What toxic plant is responsible for killing the mother of Abraham Lincoln? Here are the facts about Plants: 10 Most dangerous plants on Earth.
10 – Belladonna.
Belladonna goes by many names, all of which indicate that it is not to be taken lightly.
Deadly nightshade, death cherries, and devil’s berries all refer to the same plant, which has been used as an effective poison for centuries.
The berries look delicious and tempting, but the entire plant is so poisonous, even a light touch will cause your skin to break out.
At one point, Belladonna was thought to be a good recreational drug. The trip supposedly started out nice, but then led to permanent blindness, brain damage, and death. So no, it wasn’t a good recreational drug.
9 –Cerbera Odollam [The Suicide Tree].
The Cerbera Odollam is known as the “Suicide tree” in India, where its toxins are frequently used for, well, suicide.
Between 1989 and 1999, the Cerbera was detected in the deaths of more than 500 people in just one small region of India alone.
But toxicologists believe the actual number of deaths due to the Cerbera tree may be much higher.
The toxin is actually quite difficult to detect in a conventional autopsy, and some suspect that it is frequently used as a murder weapon for that very reason.
8 – Foxgloves.
The foxglove plant is used to manufacture a particular type of heart medicine known as Digitalis.
Digitalis is useful in treating heart failure, because it targets the heart and gets it to pump harder and faster when the dosage and effects are controlled.
But when it’s just in the form of the foxglove plant, neither the dosage nor the effects are controlled, so consuming it is like an unregulated dose of heart medicine.
Foxglove grows commonly in the wild in North America, and its small berries attract both children and animals.
7 – Water Hemlock.
Water Hemlock is one of the most dangerous plants in North America.
Consuming the plant in any way usually leads to a series of symptoms including vomiting and violent convulsions as soon as 15 minutes after ingestion.
In October of 1992, a pair of brothers went out foraging for wild ginseng, and mistook the root of the water hemlock for ginseng.
The younger brother took three bites from the root of the plant, which looks similar to a parsnip. An hour later, the older brother called for an emergency rescue.
It took about 15 minutes for medical professionals to arrive and begin treating the man, but there was nothing they could do to reverse the effects. The man died less than three hours after his first bite.
6 – White Snakeroot.
White Snakeroot isn’t consumed very commonly by people, at least directly.
But because the plant would grow frequently near grazing fields, it would often be ingested by cattle.
The poison in white snakeroot would not only kill the cattle, but also taint the beef and milk of the animal.
Humans who ate beef or drank the milk of a cow that died by white snakeroot would suffer the same poison symptoms.
This is actually how Abraham Lincoln’s mother died in 1818, but white snakeroot wasn’t identified as the problem until the 1920s.
5 – Manchineel.
The Manchineel tree is so toxic, it’s not even a good idea to stand near it and breathe.
The fruits are toxic, touching the trunk or the leaves will cause blisters, and the tree’s sap is thought to have killed Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon.
The fruits of the Manchineel tree are said to be sweet, and are frequently known as “beach apples” in English. Of course, the Spanish name for them translates to “apple of death.”
The good news is, the manchineel tree isn’t usually known to actually cause death. It’s more like poison ivy, in which you’ll break out in burning blisters for hours anywhere you touch it – including in your mouth and down your throat if you eat the “beach apple” fruit.
4 – Rosary Pea.
The rosary pea contains the toxin abrin, which is similar in many ways to the better-known toxin ricin.
But there is some disagreement about exactly how toxic the rosary pea is. Some reports list it as being several times deadlier than ricin, when processed a certain way.
On the other hand, there are also reports of people ingesting rosary peas without even experiencing minor effects.
So the plant itself, while potentially harmful, is not frequently known to be deadly, but its components can be processed into much deadlier poisons.
3 - Oleander.
The Oleander is native to eastern Asia and southern Europe, grows easily in North America, and is a bright flowering bush common in landscaping projects.
And also, if a child swallows one of the leaves, they’re probably going to die. Which is odd, because oleander plants are frequently found in and around schoolyards.
Even inhaling smoke from a burning oleander plant can be fatal.
2 – Castor Bean Plant.
The seeds of the castor bean plant are used to make castor oil, which was historically used as a laxative.
Of course, it’s also used to make ricin, that previously-mentioned toxin that is known to be highly deadly.
It usually takes only about four to eight seeds of the caster bean plant to kill a human being within a matter of hours – but only if the person chews the seeds.
If the seeds are swallowed whole, it is possible for them to simply pass through the digestive tract with the toxin still inside. Don’t try this at home.
1 - Tobacco.
It’s already well-known that smoking kills more than 16 thousand people a day worldwide.
But there’s a commonly-held belief that tobacco is only deadly because of chemical additives.
Nope. Homegrown, natural, organic tobacco still contains more than 40 carcinogens, most of which are the same as the most harmful effects of commercial cigarettes.
Nicotine in natural tobacco is so harmful, wet tobacco leaves can actually cause nicotine poisoning if they make contact with your skin.
Children who make contact with wet tobacco leaves usually have to be hospitalized.