When you’re out in the wild, there’s always the chance of stumbling upon a poisonous plant. While adults will probably just pass by, children could suffer from their curiosity. Bright Side reminds you that many dangerous plants are grown as decorations and can be found not only in the woods but also in our homes and gardens. Stay alert!
Scientific name: Ranunculus
Where it occurs: In the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere. Prefers damp spots or bogs.
There are several species of buttercups, and many of them are poisonous.
Why it is dangerous: It contains caustic sap that can leave blisters on the skin. On contact with mucous membranes, it provokes coughing and larynx spasms. If the sap gets into your eyes, it can cause temporary blindness.
10. Cowbane or Water Hemlock
Scientific name: Cicuta virosa
Where it occurs: In Europe, Asia, and North America. It grows in wet places such as bogs and riverbanks.
Cowbane smells like carrots, but don’t let yourselves be misled: it’s one of the most toxic plants on Earth. It’s not easily distinguished from related species; to be on the safe side, don’t touch similar-looking plants growing in damp places.
Why it is dangerous: Poisoning symptoms include nausea, seizures, and cardiac depression. It may even cause death. As little as 100-200 grams (3.5-7 oz) of cowbane root is enough to kill a cow.
Scientific name: Sambucus
Where it occurs: Temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere and Australia.
The most common members of this genus are red elder and black elder. All parts of the plant are toxic. If you as much as touch an elder, you’d better wash your hands. Ripe black elderberries, however, are completely safe and are used to make beverages and pies.
Why it is dangerous: Causes headache, weakness, abdominal pains, and, occasionally, seizures. Cardiac or respiratory failure are also possible.
Scientific name: Nerium
Where it occurs: In tropical and subtropical regions. It is used in landscape designing and grown all over the world as a houseplant.
Nerium is truly a treacherous plant enticing us with its fragrance and beautiful pink or white flowers.
Why it is dangerous: It contains cardiac glycosides that can alter your heart rate and cause nausea, headache, weakness, and even death. According to a legend, Napoleon’s soldiers once started a fire using oleander branches and roasted meat on it. In the morning, some of them didn’t wake up.
7. Aconite or Wolf’s Bane
Scientific name: Aconitum
Where it occurs: In Europe, Asia, and North America. Due to its beautiful purple, blue, and yellow flowers, it is grown for decorative purposes. It’s a tall and eye-catching plant.
In the ancient world, it was used for poisoning arrows. Even bees can poison themselves if they collect aconite pollen.
Why it is dangerous: It is VERY toxic. It causes cardiac arrhythmia, numbness, darkened vision, and death.
Scientific name: Datura stramonium
Where it occurs: In Northern and Central America, Europe, and Southern Russia.
Jimsonweed resembles potatoes or tomatoes, which is not surprising because it’s their close relative. It is an inconspicuous plant with thorny capsule fruits that have black seeds inside. Its white flowers emit a stupefying smell.
Why it is dangerous: It contains alkaloids that cause palpitations, disorientation, and delirium. In severe cases, death or coma are possible. Shamans of many peoples used this plant in their rituals.
Scientific name: Heracleum
Where it occurs: In temperate regions of Eurasia. One species grows in the USA.
It’s a giant and rather impressive-looking plant, but be careful not to take photos of yourselves next to it.
Why it is dangerous: Some species contain furanocoumarins that cause painful blistering under sunlight. If some hogweed sap gets on your hand, wash it and protect it from sunlight for about 2 days.
Scientific name: Euphorbia
Where it occurs: Everywhere. It can often be seen even in our houses.
A huge number of species belong to the Euphorbia genus. They are often very different: some look like cacti, others like flowers. Teach your children not to touch unfamiliar plants, even if they grow in pots.
Why it is dangerous: The sap leaves blisters, later joined by indisposition, swellings, and fever.
Scientific name: Rheum rhabarbarum
Where it occurs: Cultivated in Europe, Russia, and the USA.
In many countries, rhubarb is used to make pies, salads, and sauces. Some even like to nibble on its raw stalks.
Why it is dangerous: Not everyone knows that the leaves and root of this plant are not to be eaten because they contain a huge amount of oxalic acid. They can cause burning in the throat and eyes, kidney stones, nausea, and diarrhea.
Scientific name: Atropa belladonna
Where it occurs: In Northern Africa, Europe, Southern Russia, Asia Minor, and parts of North America.
Belladonna looks like a bush with black berries and pinkish flowers. It contains atropine, an alkaloid causing pupil dilation. In the Middle Ages, belladonna drops were used to make the eyes more attractive. Today similar drops are used during eye operations.
Why it is dangerous: Mild poisoning leads to palpitations and dryness and burning in the mouth. Severe poisoning causes complete loss of orientation and sometimes cramps and death.
1. Castor Bean
Scientific name: Ricinus communis
Where it occurs: In tropical, subtropical, and temperate zones. Because of its unusual appearance, it is grown as an ornamental plant.
Unsurprisingly, castor beans are used to make castor oil. But don’t worry: heat treatment destroys all the toxins.
Why it is dangerous: Possibly the most dangerous plant there is. It contains extremely toxic compounds: ricin and ricinine. The seeds are particularly deadly: eating only 4-7 of them will lead to death. Smaller doses cause irreparable harm to health since ricin destroys body tissues.
Bonus: Venus flytrap
This curious plant is hardly able to kill you, but doesn’t it look like something from a horror movie?