Monday, May 15, 2017

Poisonous Flora A-Z




"One man's poison ivy is another man's spinach." - George Ade



April showers bring May flowers. So, this month I'll be focusing on . . . you guessed it, Flora.

Now, I'm a black thumb, through and through, with only the ability to keep cactus and bamboo alive for any length of time. Most other plants save themselves the long, gruesome death and just shrivel upon my looking at them. But, during this time of year, I can't help but dream cherry blossom dreams.

I imagine what it would've been like to stroll through botanical gardens and the iron and glass mammoth greenhouses of the Victorian era. Like the Royal Botanical Society Gardens at Regents Park or The Conservatory Garden of South Kensington. Plants and flowers were all the rage during that era, as a gardening boom took hold, giving birth to exotic and tropical wonderlands.

However, amongst the beauty and romance of the blooms and foliage, there are the poisonous plant species that lie in wait, like wolves in sheep's clothing ready to be plucked and used to add mystery and perhaps a method for murder in some dark tale. So, while I'm digging in the dirt this spring, I've listed, from A to Z, some poisonous flora for your darker side. Welcome to my garden of Bane!





Aconitum
Other names: aconite, monkshood, leopard's bane, mousebane, wolf’s bane, women's bane, devil's helmet, queen of all poisons, or blue rocket.
Poisonous effect: severe gastrointestinal upset, slowing of the heart rate is often the cause of death
Interesting fact: Hunters in the Aleutian Islands coated the heads of their harpoons with an extract of this to kill whales

Adenium
Other names: Desert Rose
Poisonous effect: nausea and vomiting, larger doses will result in a fatal heart attack

Angel’s Trumpet
Poisonous effect: ingestion can include paralysis, confusion, tachycardia, dry mouth, diarrhea, migraine headaches, visual and auditory hallucinations, and death

Anthurium
Other names: tailflower, flamingo flower, laceleaf
Poisonous effect: The sap is irritating to the skin and eyes

Azalea
Poisonous effect: low blood pressure and heart rate as well as irregular heart rhythm. Can be life threatening. Honey resulting from azaleas and rhododendrons have a slightly hallucinogenic and laxative effect, often called “Mad Honey”
Interesting fact: receiving a bouquet of azaleas or rhododendrons in a black vase was once a well-known death threat

Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade

Belladonna
Other names: Deadly Nightshade
Poisonous effect: dryness in the mouth, thirst, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, blurred vision from the dilated pupils, vomiting, excessive stimulation of the heart, drowsiness, slurred speech, hallucinations, confusion, disorientation, delirium, and agitation
Interesting facts:

Bloodroot
Other names: sweet slumber
Poisonous effect: causes drowsiness leading to a coma and death

Black cohosh
Other names: squaw root or papoose root
Poisonous effect: headaches and larger doses can lead to vertigo, impaired vision, pupillary dilatation, nausea, vomiting, and bradycardia, may cause delirium tremens and miscarriages.

Castor oil plant
Other names: Palm of Christ
Poisonous effect: stomach pain, dehydration and destroys the main internal organs and is more poisonous than cyanide

Cerbera Odollom
Other names: suicide tree
Poisonous effect: paralyzes the heart
Gloriosa

Crownvetch
Poisonous effect: can cause slow growth, paralysis, or even death

Daphne
Poisonous effect: Headaches, delirium, and convulsions

Datura
Other names: devil's trumpets (not to be confused with angel's trumpets), moonflowers, jimson weed, devil's weed, hell's bells, thorn-apple
Poisonous effect: dry mouth, thirst, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, warm flushed skin, dilated pupils, blurred vision, vomiting, urinary retention, tachycardia, drowsiness, slurred speech, auditory, visual or tactile hallucinations, confusion and disorientation, delirium, agitation and combative behavior, and in severe cases there may be hypertension, coma, and convulsions

Doll’s Eyes
Other names: White Baneberry
Poisonous effect: cardiac arrest and death 

Dracula’s flower
Other names: voodoo lily
Poisonous effect: releases an extremely pungent odor akin to rotting meat, all parts of plant are poisonous if ingested and touching the plant may result in skin irritation or an allergic reaction

Gloriosa Lily
Other names: flame lily, fire lily, glory lily, superb lily, climbing lily, creeping lily
Poisonous effect: nausea, vomiting, numbness, and tingling around the mouth, burning in the throat, abdominal pain, and bloody diarrhea, dehydration, respiratory depression, altered mental status, seizures, coma
Interesting facts: has been used as a means of committing suicide

Hemlock Water Dropwort
Poisonous effect: violent and painful convulsions, nausea, vomiting, cramps, muscle tremors, and death can occur within hours of ingesting

Henbane
Henbane
Other names: black henbane or stinking nightshade
Poisonous effect: dry mouth, thirst, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, warm flushed skin, dilated pupils, blurred vision, vomiting, urinary retention, tachycardia, drowsiness, slurred speech, auditory, visual or tactile hallucinations, confusion and disorientation, delirium, agitation and combative behavior, and in severe cases there may be hypertension, coma, and convulsions
Interesting facts: Henbane was historically used in combination with other plants, such as mandrake, deadly nightshade, and datura as an anesthetic, as well as for its psychoactive properties in "magic brews". The smell of the flowers can cause giddiness.


Horsenettle
Other names: radical weed, sand brier or briar, bull nettle, tread-softly, apple of Sodom, devil's tomato and wild tomato
Poisonous effect: fever, headache, scratchy throat, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, abdominal pain, circulatory and respiratory depression, or even death

Larkspur
Poisonous effect: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, muscular spasms, death is usually due to respiratory collapse or cardiac arrest


Lily of the Valley
Poisonous effect: abdominal pain, vomiting, reduced heart rate, blurred vision, drowsiness, and red skin rashes

Manchineel
Other names: poison guava
Poisonous effect: severe allergic reactions, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and seizures, smoke from this plant can cause blindness

Larkspur
Mandrake
Poisonous effect: dry mouth, thirst, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, warm flushed skin, dilated pupils, blurred vision, vomiting, urinary retention, tachycardia, drowsiness, slurred speech, auditory, visual or tactile hallucinations, confusion and disorientation, delirium, agitation and combative behavior, and in severe cases there may be hypertension, coma, and convulsions

Naked Lady
Other names: Amaryllis belladonna
Poisonous effect: gastrointestinal symptoms convulsions, cardiovascular collapse, multi-organ failure and blood clots forming in many places around the body, muscular weakness, and paralysis, respiratory arrest. The effects have been described as very similar to cholera leading to a slow, agonizing death but consciousness remains to the end.
Interesting facts: Murderer, Catherine Wilson, is thought to have used it to poison a number of victims in the 19th century

Oleander
Poisonous effect: nausea and vomiting, excess salivation, abdominal pain, diarrhea that may contain blood, irregular heart rate (racing heart then slows), skin pales due poor or irregular circulation, drowsiness, tremors or shaking of the muscles, seizures, collapse, and even coma that can lead to death

Opium(Poppy)
Poisonous effect: contain chemicals that suppress the nervous system and can cause death

Philodendrons
Poisonous effect: increased salivation, a sensation of burning of the mouth, swelling of the tongue, stomatitis, dysphagia, an inability to speak, and edema

Poinsettia
Poisonous effect: diarrhea and vomiting if eaten, Sap in the eye may cause temporary blindness

Poison Hemlock

Poison Hemlock
Other names: devil's bread or devil's porridge, poison parsley, spotted corobane, spotted hemlock, the killer
Poisonous effect: respiratory collapse and death
Interesting facts: The poison hemlock was a common ‘assassin’s choice’ in ancient Greece, and is believed to be responsible for the death of the philosopher Socrates

Pokeweed
Poisonous effect: death due to respiratory paralysis

Red Cherries (okay, so I know that this isn’t exactly a flower or plant, but I thought it was interesting enough to belong here anyway)
Poisonous effect: The fruit of cherries is not toxic but the cherry pits, damaged leaves, and pruned limbs of the tree do contain cyanide compounds

Veratrum
Poisonous effect: Rapid cardiac failure accompanied by a long list of other symptoms leading to death


Have you ever used poisonous plants or flowers in your stories to add mystery and/or used to murder one of your characters?  

Stay beautifully haunted!

♥ Shadow

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