Killer Plants

Toxic plants are all around us. Now not all of them cause death. Some cause mild discomfort. Some cause major discomfort. Some will cause your relatives to gather together to mourn and send pretty flowers (some of which are toxic!). The picture at the left is Belladonna, also known as Devil's Berries, Death Cherries, or Deadly Nightshade.

The berries look so succulent and appealing, don't they? All parts of this plant are fatal if ingested. And there are a lot more plants that are harmful to humans and animals.

In fact, The Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco has an exhibit until October of this year called "Wicked Plants". It features poisonous plants and their place in history. For instance, a cow ate some snakeroot. A woman drank milk from that cow. "Milk sickness" was the result and that is how Abraham Lincoln's mother died.

The exhibit is based on a book written by Amy Stewart named "Wicked Plants". Some of the plants were easy to obtain, like tobacco, while others were impossible , like coca plants, which are not allowed by the government.

Ms. Stewart not only wrote the book, she felt like she should get to know the plants she was telling about. So she planted her own "deadly" garden. She has many of the plants there but she purposely left out some of the irritants like poison oak for obvious reasons.

If you would like a short list of common poisonous plants, here is a link. Many universities have their own list and research too.

Next week we go to Virginia.



  1. Remember your pic is a relative to tomatoes. There is a variety I think used for asthma medicine.Those purple berries stain soybeans when harvested.

  2. I have those growing on my deck, they are really pretty plants and the red berries in the fall are beautiful, too bad they're poisonous

  3. Bill, thanks for your comments. Tomatoes were at one time called love apples and were considered poisonous. The fruit is good but don't eat the leaves. Country Mouse, it sounds like you've got a start for your own "deadly" garden. Thanks for commenting.

  4. I checked out the link and learnt some interesting things...not much affect me as i don't have them in the garden or close by however i will now make sure I always trim my rhubarb perfectly...great article!!

  5. allotments4you, thanks for stopping by. I read about your garden often. Don't forget about the potato leaves. And remember that you live in another part of the world. These links don't fully cover the US much less the UK

  6. There is a long list of plants that are dangerous for horses, my daughter informed me as she has horses, it really surprised me Guess we all have to be careful.


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