Plants are thought to be very beneficial for us, especially indoor plants. They purify the air, provide oxygen and simply refresh our home and make it more comfortable to live in. However, there are certain plants which don’t belong in your home because they can be dangerous and health hazardous for the entire family.
- Water Hemlock (Cicuta Maculata)
This plant is closely related to the poison hemlock, which was used to kill Socrates in ancient times. This plant has been dubbed “the most violently toxic plant in North America” and it truly lives up to its nickname. It’s a large wildflower from the carrot family and it’s similar to Queen Anne’s lace by appearance. It can sometimes even be mixed up with parsnips or celery, and if ingested can have deadly consequences. Water hemlock contains a deadly cictutoxin which is mostly concentrated in its roots and its consequences are felt almost immediately after exposure. Symptoms form water hemlock poisoning are painful convulsion, abdominal cramps, nausea and the most fatal cases result in death. Survivors from this type of poisoning often experience amnesia and lasting tremors.
- Deadly Nightshade (Atropa Belladonna)
The legend says that Macbeth’s soldiers poisoned the Danish invaders with wine spiced with the sweet fruit of the Belladonna. Its sweet taste and berry-like fruits are responsible for most cases of poisoning. The nightshade is native to the wooded areas in central and southern Europe and Asia and it has dull green leaves and black cherry-sized berries. The poison responsible for its toxicity is atropine and scopolamine which can be found in its stems, leaves, fruits and even roots. The poison, if ingested, causes paralysis of the involuntary muscles, including the heart, which can quickly have deadly consequences. It’s so poisonous that even if your skin comes in contact with the plant it can become irritated and inflamed.
- White Snakeroot (Ageratina Altissima)
White snakeroot is native to North America and it’s an herb with flat-topped clusters of small white flowers, containing a toxic alcohol, called trematol. This herb is responsible for the death of Nancy Hawks, Abraham Lincoln’s mother. The worst thing about white snakeroot is that you don’t have to ingest it directly to be poisoned, Nancy died from drinking the milk of a cow that had previously grazed on this herb. This means that even the meat and milk from poisoned cattle can have deadly consequences if ingested. The usual symptoms of white snakeroot “milk poisoning” include loss of appetite, nausea, weakness, abdominal discomfort, red tongue, abnormal acidity of the blood, and eventually death. However, nowadays farmers are warned about the toxicity of this deadly plant and do everything in their power to remove it from their pastures.
- Castor Bean (Ricinus Communis)
Castor bean is usually grown as an ornamental plant due to its attractive looks and it’s native to Africa. We’ve all heard about castor oil which is produced from processed seeds, but before processing the beans contain a poison called ricin which is extremely deadly even in very small amounts. Just one or two seeds are enough to kill a child while just eight seeds can easily kill an adult person. Ricin prevents the synthesis of proteins within cells and can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and lead to death. The most famous case of ricin poisoning has to be the assassination of Georgi Markov in 1978, a journalist who spoke out against the Bulgarian government. Most fatalities are the result of accidental ingestion by children and pets.
- Rosary Pea (Abrus Precatorius)
Rosary peas, otherwise known as jequirity beans contain abrin, an extremely deadly ribosome-inhibiting protein. This plant is native to tropical areas and is often used in jewelry and prayer rosaries. It’s curious that if the seeds aren’t damaged they are not poisonous, while if they are somehow scratched, broken, or chewed can be deadly. 3 micrograms of abrin are enough to kill an adult, which is less than the amount of poison in one seed, and it is said that numerous jewelry makers have poisoned themselves and even died after accidentally puncturing their fingers while working with the seeds. Like ricin, abrin prevents protein synthesis within cells and can cause organ failure within four days.