Ricinus communis – Castor oil plant

Ricinus communis - Southern MexicoRicinus communis - Botanic Garden (Frankfurt, Germany)Ricinus communis - Venezuela
 
 
 
 
 
Ricinus communis - Castor oil plant (1)Ricinus communis - Castor oil plant (2)

Ricinus communis – Castor oil plant

Ricinus communis – It probably comes from the north of Africa. It is a 10-meter tall plant that enjoys great popularity in gardening.

  • Deadly dose: 15 – 20 seeds
  • Death: to 1 week
  • Poison: ricin
  • Aftermath: renal, liver and spleen failure
  • Where it grows: in all tropical and subtropical areas of the world
  • Occurrence in Poland: artificially bred

The most dangerous are the bars of its seeds, about 6,000 times more aggressive than cyanide. Causes agglutination of red blood cells and damages the liver, kidneys and spleen. The first symptoms are similar to a cold, followed by headaches, mouth burning, vomiting and internal bleeding. It gradually attacks the entire human circulatory system.

History of the plant:
Castor oil is squeezed from the seeds, from which soap, ointments, drops or perfumes are made. Apparently Cleopatra applied it to her eyes to have a “wider perspective”. In 1978, a Bulgarian secret interview was used to murder the writer and journalist Georgie Markov, who after several days of the fight for his life died of kidney failure in a London hospital.

Colchicum autumnale – Protected and very poisonous

Colchicum autumnale - Jena, Germany (16-09-2007)Colchicum autumnale (1)Colchicum autumnale (2)Colchicum autumnale (3)

Colchicum autumnale – Protected and very poisonous

Colchicum autumnale – It belongs to protected as well as very poisonous plants.

  • Deadly dose: 20 – 40 mg (5 – 10 seeds)
  • Death: to 4 days
  • Poison: colchicine
  • Aftermath: paralysis, pulmonary edema, renal failure
  • Where it grows: Southern and Western Europe
  • Occurrence in Poland: yes

One flower contains more than 20 alkaloids, the most dangerous of which is colchicine and its derivatives. Thanks to the appropriate dosage, they can be used for treatments of cancers. Medicinal products for rheumatism, ascites and kidney diseases are produced from wintering seeds. However, if you carelessly handle (for example when confusing with wild garlic leaves), poisoning may occur. Fowl and goat’s milk may also be dangerous. The first symptoms of taking harmful substances appear after 2 – 6 hours after ingestion. At the beginning you can observe mouth burning, vomiting or cramps. Without proper help, a man can die.

Abrus precatorius – Originates from tropical Asia

Abrus precatorius - Leaves and pods, Northern Buton Island, IndonesiaAbrus precatorius - Kohler's Medicinal plantsAbrus precatorius - Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Ho Chi Minh City, VietnamAbrus precatorius (pods)

Abrus precatorius – Originates from tropical Asia

Abrus precatorius – The climbing plant originates from tropical Asia, it is used for the production of rosaries and jewelry.

  • Deadly dose: 3 µg of poison
  • Death: within 3 – 4 days
  • Poison: abrin
  • Aftermath: vomiting, bloody diarrhea, hallucinations, renal, liver and spleen paresis
  • Where it grows: Asia, Africa and America
  • Occurrence in Poland: no

The plant is not poisonous in its entirety, the leaves and roots are edible. The most devious are seeds that contain abrin. A small dose of a substance is enough to kill a person, and the first symptoms will appear after a few hours – problems with breathing, fever, vomiting or severe sweating. Finally, the respiratory system is completely destroyed. Asians are drinking a decoction of the root and leaves as cough and runny nosemedicine.

Conium maculatum – Related to carrots, parsley, caraway

Conium maculatum (1)Conium maculatum (2)Conium maculatum - Germany, 1910

Conium maculatum – Related to carrots, parsley, caraway

Conium maculatum – Plant related with carrots, parsley and caraway seeds. Its main weapon is the violent poison of the coniine, which causes the man to suffocate with full consciousness.

  • Deadly dose: 0,15 g (contained in 20g of the plant)
  • Death: within 2 – 3 days
  • Poison: coniine
  • Aftermath: strangulation through muscle paralysis
  • Where it grows: Europe, Africa and Asia
  • Occurrence in Poland: yes

Coniine easily penetrates the skin and respiratory system. However, the biggest danger is an easy mistake with the vegetable. At first, the poison has a stimulating effect and then starts blocking the spinal cord’s commands. In this way, muscle paralysis and strangulation occur.

History of the plant:
In ancient Greece and Rome often used during the execution. It enjoyed great popularity among the poisoners (allegedly, Socrates was executed with its help). In Europe, it appeared in the Middle Ages, and gradually disappeared during the 20th century. In the meadows and along roads, it began to grow massively in the 80’s.

Cicuta virosa – It is 150 centimeters high

Cicuta virosa - Oulu, Finland (18.07.2013)Cicuta virosa (1)Cicuta virosa (2)

Cicuta virosa – It is 150 centimeters high

The highest concentration of toxic substances is found in its rhizome.

  • Deadly dose: 2g root
  • Death: within 24 hours
  • Poison: cicutoxin
  • Aftermath: degeneration of skeletal muscles
  • Where it grows: North and South America, Europe, Asia
  • Occurrence in Poland: yes

In North America it has hundreds of poisoned sheep per year on its conscience. People can mistake its root with the parsley root, and the most common victims of harmful substances are children. Cicutoxin works very quickly, after just a few minutes you can observe irritations of mucous membranes and abdominal pain. If a man survives poisoning, it is very likely that he will struggle with damage to the central nervous system for the rest of his life. Unlike other animals, mice can without fear of poisoning eat plant seeds.

Datura stramonium – Weed appearing on fertile soils

Datura stramonium (1)Datura stramonium (2)Datura stramonium (3)Datura stramonium (4)

Datura stramonium – Weed appearing on fertile soils

Datura stramonium – It is a weed appearing on fertile soils. It is an instant poison.

  • Deadly dose: 10 – 12 leaves
  • Death: 1 – 2 days
  • Poison: atropine, scopolamine
  • Aftermath: heart failure, fever, muscle paralysis
  • Where it grows: all over the world
  • Occurrence in Poland: yes

Used both in Europe and in the New World because of the hallucinogenic and medicinal action. It was an important ingredient in the charlatanists mixtures. In India, it is considered a strong aphrodisiac – it was claimed that deprived women of shame. Alkaloids, especially in veins and petioles, tend to increase motility, arousal and cause anxiety. Then there is weakness, narcotic sleep and exhaustion. In some Indian tribes, datura is one of saint hallucinogens and is of great importance in the rituals of initiation. It also serves as anesthesia during surgery.

Oleander – Nerium oleander

Oleander - Nerium oleander (1)Oleander - Nerium oleander (2)Oleander - Nerium oleander (3)

Oleander – Nerium oleander

Oleander – Nerium oleander – This beautifully blooming shrub belongs to the most common plants not only in the countries of the Mediterranean.

  • Deadly dose: 2 leaves
  • Death: in few hours
  • Poison: oleander
  • Aftermath: cardiac arrhythmia
  • Where it grows: from the Mediterranean, through North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, to southern Asia
  • Occurrence in Poland: artificially bred

In order to say goodbye to your life, it’s enough to chew on one leaf. The honey obtained from oleander flowers may also be toxic. The first signs of intoxication include vomiting, fever and dizziness. The substance directly attacks the heart and increases muscle tone.

History of the plant:
Together with Conium maculatum was the most popular medieval poison. It was used as a means to control rats and mice. In the past, many people lost their lives because they roasted meat on oleander branches.

Atropa belladonna – Most dangerous in Central Europe

Atropa belladonna - Botanic Garden - Leipzig, GermanyAtropa belladonna (2)Atropa belladonna (3)Atropa belladonna (4)

Atropa belladonna – Most dangerous in Central Europe

Atropa belladonna – This plant is considered the most dangerous in Central Europe. Its all parts are very toxic.

  • Deadly dose: 10 – 12 fruits
  • Death: in few hours
  • Poison: atropine, hyoscyamine
  • Aftermath: nervous system and heart rate weakness, stopping breathing
  • Where it grows: most of Europe, some places in Africa and Asia
  • Occurrence in Poland: yes

The big danger lies in the fact that its shiny fruits can be easily confused with edible forest fruits. Man can poison not only through direct consumption, but also through goat’s milk or meat, if animal earlier ate it. Typical symptoms of poisoning are dilated pupils, an accelerated pulse or redness on the face. There may also be hallucinations and loss of consciousness.

History of the plant:
Atropa belladonna was a component of shampoo drinks and ointments, because after applying to the skin it caused hallucinations – a man seemed to be able to fly.
In ancient Rome, the wives of Emperor Augustus and Claudius poisoned them with a shout. Medieval women applied drops of juice to their eyes. It was to guarantee them beautiful, large eyes. In this way, they risked not only conjunctivitis and eye deterioration, but death as well. Atropine in eye tests doctors are using today.

Aconitum napellus – One of the most poisonous plants

Aconitum napellusAconitum napellus (2)Aconitum napellus (3)

Aconitum napellus – One of the most poisonous plants

Aconitum napellus – One of the most poisonous plants.

  • Deadly dose: 3 – 5 mg
  • Death: in few hours
  • Poison: aconitine
  • Aftermath: heart and respiratory paralysis
  • Where it grows: in Western Europe and eastern North America
  • Occurrence in Poland: yes

All parts of this dark blue plant contain aconitine. The flower should not be touched (the poison is so strong that it can penetrate the body by applying a leaf to the skin). Poisoning does not occur often, mostly because the man has mistaken the root of the plant with horseradish or other root vegetables. Ingestion causes mouth burning, salivation, vomiting and fluctuations in blood pressure. In medicine, a tuber of aconite is used that reduces temperature in limited doses.

History of the plant:
In the Middle Ages it was used to poison swords and arrowheads. Teutons used venom during magical shamanic rituals, it was also a component of fairy ointments.

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