26 Of The World's Most Deadly Plants

Published 2 years ago on May 17, 2018
By Hugo

We know what you're thinking: Killer plants... really? Well, believe it or not, many plants contain harmful toxins that can prove fatal if digested.


So if you happen to get more in touch with nature, we highly recommend you avoid foraging when any of these plants are lurking nearby.

Here are 26 of the world's deadliest plants.

1. Angel's Trumpet


Sure, the name may sound angelic enough, but the symptoms associated with its digestion can be highly uncomfortable, and in some cases, fatal.

Members of the Solanaceae family, these ornate yellow plants are poisonous when ingested, and can induce symptoms that include diarrhea, migraines, and partial paralysis. 

2. Morning Glory 


While the Morning Glory plant is, in many ways, glorious on the eye, it contains LSA, the hallucinogen cousin to LSD.

Not only will consuming this plant make you a danger to yourself, but you'll also become increasingly erratic around others if you find yourself on a bad trip. Don't say you haven't been warned. 

3. Poison Oak


It's worth staying away from poison oak should you come across it as the slightest contact will leave a nasty rash on your hands and face.

Those that go one step further and eat the stuff will suffer severe gastrointestinal problems.

4. Pokeweed


Similar in appearance to blackcurrants, pokeweed is prevalent in the American south and is used in the local soul cuisine. 

Not cooked properly, however, and eating it can bring about convulsions, vomiting, and respiratory paralysis. 

5. Doll's Eyes


Though they may look like a prop from a 1970's horror movie, this plant is very much real and is native to eastern and northern North America.

Proving that looks aren't deceiving in the slightest, this freaky plant is toxic to the core. And while the sweet tasting berry may appear harmless when first consumed, it actually contains a carcinogenic toxin which can have a dangerous sedative effect on cardiac muscles. 

6. Moonseed


Another toxic plant native to eastern North America, these colorful berries can do some severe damage.

An offshoot of 11 species of woody vines and shrubs, moonseeds can cause paralysis if consumed in large enough doses.

7. English Yew


One of the world's most dangerous plants, the English Yew could have you thinking otherwise thanks to its prepossessing appearance.

However, every facet of the tree- including the red berries- are highly poisonous, and as there is no known antidote. Eating it could very well cost you your life. 

8. Oleander


Just one chew on this majestic flower can spawn a whole host of health scares, including nausea, vomiting, seizures, and severe cardiac irregularities.

As well as this, the honey spawned by the bees who've been in contact with it is slightly poisonous. 

9. Chokecherry


Known commonly as the wild cherry, chokecherry plants produce vast swathes of white flowers with small cherries growing between the oval leaves.

While they look relatively harmless, digesting them can cause damage to the respiratory system and, as the plant's name suggests, fatal asphyxiation.

10. Strychnine Tree


Go back far enough and you'll be fascinated to learn that Cleopatra tested the plant's effects on her servants when she was researching the best way to kill herself.

Upon witnessing the near-deadly symptoms, the likes of which saw her subjects vomit and experience severe convulsions, she opted against such a method. The plant is located in southeast Asia.   

11. Castor Bean Plant


Breaking Bad fans will be familiar with the ricin poison distilled from this castor bean plant. With beautiful red and green leaves, it looks sweet and harmless, but eating just one small bean can result in a near-instant death.

Fortunately for us, it only grows in tropical regions and eastern Africa, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be uber-careful on your travels there.

12. Water Hemlock


Deemed "The most violently toxic plant in North America",  water hemlock is sometimes mistaken with edible vegetables such as parsnips and celery but is packed with a deadly cicutoxin.

Found mainly in its roots, the cicutoxin sawns symptoms as painful as severe abdominal cramps, nausea, and even death. Those lucky enough to survive are typically afflicted with amnesia and longer-lasting tremors.

13. Tobacco


Unsurprisingly, no commercial-non food plant is grown more widley than tobacco. Its leaves contain three toxic components, alkaloids, nicotine, and anabasine- eaten raw, and digestion can prove fatal. 

Despite its cardiac poison, the nicotine extracted from tobacco is consumed by billions around the world and is, as you probably know, both psychoactive and addictive. It contributes to more than 5 million deaths per year. To many, you are looking at the most deadly plant in the world.

14. Rosary Pea


Rosary Pea plants contain abrin, a fatal ribosome-inhibiting protein. While these plants are often seen in jewelry and prayer rosaries owing to their pretty appearance, they can become poisonous if the seeds are scratched, broken, or chewed.

In fact, it only takes 3 micrograms of abrin to kill an adult, so it's of little surprise that a plethora of jewelry makers have been made ill or even died after accidentally pricking their fingers when dealing with the seeds. 

15. White Snakeroot


White snakeroot has a somewhat chequered past when you consider that it was responsible for the death of Abraham Lincoln’s mother, Nancy Hanks. A North American herb characterized by its flat-topped clusters, it contains a toxic alcohol called trematol.

Trematol is strong enough to kill humans without them even coming into direct contact with it. Nancy Hanks was fatally poisoned merely by drinking the milk of a cow who had grazed on the plant. Those unfortunate enough to contract "milk poisoning" will usually experience a loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, reddened tongue, and even death. 

Thankfully, farmers are more aware of this life-threatening hazard and try hard to remove the plant from their land.

16. Foxglove


Taking on the appearance of tubular bells, a foxglove's leaves are all poisonous and will lead to severe damage to the body.

Containing a host of steroid glycosides, these can cause irregular heartbeat and digestive troubles, which can prove fatal.

17. Daffodil


You're probably thinking we're playing a joke on you. But no, daffodils are not the innocent, summary fauna you think they are. While they are relatively harmless in comparison to the others on this list, their bulbs are surprisingly dangerous.

Indeed, the bulbs are poisonous and have been known to cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. The stems also cause headaches, vomiting, and in some cases, temporarily distorted vision.

18. Poinsettia


The latex in this alluring plant can cause acute allergic reactions to those already predisposed to allergies. While this isn't that alarming, the poinsettia plant can cause noticeable irritation to the skin and has been known to bring on diarrhea and vomiting if eaten.

Furthermore, if the sap comes into contact with the human eye, temporary blindness may occur. 

19. Giant hogweed


With pointy, razor-like leaves, a giant hogweed looks as scary as the toxins it contains. The sap is phototoxic, leading humans to experience severe skin inflammations if they make contact with it.

While the skin may intially appear mildly irritated, over the course of 48 hours, dark, blackish blisters become visible, and these can last for years, even with the aid of treatment. 

20. Mother of millions 


This plant gets its name due to the overlapping nature of its leaves, and contains bufadienolide cardiac glycosides, which can cause cardiac poisoning.

This is also likely to occur in grazing animals. One event during 1997, saw 125 cattle die in a traveling stock reserve in Australia after the animals came across the plants.

21. Rhododendron


Once native to Nepal, it is also the country's national flower but has been introduced to most parts of the world in recent years. As well as being known for its assortment of colors, this plant contains some harmful toxins called andromedotoxin, grayanotoxin, rhodotoxin, and acetylandromedol.

While this is a worry for humans who'd have the great misfortune of digesting such a plant, it is animals who are often most at risk of illness from it.

22. Manchineel


Southern North America and northern South America are where you'll find the manchineel, one of the most poisonous plants known to humans.

Its sap holds the irritant phorbol, while smoke from a burning Manchineel has been known to cause blindness in humans. Most alarmingly of all, the plant has apples growing on it, and these happen to be the most dangerous and toxic part of the plant. It's little wonder the Spanish have nicknamed this dangerously deceiving plant, “little apple of death.”

23. Suicide Tree


As the name implies, this tree is no laughing matter. In fact, it's thought to be responsible for more deaths than any other plant. Being one of the most poisonous plants in India, the suicide tree is usually found in coastal salt swamps and verdant, hilly areas.

In the Indian state of Kerala, which has become a popular tourist area in recent years due to its exotic location, the plant is estimated to have led to around 50 deaths a year due to its toxic components.

24. Gympie Gympie


Ubiquitous to the rainforests in north-eastern Australia, the Moluccas, and Indonesia, the Gympie Gympie produces a sting like no other. While it may look like a harmless nestle, its stinging, pointy needles contain a potent neurotoxin.

Not only is the pain unimaginable, but the itching is reportedly so intense it is thought to have killed dogs and horses, while humans have experienced profound sars and bleeding.

25. Bleeding Tooth Fungus

Shutterstock/ ressormat

Though it may look like the remnants of a discarded alien's brain, this oddly-shaped plant is known as a bleeding tooth fungus, owing to its red, blood-like dots and pink surface area that bears a resemblance to the human gum.

Common in the Pacific northwest of America, this fungus isn't dangerous at all, but as it looks so ghastly, we thought we'd include it anyway. It's truly gross, and oddly beautiful at the same time. Nature, ey? 

26. Venus Flytrap

The Dionaea muscipula or Venus Flytrap, quite literally traps its prey before gobbling it whole. While humans needn't be afraid of these alluring yet dangerous plants, for insects and fauna of a smaller disposition, these plants often prove fatal.

Triggered by tiny hairs on its surface, the plant responds by quickly shutting its sides, and thus rendering the victim motionless. The carnivorous plant is typically found in the subtropical wetlands of North Carolina and South Carolina, America. 

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