Appearances can be deceptive, and this adage holds true for the flowers mentioned below. Have you ever thought that radiant and attractive flowers that delight you can carry lethal chemicals with fatal side-effects? Yes, it’s true. These poisonous flowers have the potential to harm you to the extent of numbing and paralyzing your brain and body, and sometimes even killing you. Read on to find out more.
Outer beauty can robe you of your senses, literally, and it holds absolutely true in case of Mountain Laurels. A native of eastern United States, the beautiful purple and white flowers of the Mountain Laurel have sweet smelling leaves and nectar, and appear to be gorgeous on the outside, but it may have the potential to kill you on the inside. The white flowers attract bees. However, coming in contact with the honey produced by the bees can cause low blood pressure, vomiting, cardiac arrests and convulsions eventually leading to death. Moreover, the toxic agent cytosine, which is mainly found in the red seeds, is considered to be poisonous for livestock.
The flower of Datura or ‘Dhatura’ as called in Hindi is rightly known as ‘devil’s trumpet’ or ‘white-thorned apple’ due to its toxic properties. All species of Datura are considered poisonous, especially their flowers and seeds. The flowers have been used as poison since centuries due to the presence of tropane alkaloids in it. There have been umpteen instances about intentional or accidental ingestion of Datura leading to death. In parts of India and Europe, Datura is a potent agent to commit suicide or murder. The flower has a drowsing and numbing effect; people suffer from convulsions and unpleasant hallucinations due to the toxin of the flowers. The poisonous effects are so severe that some places have even banned the cultivation of Datura. For instance, in Oklahoma, United States, it is illegal to grow Datura under state law due to its toxic effects.
Considered to be one of the most dangerous and poisonous flowers, ingesting Veratrum can cause rapid cardiac failure leading to death. It contains over 20 steroid alkaloids that can cause various health troubles ranging from breathing problems to cyclopia – wherein a fetus is born with only one eye in the centre. Its principal toxins can be poisonous for humans as well as animals. The symptoms of toxicity which can appear between 30 minutes to four hours, depending upon the quantity of ingestion, are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, seizures, cardiovascular effects, drop in the heartbeat rate and hypotension. The treatment can take anywhere between one to 10 days to show its effect. However, if prompt care and attention is not given to the patient, the toxicity can cause death.
Hemlock Water Dropwort
‘The most violently toxic plant’ in North America, Water Hemlock is the same flower which killed renowned Greek philosopher Socrates. The poison of the plant first numbed his legs and slowly crept up to his heart, eventually causing death. The wild large flower of Water Hemlock is sometimes confused with edible celery or parsnips. As it is infused with the deadly cicutoxin, eating flowers or roots can possibly have fatal symptoms as it contains poisonous chemicals – nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, painful convulsions, are some of the common symptoms before death. And those who are able to survive suffer from lasting tremors or amnesia.
As the name suggests, the flower Opium Poppy is used for the production of opium, a highly addictive narcotic drug. Opium latex, which is obtained from the opium poppy, contains around 12% of analgesic alkaloid morphine, which is later processed to prepare heroin and other synthetic opioids for illegal drug trade. The illegal drug heroin is a concentrated extract of opium. A native of Eurasia, Opium Poppy’s cultivation is restricted in North America due to its narcotic properties. Opium directly affects the nervous system by acting as sedative, mood elevator and pain suppressor. Traditionally, it is believed that many artists used to eat or smoke opium to stimulate and energize themselves. However, overdose of opium can prove to be fatal after suffering from symptoms like going into coma, stupor, slow breathing, respiratory or circulatory depression.
One of the popular flowers of the desert region, the Desert Rose or Adenium obesum is loved by most of us due to its striking, vivid pink and red blooms. In fact, some people even consider it to be sacred for its longevity and unique appearance. However, the flower grows in the wild in the African regions, and the tribes in the region use the sap and pollen of the flower as poison for the tips of their hunting arrows. After penetrating the skin, it can cause intoxication, and the immediate symptoms like dizziness, nausea and vomiting can be experienced within 12 to 36 hours of intoxication. The toxin extracted from Desert Rose is so poisonous that it can kill elephants within hours of striking with a poisonous arrow. The cattle and the camel herders also use the poison to kills the ticks, lice and similar parasites that are found on animals’ bodies.
Besides being highly poisonous to human beings, the various parts of the Daphne plant like flowers, bark, sap and berries are highly toxic to a wide range of domestic/pet animals. This is due to the presence of dephnin, a plant toxin that is mainly responsible for the toxicity of the plant. Coming in contact with the Daphne flower can cause dermatitis, skin irritation and itchiness. The ingestion of Daphne can cause drooling, vomiting, gastroenteritis, damage to kidneys, ulceration or blisters in mouth, esophagus or stomach and blood diarrhea. In severe cases, it can even cause the victim to go into coma or death.
Not among the species of lily, Calla Lily can be beautiful to look at but harmful when touched. Commonly spotted in parts of Asia, Europe and Northern America, Calla Lily contains olaxic acid in high amount especially when fresh, which makes it very toxic. One can experience hazardous effects including swelling of lips, tongue and throat, rashes, skin irritation and patchiness on coming in contact with the Calla Lily. According to the North Carolina state university, all its parts are poisonous due to the presence of oxalate crystals and eating any part raw can have the above mentioned side-effects. However, the leaves are edible after cooking.