Wednesday, 10 February 2016

These Plants Can Kill You!

Photo: Jon Bunting
Recently I undertook the renovation of our barren balcony into a garden balcony and being a novice I thought it's wise to do some research. Among other information I was shocked to find that many of the plants we keep are extremely dangerous if consumed accidentally (if you have kids and pets wandering around!). So keep an eye for the below plants-

1. Oleander

It is one of the most commonly grown garden plants in the world (we have one too!). But is poisonous especially to animals such as dogs (when consumed in large quantity of course). Oleander sap can cause skin irritations, severe eye inflammation and irritation.

Photo: karen
2. Castor Bean

It is the most poisonous plant in the world (literally). Although not as common as oleander, castor bean plant is abundantly found in India. Yes, it is the source of castor oil but they are also the source of a water soluble toxin called ricin. Lethal dose in adults is considered to be four to eight seeds! But generally it is considered toxic only if seed is broken and chewed otherwise seed may pass intact through the digestive tract without releasing the toxin.

Photo: budak
3. Angel's trumpet

They have beautiful flowers that hang like bells and like oleander adorns our garden. Unfortunately the plant is not as angelic as it's seeds and leaves are especially dangerous causing hallucinogenic effects if consumed (not the good kind, more like terrifying).

Photo: Denish
4. Rosary Pea

Not technically a plant, but the seeds from this tree are so common in Kerala that as kids we used to play with it in temples (some of us still do). These seeds are used to make beads and have a bright red color with a single black spot. The poison contained in the plant (abrin) is very similar to the poison ricin, found in some other poisonous plants. There is one main difference between these poisons, and that is that abrin is about 32 times stronger than ricin!

Photo: Kristian Golding
5. Daffodils

Prized for their beauty, daffodils grow from bulbs that could be mistaken for an edible food, like an onion. The bulbs can also be toxic to other nearby plants, including roses, rice, and cabbages, inhibiting growth. For instance placing cut flowers in a vase alongside other flowers shortens the life of the latter. If bulb extracts come in contact with wounds, both central nervous and cardiac system may get effected.

Photo: John Flannery
6. Dumb Cane

It's a common shade-loving tropical household plant. With both children and pets, contact with dumb cane (typically from chewing) can cause a host of unpleasant symptoms, including intense numbing, oral irritation, excessive drooling, and localized swelling.

Photo: Forest and kim starr
7. Hydrangea

These popular blossoms contain small traces of cyanide. But don't uproot your plant just yet. It has to be ingested in huge quantities for effects to be fatal.

Photo: Peter Miller
8. Deadly Nightshade

Well it does have a better name- Belladonna (Italian for beautiful lady). Apparently drops prepared from the belladonna plant were used to dilate women's pupils, an effect considered to be attractive and seductive! The consumption of two to five berries by a human adult is probably lethal. It was used for making poison arrows in ancient times.

Photo: Peganum
House plants are very beneficial in our homes and lives. They not only purify our stale indoor air but also trap many pollutants. But like any other living beings plants have defense mechanisms against predators which could harm us or pets if not monitored properly. It doesn't mean we should not keep the above plants but do watch out. After all, we never know when an information like this may come handy...

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