Beautiful, colorful plants and flowers are sometimes just as dangerous as they are pretty. A plant’s only defense system is to somehow inflict pain or suffering on its predator. This may be in the form of thorns, like the prickly Mala Mujer, or in the form of toxins that affect the victim when the plant is ingested. There are also dangerous plants that feed on small animals and insects, using their leaves to trap their victims. Here are the top 5 most dangerous plants on Earth.
#5: Water Hemlock
A member of the carrot family, the water hemlock is considered the most toxic plant in North America by the USDA. The small white flowers and their stems aren’t harmful. The stalks of the water hemlock, however, are full of a sap that contains cicutoxin. Ingesting just a small amount of the cicutoxin can affect the nervous system and cause a grand mal seizure. Oral contact with this dangerous plant is typically fatal.
#4: Angel's Trumpet
Also known as jimson weed, angel’s trumpet is a bright and intriguing plant that can be extremely dangerous. Containing a combination of deliriants, angel’s trumpet is a hallucinogen that can cause a person to be entirely unaware of his own actions and surroundings. If the toxins are extracted from the angel’s trumpet plant, they can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled. Even small amounts of the dangerous plant’s active ingredients can often result in death.
#3: White Snakeroot
Commonly found growing wild, white snakeroot’s leaves, stems, and small white flowers are loaded with an unsaturated alcohol called tremetol. Snakeroot poses the greatest risk to cows and sheep. Growth of this dangerous plant is usually controlled today to prevent livestock poisoning, but in the 1800s, milk sickness from contaminated animals was common. In fact, Abraham Lincoln’s mother died of tremetol poisoning from tainted milk.
The narcissus is more commonly known as the daffodil, a popular spring bloom in many flower gardens. The daffodil is not as dangerous as the variety known as poet’s narcissus, but both types contain toxins found in the bulbs of the flower. In many cultures, the narcissus has medicinal value as a pain reliever, a cure for baldness, and even an aphrodisiac. Unfortunately, too much of the narcissus poison can cause severe illness and possible death.
The most dangerous plant on earth is usually considered to be a very common decorative shrub called the oleander. As deadly as it is beautiful, the oleander contains several toxins in its flowers, twigs, leaves, and berries. If any part of this dangerous plant is ingested, it affects the heart, digestive tract, and the nervous system almost immediately. One oleander leaf is enough to kill an adult. The oleander poses risks to humans, as well as animals.
Looks can be deceiving. Many of the deadliest plants look too beautiful to ever cause harm. Make note of the top 5 most dangerous plants on earth listed above if you’re visiting a garden or if you’re planting your own. Children and small pets are the most likely to be affected by toxic plants, so keep that in mind when you plant flowers like these around your home.