5. Oleander (Nerium oleander)
The Italian name for oleander translates as ‘ass killer’, which should be enough to put anyone off eating them! If you did eat a sufficient does then you would start feeling those ‘ass killing’ effects almost straight away with a combination of cardiac and gastrointestinal symptoms. Bloody diarrhea, vomiting, drooling and irregular heartbeat may all occur and swift treatment is essential. Toxins such as cardiac glycosides, nerioside and oldendrin all contribute to oleander’s lethal armory.
4. Manchineel (Hippomane mancinella)
The manchineel is possibly the world’s most poisonous tree this is a plant to steer well clear of.
Whilst the fruit is said to be potentially lethal if eaten it is the tree itself that poses the greatest threat. Every part is stuffed full of powerful toxins, most notably the sap which contains phorbol, a strong skin irritant. Contact with the sap provokes strong allergic dermatitis resulting in blistering of the skin.
It is also reported that the smoke from burning the wood can cause blindness.
3. Suicide Tree (Cerbera odollam)
It is the seed inside the fruit of this plant that is highly poisonous. It contains the powerful alkaloid, cerberin, which is similar to digoxin in foxgloves. These both work by disrupting the heart’s rhythm often with fatal results.
2. Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
Lily of the valley can be found throughout Northern Europe and America where it is common in woodland. Despite its pretty appearance this plant is deadly poisonous containing no less than 38 different cardiac glycosides. Chief amongst these is convallatoxin which has a similar effect to digitalis in foxgloves. All parts of the plants are toxic including the orangey-red berries.
The symptoms of lily of the valley poisoning include severe headache, nausea, vomiting, slow heartbeat and excessive urination
1. Rosary Pea (Abrus precatorius)
The toxin is called abrin and there is little doubt that this is the most deadly plant poison known to man. Its effects are very similar to those of ricin.
Whilst the theoretical danger from a plant containing one of the most powerful toxins known to man is obvious this does not seem to have been borne out statistically. It is known that the seeds are relatively safe if swallowed whole as they will pass through the body protected by their tough coating. What is more surprising is the number of survivors who have chewed or ground up the seeds. Whilst some have di.ed as many have survived even though suffering severe gastrointestinal upsets. It is thought the reason for this is that the toxin abrin is only slowly absorbed into the body. So, given swift medical care, or just the body’s natural purgative actions it seems many can survive.
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