Deadly Plants To Avoid

Here are three reasons to read this post…

  1. If you spend some time in the wild or if you have a garden, or you’ll want to Bug Out when the day comes, you’ll definitely want to know what to avoid.
  2. If you’re raising farm animals… they are always in danger of eating and dying because some of these plants. You may want to clear your pasture of these 8 plants.
  3. You have kids.

 Water Hemlock – Poison Parsnip

Water Hemlock

Let me tell you a short but real story that I happen to know… Just so you can understand and identify the exact symptoms:

“A few years ago, a 23-year-old man and his 39-year-old brother were foraging for wild ginseng in the midcoastal Maine woods. The younger man collected several plants growing in a swampy area and took three bites from the root of one plant. His brother took one bite of the same root. Within 30 minutes, the younger man vomited and began to have convulsions; they walked out of the woods, and approximately 30 minutes after the younger man became ill, they were able to telephone for emergency rescue services.

The Water Hemlock is the most poisonous plant in North America. Even a small mouthful can kill an adult.

It can be found alongside the more common, non-poisonous, water parsnip along creeks and wetlands.

The whole plant is poisonous, but the root is the deadliest. Usually cows are poisoned when they pull out the plant and eat the root. One root is enough to kill a cow. If you have this plant on your pasture you need to get rid of it.


Deadly Nightshade (Atropa Belladonna)

deadly nightshade

Belladonna (beautiful lady in Italian) was used in Venice by ladies in a tincture to dilate their pupils which was considered more attractive.  All parts of the plant are dangerous and can severely reduce mental capacity and agility as well as kill.

Deadly Nightshade’s berries are a serious danger for kids, the berries look edible and are pretty to look at.  They are sweet to taste and are at eye level for children. The berries are about the size off cherries and two to four berries is a fatal dose for a child. Ten to twenty are fatal for an adult

Belladonna has been used as a poison, dating back to the Roman emperor Claudius.  He was believed to have been poisoned with it in 68 AD.  Also the Scots are said to have destroyed the Danish army by leaving them tribute of barrels of beer, laced with nightshade.

The symptoms are a red face, dry mouth, dilated pupils and quickened pulse.  Later stages turn to heart arrhythmia, tremors, hallucinations, paranoia and cramping.

Castor Oil Plant

Castor Oil Plant

The plant  has glossy leaves and coarsely toothed segments.

Castor oil is used in many houses around the world and I have even taken some as a laxative but the seeds are dangerous.  They contain a toxin called ricin and ingestion can lead to throat and gastric system burning, a pain and bloody diarrhea and death.  The plant is also the Guinness holder of the fastest death.


It is a tropical plant and can easily grow as much as – 9 feet in one season.  The seeds that are our concern, grow high in the plant and probably easily out of reach of small children.  Removing the seeds from their pods can be challenging but an easy trick is to leave the seeds in a greenhouse over the winter months and the seed pods will explode by themselves.

Two seeds can kill one grownup.

White Snakeroot – Ageratina altissima

White Snakeroot

Abraham Lincoln’s mother died from this poisonous plant and there was a widespread case of infection through meat in the 19th century that as known as “milk sickness”.

“A week would pass before Nancy Hanks Lincoln, mother of Abraham Lincoln, succumbed to an illness that had plagued Midwestern frontier families in the 19th century. Records show that more than half of the deaths in Dubois County, Indiana, during this time could be attributed to one plant, white snakeroot. She died at the age of 34.” Source

This plant contains a toxin that manifests in trembling, vomiting, and seriously intestinal issues.  It I also know that even if you eat the meat or drink the milk of a cow that was grazing on White Snakeroot it can cause sickness or death!

White snakeroot is a herb usually about 3 feet tall. Round stemmed and branches with oval, oppositely pointing leaves. The leaves are 3 to 5 inches long and are sharply toothed on the edges. Each leaf has 3 main veins that are very visible on the underside.

White snakeroot is found in any kind of wood and forest and along streams in wooded areas in the US. In the prairie states or provinces it is not often found – except in the woods bordering streams.

Rosary Pea (Abrus Precatorius)

Rosary Pea

They are called rosary pea because the peas were used to make rosaries, which wasn’t a great idea.  The outside of the seed casing is indigestible and there are cases of the pods passing though the digestive tract without harming the person.  It contains the toxin abrin that leads to impaired protein syntheses and cell death when opened.

Strangely birds are unharmed by the poison, but apparently one seed is all that is needed to kill an adult.

People have made bracelets and necklaces from the red seeds, and there are in addition stories of people dying from having pricked their fingers while stringing them.

Pokeweed (Jekyll and Hyde Plant)


Similar to the rosary pea, this plant has berries that attract birds and are poisonous.  The plant grows around 6-8 feet tall with large leaves that have reddish stems at maturity.  But as you see from the picture, ripe berries and immature ones grow on the same branch/cluster.

All the parts of pokeweed are poisonous and they contain harmful chemicals.  As the plant grows and the berries and the rest of it grows it becomes more poisonous.


Wolfsbane Aconitum (Queen of all Poisons, Blue Rocket, Monkshood, Devils Helmet)

Wolfsbane Aconitum

This is an old plant that has been documented and used for centuries in plots and assassinations, and in warfare – to coat swords and arrows.

Some scholars say that Cleopatra was not killed by snake poison but by a mixture that included Wolfsbane.  Source.

Greeks poisoned the tips of their javelins before going to war.

Hemlock Conium –  Poison Hemlock (Different from Water Hemlock)

Hemlock - Conium

The little plant was used in the Greek world as an execution tool. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates died eating hemlock.

“Socrates was given the opportunity to suggest his own punishment and could probably have avoided death by recommending exile. Instead, the philosopher initially offered the sarcastic recommendation that he be rewarded for his actions. When pressed for a realistic punishment, he proposed that he be fined a modest sum of money. Faced with the two choices, the jury selected death for Socrates.”  Source

The philosopher was taken to the near-by jail where his sentence would be carried out. Athenian law prescribed death by drinking a cup of poison hemlock. Socrates would be his own executioner.

The plant attacks the muscular system when ingested and the connections between muscles.  You are paralyzed from the legs up and end up in “ascending muscular paralysis”.  Increasing muscular disruption till death occurs. Only around 6-9 leaves or even a smaller dose of the seeds would be enough.   It has small white or green flowers and compound leaves and it has large hollow roots.  It is often found in moist habitats like marshes or bodies of fresh water, and drainage ditches etc.

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