has several projections or waxy secretions that do not allow the insect to climb upward once they fall in. The giant pitcher plant; a member of this family; is so ferocious that it assimilates something as big as an adult rat and not mere flies and insects.
Oleander although poisonous is largely and popularly cultivated as a garden plant. It bears beautiful fragrant flowers and the plant has tolerance for wide range of climates. The cases of toxicity due to oleander are very high with as much as 845 reported cases in US alone in 2002. But mortality is very low with only 3 death cases out of 845 victims. The toxic principle oleandrin is a cardio toxin. It causes abdominal pain along with bloody motion at times. It can also cause irregular heartbeats and even cause seizures that can cause coma and death.
3. Western water hemlock
Western hemlock is by far the most poisonous plant in the entire North America. This plant growing in wet areas has a very pleasant odor. Therefore animals consume it readily. A very small portion of the plant is enough to show its toxic effect. The death can occur is around 15 minutes is severe cases. In humans to it has profound effect. The effect stars with frothing near the mouth and gets severe with seizures, paralysis and even respiratory failure. Only 1%w/w amount of plant in humans is lethal.
2. Suicide tree
This tree has two varieties but here we talking about the Indian variety which grows wild in Kerala and adjoining coastal regions. The tree bears fruits whose seeds are very poisonous. It contains an alkaloid that is cardio toxic. It alters the Ca channel of the heart and thereby causes respiratory failure. A striking thing about this toxin is that is it very playful. In spite of consumption the autopsies show no sign of it. Therefore murders due to poisoning by this toxin go undetected. A survey done by an organization showed 500 cases of deaths due to this toxin in Kerala alone. It is deadly poisonous in every way.
1. Castor plant
A plant that is most poisonous and yet very widely cultivated as an ornament plant. Castor plant on the whole is very poisonous the prominent part being its seeds. Castor contains ricin which is highly toxic. This ricin is also found in unprocessed castor oil but then is purified to make oil fit for consumption. The symptoms of poisoning include bloody diarrhea and vomiting, low blood pressure, abdominal pain, tremors. The severe dehydration along with hypotension leads to death. Death may occur if untreated. In 2007 the Guinness world records tagged it as the most poisonous plant in the world.