That help protect them from all the vicious animals out there that might want to eat them. In addition to stinging spikes and thorns, some plants are filled with deadly toxins that can make us violently ill or even kill us if we unwittingly ingest them. And, depending on where you live, some of these plants might even be growing in your own backyard, so it might be a good idea to learn a little bit more about them.
Here are most terrifying (and deadly) plants in the world.
Oleander (a.k.a The Jericho Rose)
Described as a beautiful plant with pretty flowers that range from white to deep pink, oleander is native to parts of Asia but is now commonly grown as an ornamental hedge in many parts of the world including North America; an odd trend considering that everything on the oleander plant contains lethal cardiac glycosides that can cause violent illness just from coming into contact with it.
The Italian name for oleander translates as ‘ass killer’, which you think would be enough to dissuade anyone from eating them, but if you do happen to be unfortunate enough to ingest the poisonous seeds from the plant, expect to start feeling those ‘ass killing’ effects almost immediately. Symptoms usually involve a combination of cardiac and gastrointestinal problems including bloody diarrhea, vomiting, salivating profusely, and irregular heart beat. If treatment isn’t administered swiftly, the effects on the central nervous system are made evident by symptoms such as drowsiness, muscle tremors, seizures, collapse, comas, and eventually death. Indeed, the oleander toxins are so strong that there have been reports of people getting sick after eating honey made by bees that visited the flowers. Fortunately, deaths resulting from oleander poisoning are rare, as the plant has a very bitter taste that most people would find highly unpalatable.
Water hemlock contains a toxin named cicutoxin, which is known for causing seizures if ingested. The toxin is found in all parts of the plant but is most highly concentrated in the roots, especially in the spring season. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, tremors, and confusion. The ultimate cause of death is usually respiratory failure or ventricular fibrillation and can occur mere hours after ingestion.
Manchineel (a.k.a. Little Apple of Death)
Bearing the fruits known as ‘little apples of death’, the manchineel is one tree you’ll certainly want to avoid getting anywhere near. It can be found off the coasts of Florida, as well as South and Central America and has a reputation for being one of the world’s most poisonous trees.
In addition to the deadly fruit that grows on its branches, nearly every part of this tree is loaded with powerful toxins, especially the sap which contains phorbol — a strong skin irritant. Coming in contact with the sap provokes strong allergic dermatitis resulting in a painful blistering of the skin. This can present a perilous risk during rainy weather when people might think it’s a good idea to seek shelter under the tree’s leaves only to end up getting sprinkled with drops that have mixed with the sap. It only takes a minuscule amount of sap to make the skin break out in blisters, which perhaps isn’t so surprising given that it’s been known to strip the paint off of cars. Smoke from burning manchineel wood has also been known to cause permanent blindness.
The tree’s toxic bounty certainly didn’t go unnoticed by indigenous groups either. The Carib natives were said to use the sap to coat the tips of their arrow heads, pour the leaves into the wells of their enemies to poison their water supply, and even subject some unfortunate victims to slow and excruciating torture by tying them to the trunk of the tree.