The World’s Deadliest Flowers
As we know here are Arena Flowers, blooms are often given as part of emotional gestures between humans. However, some blooms have a darker side. Many may be fooled by their aesthetically pleasing exterior and enchanting fragrance, yet their innocuous charm can hide a deadly secret. Here we count down, in reverse order, some of the flowery world’s deadliest blooms (top tip: don’t eat any of the flowers on this list, ever):
5. English Broom or Cytisus Scoparius
Effect on humans: Gastrointestinal distress
Time from ingestion until death: Slow and painful
The above flower is more commonly known as the English Broom. It is a perennial leguminous shrub, often found in both central and Western Europe. Do not be fooled by its pleasant exterior or friendly name.
The toxic substance in Cytisus Scoparius contains alkaloids that both slow down the heart rate and damage the nervous system. High doses of this unremarkable looking shrub will result in a series of unpleasant ailments. Signs that the plant’s poison has taken effect include an assortment of life-threatening reactions: nausea, vomiting, headaches, distress, confusion and stomach cramps are just a few of the day-ruining / life-ending symptoms that one might expect after an encounter with English Broom.
Effect on humans: Hypothermia
Deadly? Certain species
Time from ingestion until death: One to three days
This native perennial herb is more of a worry to animals than it is to humans but that doesn’t mean we recommend wolfing it down with abandon. Behind the numerous seeds, umbels, flowers and silky hairs lies an array of dangerous toxins, including alkaloids, cardenolides and latex.
Native hunters in Africa and South America often (carefully) use Milkwood’s milky sap to poison their arrows (as if arrows aren’t deadly enough already). Signs that the toxins have taken effect include profuse salivation, malcoordination, violent fits and vigorous bloating. From this list it seems to us that if you feel extremely hungover but haven’t had a drink perhaps you have milkwood poisoning.
3. Bloodroot or Sanguinaria Canadensis
Effect on humans: Kills human cells
Time from ingestion until death: Depends on the dosage
This alluring flower also goes under the name of Sanguinaria Canadensis. As this is quite a mouthful, many have adopted simpler names for the poisonous flower, such as Bloodroot (which should probably give the uninitiated some indication of the dangers that lurk within).
Being poisoned by this friendly-looking flower results in a variety of ugly and unsightly side effects. The poisoned will initially feel nauseous and will most likely then follow up on this nausea with violent emesis (AKA horrendous vomiting). Dizziness, severe exhaustion and visual disturbances are just a few of the other additional complaints victims can look forward to. Definitely not a good look for a date.
The plant contains a variety of toxic substances including morphine and sanguinarine. Both of these vicious substances have the ability to destroy cells when ingested in large quantities. Avoid!
2. Atropa Belladonna or Deadly Nightshade
Effect on humans: Hallucinations
Time from ingestion until death: Two hours
Most have heard of the deadly nightshade even if they have never come across it. Deadly nightshade is one of the most deadly of poisonous plants. Consumption of just ten berries can lead to death and the leaves are even more poisonous; eat just a single leaf and it could be game over for you.
There are many symptoms of deadly nightshade poisoning and those that eat either the leaves or the berries will more than likely experience dilated pupils, sensitivity to light, a slow or fast pulse (which must be confusing to diagnose), blurred vision and a loss of balance. And that’s just to get started.
As the poison begins to work its magic deeper into the body, the victim will begin to stagger, he or she will then experience an intense headache followed by a rash. Other symptoms include flushing, a dry mouth, urinary retention and slurred speech. The final stages of this toxin cause constipation and confusion. Eventually convulsions will begin to take place and if your letter to loved ones is not written by then it may be too late; deadly nightshade induced convulsions can wreak irreversible damage on the victim and indicate the end of the road for many.
Effect on humans: Paralysis
Time from ingestion until death: Less than 60 mins
Topping our deadly flowers countdown is Aconitum, a beautiful flower that fools many and which is the assassin’s plant of choice. Many unwittingly (idiotically?) grow this particular shrub in their greenhouses, gardens and conservatories despite the fact that its fragile looking petals contain one of the most deadly and unpleasant poisons known to man. Growing this in your conservatory is about as sensible as raising pitbull terriers in your child’s nursery.
Absorption of this monstrous plant’s toxin does not happen exclusively via oral ingestion; the Alkaloid toxin is also readily absorbed through contact with the skin, so best not to roll about in the flowers or sniff them too closely (or at all). If you do you might soon experience a burning sensation on your tongue, shortly followed by dizziness, a severe headache and vomiting. If you’re exposed to a high enough dose, you’ll then begin to experience the likes of limb paralysis and damaged nerves, plus an anaesthetic effect on the skin, convulsions and major circulation failure. Frankly the coma and almost certain death that would then follow sound like something of a relief after the preceding catalogue of unpleasantness.
That concludes our list of deadly flowers. If you would like to know which flowers you can eat, head to our “Top Ten Edible Flowers” post (just PLEASE do NOT confuse the two lists – we take no responsibility if you do!).