Friday, August 5, 2016

Dangerous Plants

The English Yew is native to Europe, Northern Africa and South West Asia. It is a small to medium tree that has seeds enclosed in a soft, red, berry like armor. The berry armor is the only part of the fruit that is not poisonous and this allows birds to eat the fruit and spread the seeds without ill effect. It takes a dose of about 50g to be fatal to a human. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, muscle tremors, convulsion, collapse and finally cardiac arrest. In cases of severe poisoning, death can set in so fast that the other symptoms are missed.
Water hemlock, or poison parsnip, is a group of highly poisonous plants that is native to the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. The plants all have very distinctive small white or green flowers, arranged in an umbrella shape. Water hemlock is considered North America’s most poisonous plant as it is poisonous to humans. The plants contain a toxin named cicutoxin which causes seizures. This poison is found in all parts of the plant but is most concentrated in the roots. Besides immediate seizures, other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, tremors and confusion. Death is usually caused by respiratory failure or ventricular fibrillation and can occur within hours.
Wolfsbane, also known as leopard’s bane, or devils helmet, is a plant belonging to the buttercup family. These perennial plants are native to mountainous regions of the northern hemisphere. The plant contains very large quantities of a poison called alkaloid pseudaconitine. In cases of ingestion, symptoms include burning in the limbs and abdomen and sets in immediately. In cases of large doses, death can occur within 2-6 hours and 20ml is enough to kill an adult human.

Wolfsbane is mentioned in mythology and werewolf lore as being able to either repel the werewolves/lycanthropes, or to induce the wolf state regardless of the moon phase. Hence the name.
The Rosary Pea, also known as Crab’s eye or Jumbie bead, is a slender perennial that twines around trees, shrubs and hedges. The plant is native to Indonesia, but grows in most parts of the world. It is best known for its seeds, which are used as beads, and have a bright red to arrange color with a single black spot. The poison contained in the plant (abrin) is very similar to the poison ricin, found in other poisonous plants. There is one main difference between these poisons, and that is that abrin is about 75 times stronger than ricin. The lethal dose is much less, and in some cases as little as 3 micrograms can kill an adult human.
Belladonna, also known as Devils berries, death cherries or deadly nightshade, is native to Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. It is also one of the world’s most poisonous plants as it contains Tropane alkaloids, some of which cause delirium and hallucinations. Other symptoms of Belladonna poisoning include loss of voice, dry mouth, headaches, breathing difficulty and convulsions. The whole plant is poisonous, but berries usually play the greatest risk. 10 – 20 berries can kill an adult, but it only takes 1 leaf (in which the poisons are concentrated) to kill a full grown man.
Castor plants are indigenous to the Mediterranean basin, eastern Africa and India, but are widely grown as an ornamental plant. A toxin called ricin is found throughout the plant, but is concentrated in the seeds/beans (which castor oil is made from). One raw seed is enough to kill a human in 2 days, which makes for a long, agonizing and unstoppable death. The first symptoms will be experienced within a few hours and will include a burning sensation in the throat & mouth, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. The process is unstoppable and the final cause of death will be dehydration.

Strangely, humans are the most sensitive to these seeds, as it takes 1-4 to kill a full grown human, 11 to kill a dog and a whopping 80 seeds to kill a duck. The castor plant currently holds the Guinness World Record for most poisonous plant.