How many of us, as children, ran around in the trees and bushes with no care in the world as to what we were touching? Hopefully, as you get older you’re a little more careful and aware of your surroundings. The idea that lethal plants are only found in tropical climates is false, we’ve got plenty of herbage that’ll kill you here too.
Some of these plants are actually quite beautiful, some look like berries. It’s all very confusing. And though we should all know that even the most beautiful things can harm you, our brains probably won’t transmit a warning to us if we don’t know for certain whether there’s a threat.
Hopefully, you’ll never come into contact with any of these plants and subsequently worry for your life, but if you do, we have you covered. Just in case you’re ever stranded out in the wilderness and need to forage some sustenance, here’s a handy list of several plants that you shouldn’t forage because they will definitely harm you and may even kill you.
1. Buttercups (temperate zone of Northern Hemisphere): How unnerving is it that this plant is pretty and called Buttercup, but can cause blisters upon contact, will provoke coughing, larynx spasms, and can make you temporarily blind if its sap gets in your eyes?
2. Cowbane or Water Hemlock (Europe, Asia, North America): It smells like carrots, but it’s one of the most toxic plants on earth. If you come into contact with it, it can cause nausea, seizures, cardiac depression, and even death. The plant is so potent that as little as 100-200 grams of its root are enough to kill a cow.
3. Elder (temperate zone of Northern Hemisphere and Australia): This is one of the plants that look like berries. All parts of the plant are toxic and can cause headaches, weakness, abdominal pains, and sometimes even seizures. Cardiac or respiratory failure are also possible symptoms. Though ripe black elderberries are completely safe and used to make beverages and pies, go figure.
4. Oleander (tropical and subtropical regions): A beautiful plant that has a captivating fragrance, but contains cardiac glycosides which can alter your heart rate, cause nausea, headaches, weakness, and even death. Legend has it that Napoleon’s army started a fire with Oleander branches and roasted meat on it. Some of the men didn’t wake up the following morning.
5. Aconite or Wolf’s Bane (Europe, Asia, North America): It is extremely toxic and can cause cardiac arrhythmia, numbness, darkened vision, and death. Even bees can poison themselves if they collect its aconite pollen.
6. Jimsonweed (North and Central America, Europe, Southern Russia): This plant looks like a potato or tomato and has thorny capsule fruits with black seeds inside. The flower releases a stupefying smell and contains alkaloids that cause palpitations, disorientation, and delirium. In severe cases, death or coma are possible.
7. Hogweed (temperate regions of Eurasia): Some species of this plant contain furanocoumarins which cause painful blisters if you are under sunlight. If it gets on your hands, wash them immediately and avoid sunlight for about 2 days.
8. Spurge (everywhere): The sap of this plant leaves blisters, which progresses to indisposition, swelling, and eventually a fever. A ton of different species belong to the Euphorbia genus. People actually have this plant in the house so it’s probably safest not to touch anyone’s plants.
9. Rhubarb (Europe, Russia, North America): Many countries actually eat Rhubarb but not many people know that you aren’t supposed to eat the leaves and roots of the plant because they contain large amounts of oxalic acid which can cause burns in the throat and eyes, kidney stones, nausea, and diarrhea.
10. Belladonna (Northern Africa, Europe, Southern Russia, Asia Minor, part of North America): Mild poisoning can include symptoms such as palpitations, dryness, and burning in the mouth. Severe poisoning symptoms include complete loss of orientation, cramps, and even death.
11. Castor Bean (tropical, subtropical, and temperate zones): Used to make castor oil, but the heat treatment destroys the toxins. Otherwise, this is possibly the most dangerous plant there is. It contains the extremely toxic compounds of ricin and ricinine. The seeds are acutely deadly: eating 4-7 will cause death. Even smaller doses will cause irreparable damage as ricin destroys body tissue.
12. Venus flytrap (subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States in North and South Carolina): This peculiar plant can’t kill you but it looks like something out of a horror movie.