A favorite past time of many gardeners and non-gardeners alike is strolling through fields and forest paths of wild flowers. Speaking from experience, the effect of wading through hip-high fields of grass and flowers is very calming and uplifting. Unfortunately, as it is with most things… there are a few of these natural beauties that you will want to avoid due to their toxic and poisonous components.
Poisoning by Foxglove is most common in pets, livestock and children, as the plant has to be consumed to be toxic. All parts of this flower, including the water that any cut stalks sit in, are poisonous. It is also sometimes mistaken for the comfrey plant (which has similar bell-shaped flowers) and brewed as a tea, and the results can be fatal. Even in a dried state, all parts of this plant remain poisonous.
Symptoms: Stomach pain, nausea, violent vomiting, vertigo, muscular stiffness, fatigue, headache, pulse at first rapid and violent but soon weak and irregular, dilated pupils, dimness of vision, delirium.
Deadly Nightshade is one of the most toxic plants found in the Eastern Hemisphere, as the name suggests. All parts of the plant are extremely poisonous and any small bit consumed can be fatal. The berries are slightly sweet and attractive, creating a big threat for consumption by curious children. The consumption of two to five berries by a human adult is lethal in most instances. The root of the plant is generally the most toxic part and ingestion of a single leaf of the plant can be fatal to an adult.
Symptoms: Strange indescribable feelings of giddiness, yawning, staggering or falling while attempting to walk; dryness of mouth and throat, feeling of suffocation, swallowing difficult, face at first pale which later develops into a rash which extends to the body; pupils widely dilated; pulse, at first rapid and violent, later becomes irregular and faint.
All parts of the Yellow Jessamine, or Jasmine, plant contain are toxic and should not be consumed. The sap may cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals. Children, mistaking this flower for honeysuckle, have been poisoned by sucking the nectar from the flower.
Symptoms: Giddiness, nausea, paralysis of muscles of mouth and throat, indistinct speech, difficulty breathing, delirium.
Dolls Eyes, or Baneberry, contains toxins than can have an immediate sedative effect on human cardiac muscle. The berries are the most poisonous part of the plant, causing poisoning in curious children by eating the waxy, shiny red or white berries. Ingestion of the berries can lead to cardiac arrest and death. The berries are harmless to birds, the plant’s primary seed disperser, but are highly poisonous to rabbits. Dolls Eyes is related to a highly toxic plant genus which contains wolfbane and several varieties of monkshood.
Symptoms: Both the berries and the entire plant are considered poisonous to humans. The berries contain cardiogenic toxins which can have an immediate sedative effect on human cardiac muscle tissue, and are the most poisonous part of the plant. Ingestion of the berries can lead to cardiac arrest and death.
Larkspur, especially tall larkspur, is a significant cause of cattle poisoning on rangelands in the western United States. Larkspur is more common in high-elevation areas, and many ranchers delay moving cattle onto such ranges until late summer when the toxicity of the plants is reduced. Death can occur within a few hours of ingestion. All parts of the plant are toxic to humans, and simply touching the plant can cause skin irritation.
Symptoms: Ingestion leads to nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, muscular spasms. If fatal, death is usually due to respiratory collapse or cardiac arrest.