There are a lot of plants that may look and smell lovely but are actually poisonous. Ingesting some of their parts can cause serious harm among humans and animals. However, it’s not always easy to recognize them as some varieties are still grown in British gardens and outdoor spaces all over the world.
To help you steer clear of these species, here are the world’s seven deadliest plants you should try and avoid:
1. Aconite/Monkshood/Wolfsbane (Aconitum napellus)
Don’t get fooled — the Aconite plant may bloom pretty purple flowers but every part of it, especially the roots, are poisonous. It can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and numbness when eaten.
Native to western and central Europe, hunters during ancient times use this plant’s narrow tips as bait to kill wolves. This is why people also refer to it as the Wolfsbane.
2. Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Every part of the Oleander plant is deadly, containing lethal cardiac glycosides known as oleandrin and nerine. And though some commonly grow it as a hedge and ornamental, eating this plant can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, and other serious issues.
The Oleander is extremely harmful that mere contact with the leaves and sap can irritate the skin. The toxins it carries are also so strong that people have become ill after eating honey made by bees that have sipped the nectar from their flowers!
3. Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna)
As its name suggests, the Deadly Nightshade’s stems, leaves, berries, and roots contain atropine and scopolamine that can cause paralysis among the body’s involuntary muscles. Aside from being dangerous to humans, it is also one of the harmful plants that can kill your pets.
It blooms bell-shaped purple flowers and shiny blackberries, which some birds, rabbits and cows can surprisingly eat. The Deadly Nightshade is commonly found in scrubby and woodland areas.
4. White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)
This North American herb is notorious for being so toxic that it can kill not only the livestock but also humans that eat meat or drink milk from them. Its symptoms of “milk poisoning” include loss of appetite, nausea, weakness, abdominal discomfort, and other serious issues.
White Snakeroots bloom flat-topped clusters of small white flowers and they contain toxic alcohol called tremetol.
5. Castor oil plants (Ricinus communis)
Despite the fact that Castor oil plants’ seeds are dangerous, they grow in various gardens all over the world. Its seeds contain a toxic material called ricin which can be lethal when a person ingests several pieces.
Ingestion of these seeds can cause burning sensations in the mouth and throat and lead to intense abdominal pain. A victim can also experience severe diarrhoea within 36 hours and can be in a critical condition within 3-5 days if left untreated.
6. Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia)
Though prized as a decorative addition to gardens, all parts of the Angel’s trumpet plant are actually poisonous. It can be fatal to humans or animals when ingested. In fact, it has occasionally been used as a recreational drug, but the risk of overdose is so high that it often leads to deadly consequences.
You can determine an Angel’s trumpet with its woody-stemmed bushes and pendulous flowers that hang like bells.
7. Birthwort (Aristolochia clematitis)
Birthworts contain aristolochic acid that can cause kidney failure. Though it has been used as a traditional drug, the US FDA has warned consumers about the side effects of medicines that contain this type of acid.
Its roots and stems are full of this acid and are therefore poisonous, so it’s best to avoid ingesting the plant altogether. You can also check out our blog on some of the world’s ugliest plants where a Birthwort variety has been listed.
Not every plant deserves a place in your garden. There are some varieties which can pose danger to you and your family. Make sure to take note of these species and rid your outdoor space of any threats to your health and safety!