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Re: Gorgeous But Deadly: 13 Unassuming Poisonous Plants

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avatar Gorgeous But Deadly: 13 Unassuming Poisonous Plants
October 26, 2009 08:30PM
avatar Re: Gorgeous But Deadly: 13 Unassuming Poisonous Plants
October 26, 2009 09:23PM
Don't you have to travel a long way to get poisoned by most of these plants?

The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan
avatar Re: Gorgeous But Deadly: 13 Unassuming Poisonous Plants
October 26, 2009 09:29PM
Nope -- Delphinium grows in Dana Meadow! Caladium is sold at any Home Depot year round. Another one not mentioned is Oleander (common street shrub) Don't eat Pointsetta this winter, either.

avatar Re: Gorgeous But Deadly: 13 Unassuming Poisonous Plants
October 26, 2009 09:40PM
Nope -- Don't eat Pointsetta this winter, either.

Leave it for the Brits:
avatar Re: Gorgeous But Deadly: 13 Unassuming Poisonous Plants
October 26, 2009 10:50PM
Privet is found wild all over California, and a cultivar is used in the landscape -- extremely common (I have 6 of them in my backyard) The Windflower bulb is sold in all nursuries and Home Depot in Ca, also. Yellow Jessamine is very very popular landscape vine, too. Larkspur is a wildflower found in many places that Columbine in found.

avatar Re: Gorgeous But Deadly: 13 Unassuming Poisonous Plants
October 26, 2009 09:42PM
Ok, lets try to figure out which ones are likely to be encountered in the Sierras west of the Mississippi in the wild:

Manchineel Tree (Carribean)
The Manchineel tree (Hippomane Mancinella) is so dangerous, it’s often marked with warning signs. Its leaves and small green fruit resemble those of an apple tree, hence the name – which is derived from “manzanilla”, meaning “little apple” in Spanish. But in Spain, this tree is more often known as “little apple of death”. All parts of this tree are so toxic that if you burn it and stand near the smoke, you can go blind.
Stand under this tree during a rainstorm, and you’ll get a nasty surprise in the form of blisters all over exposed parts of your body caused by contact with a white milky substance that the tree secretes when it rains. The Caribs used Manzanilla sap to poison their arrows and even tied captives to its trunk to ensure a slow and painful death.

Heart of Jesus (Home Depot)
Eat the Heart of Jesus (Caladium x hortulanum), and you’ll end up praying for mercy. It actually wouldn’t be too difficult to accidentally set your mouth and throat on fire with this plant, since it shares its common name – Elephant Ear – with another genus of plants called Colocasia esculenta (taro) which have edible roots. While taro tastes akin to potatoes, Caladium tastes like the burning depths of hell thanks to its toxic compound, Calcium oxalate.

Doll’s eyes (Mid West?)
(images via: Illinois Wildflowers)
With its broad green leaves and dainty white flowers, Doll’s Eyes (Actaea pachypoda) certainly doesn’t look dangerous. But, the striking white berries – once sewn into rag dolls as eyes, hence the name – are highly poisonous. They contain cardiogenic toxins that have an immediate sedative effect on human cardiac muscle tissue and can be fatal if eaten in large quantities. Even in small quantities, they can cause severe mouth pain.

Larkspur (common)
(image via: Farmer Julie)
Like its cousin monkshood, larkspur (delphinium) is a highly popular ornamental plant, often planted in gardens for their dramatic spikes of showy blue blossoms. Larkspur is so pretty that children often just can’t resist touching them, but even brief contact with the flowers or leaves can irritate the skin. And, if you ignore the warning sign of this plant’s strong, acrid taste, you could die – it’s packed full of potent alkaloids. Before keeling over from respiratory paralysis, you’ll experience excitability, disoreintation, muscle tremors, stiffness, weakness and seizures.

Neat, orderly rows of privet hedges (Ligustrum) look anything but frightening, but eat the berries and you’ll never want to go near this plant again. Some species, such as Ligustrum ovalifolium, contain toxic Glycosides which cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, weakness, cold and clammy skin. Equestrians should be especially careful not to let their horses munch on this unassuming plant, as it is often fatal to them.

Yellow Jessamine (Southern US)
(image via: KillerPlants.com)
Yellow Jessamine: it’s a pretty name for a pretty plant, but don’t be lulled into complacency by its Southern charm. This perennial evergreen vine, which is the state flower of South Carolina, can be deadly. Though Gelsemium sempervirens is sometimes used in herbal medicine to treat problems like sciatica, when used incorrectly, it can – and does – kill. All parts of this plant contain the toxic strychnine-related alkaloids gelsemine and gelseminine, which is even fatal to honeybees when they make the mistake of gathering its nectar.

Fairy Bells
This plant’s attractive appearance earned it names like Fairy Bells, Virgin’s Glove and Fairy Thimbles – but it’s also known as Dead Men’s Bells and Bloody Fingers, with good reason. Digitalis purpurea, Common Foxglove which is often found growing wild in the woods, is an undeniably beautiful plant containing cardiac glycoside digitoxin. Eat it and you’ll experience nausea, vomiting, convulsions, cardiac arrest and finally, death.

Tree Tobacco (Texas?)
Considering how much tobacco is consumed around the world on a daily basis, you might imagine a plant called Tree Tobacco is okay to smoke or eat. Not so much. Nicotiana Glauca causes vomiting, diarrhea, slow pulse, dizziness, collapse, and respiratory failure and is known to frequently kill horses and cattle, especially in Texas where it grows wild.

Golden Chain
Golden Chain (Laburnum Anagyroides) is a majestic tree, with cascades of sunny yellow flowers. It has a long-held reputation as poison in English lore, particularly since its seeds look very similar to peas. They contain both Lupinine and dangerous enzyme inhibitors, and as few as 20 laburnum beans can kill a child.

Mother of Millions
In 1997, 125 cows died in New South Wales after eating an ornamental succulent plant that’s common all over the drier parts of Australia. Mother of Millions (Kalanchoe tubiflora) is so named for its astounding ability to reproduce – each plant produces thousands of offspring. But this drought-resistant plant causes diarrhea, heart failure and death in stock animals that mistake it for food.

Miracle Leaf
It’s called Miracle Leaf thanks to its medicinal properties, but use Kalanchoe pinnata improperly and you’ll need a miracle to emerge unscathed. It contains bufadienolide cardiac glycosides, which can cause cardiac poisoning, particularly in grazing animals.

The delicate, starry white blossoms of the Windflower plant look like something that would adorn a bridal veil, but touch it, and you’ll get a nasty rash. The entire plant contains poisonous chemicals that are toxic to humans and animals, including protoanemonin, a skin and gastrointestinal irritant.

White Bryony
White Bryony sounds pleasant enough, but get a load of its other name: Devil’s Turnip. This vine-like relative of cucumber produces pale pink berries filled with a foul-smelling juice as well as a large, tuberous rootstock. When used properly by knowledgable herbalists, this plant treats a number of health disorders, but ingestion can cause vomiting, kidney damage, convulsions and miscarriage.

The cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas.
-- Carl Sagan

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/26/2009 09:45PM by Frank Furter.
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