15 Of The Most Poisonous Plants And Fungi The World Has To Offer
Nature is our friend, right? Our planet’s flora and the animals that we haven’t domesticated into oblivion love having humans around, correct? The human race is not a parasite when it comes to the ongoing health of Earth, we all agree? Well, despite our spotless and perfect record with the other wildlife of our pale blue dot, there’s a lot on this little marble that is still more than happy to quickly end the life of an unwitting Homo sapiens. Some of these make their danger pretty clear, like a charging grizzly bear or hippopotamus. Others, however, don’t telegraph their lethality so bluntly. For example, plants and fungi, which are perfectly happy to chill and act like they couldn’t easily send an adult human to an early grave.
Here’s 15 unassuming plants and fungi that can tear apart a family with a nibble or two.
Plato was famously killed with poison hemlock, a close relative of water hemlock. When you’ve got one of the world’s great philosophers on your killfeed, that’ll quickly enter you into the annals of plant assassins. Water hemlock is similar to poison hemlock, except MORE poisonous. Small amounts can cause death, and even if you do survive, you can have lasting effects, like amnesia. Which is particularly evil, that two weeks later you could be like “oh, tasty-looking plant” and do the whole thing over.
A favorite poison of dramatic types, deadly nightshade is what a theater kid would use to commit murder. The plant very rudely has tasty-looking little berries all over it that might entice children or someone trying to show off on a camping trip, but causes paralysis of the muscles, most notably the heart. It paralyzes the HEART? This thing really is the bad high school poetry of poisons.
Disappointingly, White Snakeroot has nothing to do with the middling hair metal band. It’s a poisonous if pretty weed that has a history of poisoning humans in the second degree. Though it doesn’t look particularly edible to humans, it very much does to cows, who would eat the plant and pass the poison on through their milk, making those who drank it extremely ill. This was known for a time as “milk poisoning” which sounds like something that would sideline the McPoyles from Always Sunny.
Speaking of beloved television shows, the unassuming castor bean became a national star thanks to its use by bald icon and dumb hat owner Walter White on Breaking Bad. The plant’s seeds are coated in, and please read this in your best Bryan Cranston voice, ricin. Ricin can cause a ugly death including vomiting and internal bleeding.
Related: Rowan Atkinson Can't Escape Mr. Bean
First of all, I think naming an incredibly poisonous plant a “pea” is asking for trouble. The same with castor beans. Peas are very good in fried rice, and beans are, after all, the magical fruit. They should be called, like, “no-nos” or “death pods” or something. These pretty lil’ peas contain abrin, which can kill a human with a dose of 3 MICROGRAMS.
This Hogwarts Professor ass sounding plant is widely considered the most poisonous in the world. It may look pretty, but it’s not only full of poison, but MULTIPLE poisons, causing everything from intense stomach pain to dizziness. It’s so toxic that even animals know not to f**k with it. Man, can you imagine how lame it would be to die from something called “Oleander?” It would be like having a heart attack during the SATs.
Another highly poisonous plant that has no business having a name this jaunty, ingesting jimson weed can cause seizures and hallucinations (very much not the cool kind.) Luckily enough, this isn’t one you’re likely to underestimate, as the jimson weed plant looks like anything but a snack. It looks more like it belongs in Pokemon than in anyone’s stomach.
The world’s worst fruit to eat, behind maybe the one bad clementine that comes in every bag, munching on the product of the manchineel tree can cause your throat to swell shut. The tree is so chock-full of toxins that effects can be felt even from sawdust or smoke coming from the tree, and rain runoff from the manchineel tree can irritate the skin and damage automobile paint. F-tier smoothie ingredient.
Aconite is a toxic plant that is also the owner of perhaps the most badass collection of common names so far. It’s known as “devil’s helmet”, “wolfsbane”, and, no joke, “queen of poisons.” The plant is visually gorgeous but a nightmare in the tactile sense, able to cause numbness and even heart problems through touch.
Crossing over into the world of mycology, there are plenty of deeply dangerous fungi to consider. These can be even more dangerous, since foraging for mushrooms is a beloved pastime of dudes who wear those five-fingered shoes. I figured I could use this entry as a bit of a transition because of course the death cap mushroom is poisonous. It’s called the death cap. It’s full of toxins that can survive cooking and have a 50% fatality rate.
Ah, webs and fungus, two components of a creepy basement, finally together! Webcaps are full of orellanin, which is a poison that will sit latent for an honestly rude period of time before kicking in and causing kidney failure and possibly, death.
Ok, wolfsbane has just been dethroned in the cool name category. Describing a group of all-white mushrooms from the Amanita family, eating these can cause symptoms including convulsions, kidney and liver failure, and diarrhea. Honestly, pretty much everything on this list causes diarrhea. Seems like it’s just kind of a “panic mode” thing for your body. One final disgrace.
Poison Fire Coral
The only mushroom on this list that you would truly have to have been solidly kicked by a horse to believe was edible, this fungi is named for its flame-red, spiky appearance. Basically the universal indicators of “POISON INSIDE.” This one has some particularly gross symptoms as well, including peeling skin and hair loss. Dying is one thing. But dying bald? Rude.
In bad news for the guy who lived down the hall in your freshman dorm, this mushroom looks very similar to psilocybin, or “magic” mushrooms. However, if you decide to eat some of Conocybe filaris, the only trip you’re going on is to the hospital! To possibly die of liver and kidney failure! Bazinga!
Despite its allegiance with the undisputed best season, this fungi is nowhere near as peaceful as a thick-knit cardigan, a cup of chamomile tea, and a cozy bay window. Its other nickname, “funeral bells” is a little more fitting. Though, if you do ingest it, you might be on the search for a warm sweater, since its toxins can actually cause hypothermia. Also liver failure, but that one’s pretty boring by now. Hypothermia, though? Spooky!
That sums it up for 15 of the worst pieces of nature you can possibly put in your mouth. Also, hello to any jilted lovers who have discovered this article through googling things like “plant poison undetectable??” Please note this article is purely for the purposes of scientific curiosity.