Plants have developed a variety of ways of protecting themselves from all things herbivorous. For example-Many have evolved spikes, stings and even just an unpleasant taste. Many of these deadly poisonous plants have signature names such as Devil’s helmet, poison hemlock, deadly nightshade, the little apple of death and the suicide tree.
Doll’s eyes (Actaea pachypoda): Doll’s eyes is a species of flowering plant in the family Ranunculaceae, native to Eastern and Northern North America. The plant also known as White Baneberry. Although the whole plant has been declared toxic for human consumption, but the berries are considered the most poisonous part of plant which can have an immediate sedative effect on human cardiac muscle tissue, and lead to cardiac arrest and death.
Water Hemlock (Cicuta maculata): The deadly nature of plant has been credited it “the most violently toxic plant in North America.” Among general public popularly known as the plant that killed Socrates. Water hemlock is infused with deadly cicutoxin, especially in its roots, and will rapidly generate potentially fatal symptoms such as painful convulsions, abdominal cramps, nausea, and death are common, and those who survive are often afflicted with amnesia or lasting tremors.
Oleander (Nerium oleander): Oleander is native to Asia, now common throughout Mediterranean regions. The Italian name for oleander ‘ass killer’ which indicates its fatal image. Ass killing effects almost straight away with a combination of cardiac and gastrointestinal symptoms, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, drooling and irregular heart beat. The plant was found to contain toxins such as cardiac glycosides, nerioside and oldendrin, all contribute to oleander’s lethal armory. There are reports of serious poisoning resulting smoke from burning the plant. A study revealed that 100 grams (3.5oz) is enough to kill a fully grown horse.
Manchineel (Hippomane mancinella): The fruit is commonly known as “apple of death”, the fruit is said to be potentially lethal if eaten. The plant parts are known to have powerful toxins, most notably the sap which contains phorbol, a strong skin irritant.The smoke from burning the wood can cause blindness. Even a tiny amount can strip paint of parked cars too.
Suicide Tree (Cerbera odollam):In Kerala (India), alone it is thought to be responsible for around 50/year. The toxins obtained from plant are generally used for murder. The seeds inside the fruits are highly poisonous, contain the powerful alkaloid, cerberin, which is similar to digoxin in foxgloves. The toxin works by disrupting the heart’s rhythm often with fatal results.
Rosary Pea (Abrus precatorius): Rosary peas are native to tropical areas and commonly known as jequirity bean used in jewellery making. It is said that numerous jewellery makers have been made ill or died after accidentally pricking their fingers while working with the seeds. The seeds contain an extremely deadly ribosome-inhibiting protein.
Anabasis aphylla: Anabasin a bioactive compound isolated from Alzerian plant Anabasis aphylla, has psychoactive effect like scopolamine (truth serum) compounds. It induces speech ability thus called chatter plant.
White snakeroot (Ageratina altissima): White snakeroot is a highly poisonous plant, native to North America, also known as White Sanicle or Tall Boneset. The plant contains a toxin called tremetol which indirectly enters to the food chain via livestock to human beings after the consumption of contaminated milk and flesh. When the toxin enters to the body it causes milk sickness, which is highly fatal. For example, in 19th century in America, thousands of European settlers died from milk sickness. Another fatal incident was Abraham Lincoln’s mother’s death with milk sickness.
Strychnine tree (Strychnos nux-vomica): Strychnine tree is one of the most poisonous, attractive flowering shrub, also known as strychnine tree, nux vomica, poison nut, semen strychnos and quaker buttons, native to India, and southeast Asia.The small seeds are highly toxic, being filled with poisonous alkaloids named Strychnine and Brucine. One of the best examples of its toxic incident is: Queen Cleopatra famously forced servants to commit suicide by ingesting strychnine tree’s fruit seeds. An estimate says that 30 mg of these toxins are enough to be fatal to an adult, and lead to a painful death. The manifestations from violent convulsions due to simultaneous stimulation of sensory ganglia in the spine.
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna): Atropa belladonna, is herbaceous plant in the family Solanaceae, native to Europe, North Africa, Western Asia, commonly known as devils berries, death cherries or deadly nightshade. It contains tropane alkaloids, which cause delirium and hallucinations. The whole plant is considered a potent poison but the berries are most and play the greatest risk, as they are sweet and tend to attract children. The general symptoms of Belladonna poisoning include loss of voice, dry mouth, headaches, breathing difficulty and convulsions. The ancient Romans used it as a poison and to make poison-tipped arrows. The most popular murder incidents using belladonna poison are the wife of Emperor Augustus and the wife of Claudius both were rumored to have used it for murder.