Right from our childhood we have been learning about plants and its various helpful purposes. But we are little aware of the different pernicious and perilous plants around us. Yes, we all know about pitcher plants and Venus flytraps and all but there are sundry other fatal, virulent and noxious plants in and around us. So, here is a list of 10 Dangerous Plants that can kill you:
Datura stramonium commonly known as jimsonweed, devil’s snare or simply datura belongs to the Solanaceae family. All parts of the plant are toxic containing the tropane alkaloids atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine which are categorised as deliriants. Datura poisoning causes delirium, bizarre behavior, hyperthermia, tachycardia and severe mydriasis. The plant has been associated with darker arts like witchcraft and voodoo for its delirium-inducing and hallucinogenic properties.
09. Atropa Belladonna
Atropa belladonna also known as deadly nightshade is a perennial herbaceous plant of the Solanaceae family and it’s commonly found in Europe, North Africa and western Asia. The berries and foliage are severely toxic, containing tropane alkaloids. The root of the plant is generally the most toxic part. Belladonna contains poisonous atropine and scopolamine in its stems, leaves, berries and roots. The symptoms include delirium and hallucinations, loss of voice, dry mouth, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, headaches, breathing difficulty and convulsions. The poisons affect the nervous system; it even paralyzes nerve endings in the involuntary muscles of the body, such as the blood vessels,heart and gastrointestinal muscles. It’s poisonous to both humans and cattle.
08. Nerium Oleander
Nerium oleander is an evergreen plant belonging to the family Apocynaceae. It is known as oleander due to its resemblance with olive Olea. Though it is widely used as an ornamental plant yet it is terribly poisonous. A single leaf of this plant is potent enough to end someone’s life. All parts of the plant contain several types of poison and two most potent are oleandrin and neriine, known for their powerful effect on the heart. Ingestion of oleander results in diarrhea, vomiting, intense stomach pain, drowsiness, dizziness, an irregular heartbeat, and often, death.
07. Dumb cane
Dumb cane or Dieffenbachia is tropical flowering plant in the family Araceae. Dumb canes are made up of cells containing microscopic needle-shaped crystals of calcium oxalate called raphides. When the leaves of this plant are chewed, these tiny spears of calcium oxalate can cause oral irritation and erythema. All parts of this plant are poisonous and eye contact with the juices can result in intense pain and swelling. In most cases, symptoms are mild, and can be successfully treated with analgesic agents, antihistamines, or medical charcoal.
06. English Yew
English yew or Taxus baccata is a conifer native to western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa, northern Iran and southwest Asia. Except the bright red aril surrounding the seed most parts of the tree are toxic. The foliage remains toxic and the toxicity increases in potency when dried. The major toxin within the yew is the alkaloid taxine. It takes a dose of about 50g to be fatal to a human. Consumption of the leaves can lead to increasingly serious symptoms, including dizziness, convulsions, dry mouth, weakness, dilation of the pupil, irregular heart rhythm and possibly death.
05. Water hemlock
Water hemlock or Cicuta is a poisonous plant belonging to the family Apiaceae. Water hemlock is considered one of North America’s most toxic plants, being highly poisonous to humans. The small white flowers and their stems aren’t harmful but the stalks of the water hemlock are full of a sap that contains the toxin cicutoxin, which damages the central nervous system, causing grand mal-seizures including loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions and eventually death, if ingested.
04. The Rosary Pea
The Rosary pea or Abrus precatorius, also known as jequirity, crab’s eye, precatory pea or bean, jumbie bead, Indian licorice, Akar saga etc., is a perennial climber. The plant is native to India and grows in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. The seeds are exceedingly poisonous as they are high in their abrin content. The toxin abrin is a dimer consisting of two protein subunits, termed A and B. The B chain facilitates abrin’s entry into a cell and the A chain prevents protein synthesis by inactivating the 26S subunit of theribosome. Abrin is quite similar to that of than ricin. Less than 3 micrograms of abrin in the body is enough to kill. Symptoms of abrin poisoning are: difficult breathing, fever, nausea and fluid in the lungs. If ingested — and the seed coating is broken — rosary pea seeds cause severe nausea and vomiting, which eventually leads to dehydration, and ends with the kidneys, liver and spleen shutting down. Death usually follows within three to four days.
03. White snakeroot
White snakeroot or Ageratina altissima is a poisonous plant belonging to the family Asteraceae. White snakeroot contains the toxin tremetol. White snakeroot’s leaves, stems, and small white flowers are loaded with this toxin. White snakeroot when consumed by cattle the meat and milk become contaminated with the toxin, which when gets bio accumulated in human body can even lead to death. The poisoning is called milk sickness. Milk sickness was possibly believed to be the cause of death in 1818 of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, mother of Abraham Lincoln. The plants are toxic to horses, goats, and sheep also. Signs of poisoning in these animals include depression and lethargy, placement of hind feet close together (horses, goats, cattle) or held far apart (sheep), nasal discharge, excessive salivation, arched body posture, and rapid or difficult breathing. Dr. Anna Pierce Hobbs Bixby is usually credited with identifying the plant in the 1830s. Legend has it that she was taught about the plant’s properties by a Shawnee woman.
02. The suicide tree
Cerbera odollam or the so-called suicide tree belongs to the family Apocynaceae is a small tree found all over India, other parts of southern Asia and in swampy areas. As the name suggest, it produces a deadly poison, often used for suicide or murder. The seeds of the tree contain cerberin a potent alkaloid toxin related to digoxin, a poison found in foxglove . This poison blocks the ion channels in heart muscle , causing disruption of the heart beat. The seeds have been used as a poison in Madagascar for a long time. The poison was responsible for the death of 2% of the population of the central province of Madagascar. In 2004, that a team of French forensic toxicologists concluded that Cerbera odollam is used by more people to commit suicide and murder than any other plant, having identified more than 500 cases of fatal Cerbera poisoning between 1989 and 1999 in the south-west Indian state of Kerala alone.
01. The castor oil plant
The castor oil plant or Ricinus communis is a species of flowering plant belonging to the family Euphorbiaceae. It is mainly found in South-eastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa and India, but it’s grown as an ornamental plant throughout. The toxic nature of the plant is due to the presence of ricin, a highly poisonous, naturally occurring lectin. According to the 2007 edition of Guinness World Records, castor oil plant is the most poisonous plant in the world. Ingestion of the seeds can cause burning sensations in the mouth and the throat, intense abdominal pain, vomiting and bloody diarrhea with 3 days and can possibly lead to death with 3-5 days, if not treated soon.