Plants may look beautiful and safe, but many of them can produce some of the most deadly poisons available. Although spines perform quite well to save them from attacks, some plants can even kill animals and humans with their dangerous chemicals. From killing Socrates with Hemlock poison to the accidental consumption of deadly nightshade by innocent youngsters, these dangerous plants have been causing human deaths for thousands of years. Here are the top 10 most dangerous plants that can easily be found in our surroundings.
1. Manchineel Tree
This is Florida’s poisonous tree that causes painful blisters when you stand under it during rain, makes you blind if the smoke from its burned wood gets into your eyes, can poison the water with its toxic leaves, and can kill if you ingest its fruit.
Found in Central America, the Caribbean, and the Florida Everglades, the Manchineel plant is one of those pleasant-looking species that is extremely harmful when eaten, touched, or even inhaled for long periods. This plant grows in the same environments as mangroves, so you can often see them near beaches. It is one of those deadliest plants in the world that can cause blisters if you just stand under it during rain.
Besides the apple-like fruit that grows on the tree, all the other parts of the manchineel plant are equally toxic. Eating the fruit, touching the trunk, or even breathing near the tree can be extremely harmful to your health. Due to these reasons, this beachy apple is more accurately named in Spanish as la manzanilla de la muerte meaning “the little apple of death”.
The manchineel plant is one of the 10 most dangerous plants in the world and contains a milky white sap that can harm your health in ways including skin irritation, rashes, loss of voice, coughing, etc. If ingested, this fruit can cause your throat to swell and become completely shut off, blisters in your mouth, and even gastrointestinal problems.
Initially, the apple-like fruit of the Manchineel plant tastes sweet, but the pain and distress it causes are hard to bear. Additionally, the smoke produced after burning its wood can damage your eyes. The sap is so toxic that it can even damage your car’s paint. (1, 2)
Native to Australia, this plant gives such unbearable pain that a person committed suicide to stop suffering from the misery. There is no antidote, and it can take months or years to get rid of the unimaginable pain caused by a slight touch.
Another dangerous plant out of the top 10 poisonous plants is the gympie-gympie, also called gympie stinger. In actuality, the leaves of the gympie-gympie plant are appealing and inviting because of their fuzzy and soft appearance. However, this appearance is far from the complete truth.
Gympie-gympie is one of the deadliest plants in the world that can cause a human to commit suicide. Just a slight touch of its leaves is enough to deliver unbearable pain that feels like someone has thrown a hot acid and electrocuted them at the same time. It has compelled a large number of people to commit suicide.
There is no antidote, and it can take months or even years to heal this unimaginable pain. The stinging bush got its name after the Australian town of Gympie, a gold-mining hub that settled in 1860. You can find it in the rainforests of northeast Australia and some parts of Indonesia.
The dreadfully painful toxin is delivered from the tiny, hairy filaments present on the plant’s leaves, stems, and appetizing-looking fruits. The tip of each filament contains a small bulb filled with a neurotoxin, which breaks off and sticks into the skin, causing unbearable pain.
An Australian ex-serviceman, Cyril Bromley, recounted his experience with the stinging tree when he was going through military training in World War II. He said that he spent three weeks in the hospital and went through numerous unsuccessful treatments. However, he survived anyway. Bromley knew an officer who shot himself dead after using the Gympie-Gympie leave as toilet paper. (1, 2)
3. The Sandbox Tree
The pumpkin-like fruit of this tree can explode with a loud banging sound when the seeds are fully matured. The shrapnel of this tree can dangerously injure any human or animal that happens to be in its way. The poisonous fruit can cause a number of health issues if ingested.
The sandbox tree is another plant among the world’s most poisonous plants. It is native to the tropical parts of South America and the Amazonian Rainforest. It is sometimes found in the tropical parts of North America, as well. They can’t grow in frost areas and need partial or full sun.
This dangerous tree has different male and female flowers. When the female flower is fertilized, it produces the pods which contain the tree’s explosion seeds. The fruit of this plant is similar to a pumpkin. But once the fruits dry into seed capsules, they act as ticking time bombs.
When the fruit of the sandbox tree is fully matured, it explodes with a loud banging sound. When exploded, the seedpod flings its hard, flattened seeds at the speed of up to 150 miles per hour and covers distances of about 60 feet.
The shrapnel of this tree can dangerously injure any animal or human that comes in its path. However, the sandbox tree is only dangerous when the seed explodes.
If ingested, the poisonous fruit of the sandbox tree can cause diarrhea, cramps, and vomiting. It is found that the sap of this tree causes an angry red rash, and if it gets in contact with your eyes, it can make you blind. For thousands of years, it has been used for making poison darts.
In addition, besides being extremely dangerous, some parts of the tree are also used for treatment or medicinal purposes. However, the treatments should only be prepared by experts and applied by healthcare professionals. (1, 2)
4. Wild Parsnip Plant
The sap of this plant can cause severe burns when activated by sunlight. It seriously damages the skin and deprives the person of any protection from the UV radiation from the sun.
Another pick from the world’s most poisonous plants is the wild parsnip. Wild parsnip, also known as “poison parsnip,” is a member of the carrot/parsley family. It is native to Europe and Asia but was brought to North America by European settlers.
It is commonly found from British Columbia to California and Ontario to Florida. Furthermore, it is found in almost all provinces of Canada, with Nunavut being an exception.
The leaves of wild parsnip have a dangerous sap containing chemicals known as “furanocoumarins.” These chemicals can damage your skin badly, making it vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation.
5. Nerium Oleander
Every part of this plant is extremely toxic. The plant releases two chemicals, oleandrin and nerine, that can cause death if you consume them from its leaves. It’s so dangerous that if you eat the honey made by the bee who consumed this plant, you can be poisoned by it as well.
Nerium oleander is among the top 10 deadliest plants, and each part of this plant is full of toxins. Two of the deadliest chemicals it releases include oleandrin and nerine. The poison of this plant is so injurious that consuming the honey made by bees who have ingested Nerium oleander can cause the death of the person.
Besides having a deadly nature, the plant is sometimes used for decorative purposes. The fragrance of this plant is extremely appealing, however, most animals stay away from it. It is also used at construction sites to prevent erosion.
It is one of those deadliest plants in the world that can poison animals as well as human beings. If ingested, oleander leaves can cause the death of a person. Although the poison remains deadly for the first 24 hours, the chances of survival increase significantly if the person survives for a few hours after its consumption.
To reduce the toxicity or treat the patient, the person is induced to vomit, their stomach is pumped, or they are fed activated charcoal to absorb as much poison as it possibly can. (source)