Toxic beauties: 7 of the most dangerous plants in the world

Very widespread on the shores of the Mediterranean and always pleasant to watch, the pink bay is yet a plant whose all parts are very toxic.

The very suspicious death of a British gardener in 2014, probably poisoned by one of the plants he cared for, has revived some concerns about the most dangerous flowers for man.


The plant called Aconitum Napellus produces flowers often referred to as “monk’s hoods” because of their shape, but also known as the “Poison Queen” or “Devil’s Helmet”.

In the case of this gardener, who died of multiple inadequacies, the poison slowed down his heart until he died. True to its reputation, Aconitum is still considered the most dangerous flower in the world.

According to a widespread theory, plant toxins have evolved as a defense mechanism. In some species, chemicals produced by plants to protect themselves from insects and micro-organisms can also be harmful to other animals. In the case of the Mantegazzi (Heracleum mantegazzianum), the phenomenon of phototoxicity is dangerous for human skin, which can suffer very severe and stubborn burns in reaction to the sun, after being in contact with this plant.

One of the species most apprehensive by connoisseurs, at all times, does not usurp his nickname of tree “the most dangerous of the world”. The mancenillier (Hippomane mancinella) is a small tree that grows from Florida to the north of the South American continent, passing through the Caribbean. Its danger to man is so important that his presence is marked with a red cross in certain areas. The milky substance produced by this tree is a very powerful irritant. It can create irreversible sequelae for the skin, also for an individual sheltering under its leaves during a tropical rain, because even diluted with water, this substance is very harmful. On the other hand, the smoke from a burning manchanger can cause a person’s temporary blindness, as well as severe respiratory problems.

As for the plants which it is strongly advised not to pass on its lips, a particular species dominates all the others, and has every reason to attract the mistrust of the tourists. Common Ricinus (Ricinus communis) is a popular shrub to add a touch of color to a garden with its pink to purple tones and palm-like leaves. Used to extract the famous castor oil, this plant produces seeds that contain a potentially explosive toxic cocktail. Castor can kill by disrupting the metabolism of cells, blocking the creation of proteins essential to our survival. This plant can cause vomiting and diarrhea for a week, before causing death.

The colchics are pale pink to purple lilac flowers that are appreciated every September, but also constitute an extremely violent poison. In addition to its odor that can cause nausea, it is a poison once ingested as it swells in the stomach and throat like a sponge, which causes suffocation and sensations often unsustainable. The root of this plant is particularly dangerous.

The Stramoine or Datura stramonium has long been considered a plant linked to black magic. Its hallucinogenic effects have earned it its nickname of grass to fools. Intoxication by this plant can often be accidental, as in a case of contamination of canned green beans by datura15, a honey created by bees that forgive this plant, but also in gardeners who are accidentally inhaled after burning Weeds. This can cause severe dryness of the mucous membranes, amnesia, mental confusion and the impression of strangeness persisting sometimes for several days. In France, about 15 cases were recorded in the hospitals of Rennes and Brest between 1974 and 1989, and in Poitiers between 1990 and 1992.

Widespread on the shores of the Mediterranean and always pleasant to watch, the oleander is a plant whose parts are very toxic. The ingestion of a single leaf can be fatal for children as an adult, because of the cardiac disorders it generates. In North Africa, it is often advised not to consume water from the streams in which oleander roots have been soaked. Herbivores may also be at risk after ingesting these leaves. An amount of 30-60 g of fresh leaves is potentially fatal to adult-sized cattle.

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