The Lad inspired this post. He knows I love flowers, and saw an article and said it reminded him of me. After reading it, I didn't know whether to take it as a compliment or insult. He always tells me I'm pretty but deadly, or he'll tell people I'm a Penis Fly Trap!!!!! I apparently lure men in then suck them in?!?! That might be true, but deadly??? The article did surprise me though and fond it interesting. When it comes to nature, the general rule of thumb is this: The dangerous stuff looks scary, and the harmless stuff looks beautiful (or, at the very least, unassuming). So it might be a surprise, then, to learn that some plants and flowers in our own gardens—often beautiful, always unassuming—rank among the most dangerous things on the planet. Did you know about some of these?
Known for it's striking flowers in the summer, parts of the oleander plant contain cardiac glycosides that cause acute cardias toxicity and serve digestive issues.
White Snake Root
White snakeroot, is a poisonous herb found in North America that contains a toxic alcohol called tremetol. But just how poisonous is this ? Well, back when explorers were first settling Indiana and Ohio in the early 19th century, it’s estimated that up to half of their deaths—including that of Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln—were caused by indirectly ingesting white snakeroot.
If you know anything about water hemlock, then it’s likely that you’re familiar with the plant’s claim to fame: killing Socrates. According to the USDA, this contains the toxin cicutoxin, which, when ingested, acts directly on the central nervous system. In the most extreme cases, that could result in grand mal seizures and death.
Lily of the Valley
One of my favorites! This perennial outdoor ornamental herb, a popular staple of outdoor gardens everywhere, can actually be incredibly toxic. Its toxicity comes from the cardiac glycosides and saponins present in the plants, which can affect the heart if eaten. Lily of the valley is so toxic, in fact, that the CBIF notes cases where both people and animals have fallen ill by merely drinking water the was in.
The foxglove produces digoxin, an active ingredient in medications that prevent heart failure. According to the NCPC, by ingesting foxglove, you’re essentially “taking an unregulated dose of heart medicine,” which can, ironically, cause heart failure. As such, you should keep this plant far, far away from children and animals.
When it comes to dangerous plants in your backyard, wisteria is one of the worst ones there is. According to one case study from the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, the wisteria can cause headaches, gastroenteritis, hematemesis, dizziness, confusion, diaphoresis, and, frighteningly, syncopal episodes (or temporary drops in blood flow to the brain that result in a loss of consciousness and control of the muscles). These symptoms typically last for five to seven days after eating more than a few berries from the plant—if they don’t kill you.
If you seek help quickly, ingesting daffodils won’t kill you. However, according to the NCPC, ingestion can be fatal to small children and pets if left untreated. And while all parts of a daffodil contain the toxic chemical lycorine, it’s the oxalates—or toxic chemicals found in the plant’s bulb—that do the most damage to your body.
As far as the poisonous nature of the popular hydrangea is concerned, only the flower buds are truly harmful when ingested, according to the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility. If consumed, humans can experience an upset stomach, skin irritation, and, in more serious cases, convulsions and coma.
Just a few years ago, a gardener died after simply brushing up against a devil’s helmet . And believe it or not, the plant’s exterior isn’t even its most poisonous part. As poison expert John Robertson told BBC News, the most poisonous part of the plant is actually its roots, as ingestion of this specific part causes heart failure. Most fatalities occur within the first few hours.
Tulips might make your garden shine, but they also have the potential to poison your pet. According to the ASPCA, this is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses in its bulb especially, and symptoms of ingestion range from vomiting and diarrhea to hypersalivation.
Angel’s trumpet is a tropical known for its Bugle-shaped flowers. And while it’s aesthetically pleasing, the last thing you’d ever want to do is find out what it tastes like: As one 2008 case report published in Pediatrics & Child Health notes, ingestion can cause dangerous hallucinogenic symptoms like loss of consciousness and delirium.
The one I can be compared to, my favorite villain….As its name suggests, poison ivy is, well, poisonous. Found all over the United States, this contains a resin called urushiol that causes an epidermal allergic reaction characterized by redness, itching, and swelling. If the plant sets on fire and you inhale the smoke, it can also affect your breathing.
So maybe the Lad is right. Don't judge a book by it's cover. I won't lie, I may be pretty in the eyes, but can be deadly in the boudoir. You know, plants can be deadly if you eat it, but a kiss can be deadlier if you mean it. Coincidence then that Toxic used to be one of my favorite drag routines?