Ever heard of the manchineel tree? Well, if you haven’t you should, so that the next time you are walking along the beach in the Caribbean or the Americas, you don’t fall for its cute looking apple-like fruits because you will definitely die. Burning the plant is also dangerous because the smoke irritates the eyes and can even cause blindness. The sap causes the skin to swell and blister and if you touch it, you might have to forget the use of your hand for some time. Well, the Manchineel may be the most dangerous plant in the world but it is not the only one. While practising all those online gardening tips you need to check for these ten plants because they have dangerous defence mechanisms that might cause serious injuries and even death which is why you should avoid them the next time you are in the wild.
Don’t let the cute name fool you, this is one of the most dangerous plants to touch. Its sap contains a common irritant known as urushiol which, if you come into contact with high quantities of it you can have severe itching and rash that could last for months. The condition is called contact dermatitis and it can be really severe which is why you should never touch any ivy when in the wild. You should also be careful when removing clothing you wore around these plants and also wash tools and clothing thoroughly because the irritants may linger for a long time. It is native to North America and its effects often wear off naturally after some time.
Some people call it the Gympie-gympie while others call it the suicide plant. You might hear Salat in Papua New Guinea or other names for it in remote Indonesia. Once you hear gympie, just keep your hands off because pain and death are around the corner. Touching the plant can result in an allergic reaction that causes people to feel a stinging and burning pain that could last for years. Even animals go mad from pain when they touch the plant and might jump to their deaths which is why it is called the suicide plant.
This is another plant found in the poison Ivy family that could cause you rashes and blisters for weeks if you handle the leaves without protection. Every part of the leaf actually contains the dangerous oil urushiol just like poison ivy.
Cashew nuts do taste great and they do make one of the healthiest snacks on the planet but their processing is marred in controversy. The cashew nuts that reach our shelves are extracted by machine or hand from a tough shell that contains urushiol just like poison ivy and poison oak. Most people that work in the processing plants in poor countries such as Ivory Coast and India have severe burns on their hands and most of them are irreversible. Although the cashews are roasted or cooked to remove the urushiol, the people that extract them from shells come into contact with the toxin. Every part of the cashew tree contains urushiol so you should try to avoid contact with its sap as much as possible.
It is also called wolfbane, so you might have heard about it in movies and history books. It was used by Romans and Greeks to poison arrows that were often used to hunt wolves and anything else that needed killing. The plant contains neurotoxins from the leaves to the roots which may cause cardiac arrest and organ failure when they enter your body. The most toxic part of monkshood is the root but the leaves and other parts can also cause poisoning. Their cute flowers that look like hoodies may entice someone to touch it to their deaths.
Known as Britain’s deadliest plant, this weed is so toxic that it is illegal to plant it in the open garden in Britain. The plant grows on both sides of the Atlantic and coming into contact with it can be very painful. The sap causes the skin to blister and swell and the symptoms only get worse when skin that has touched hogweed leaves or stem comes into contact with sunlight. When the sap comes into contact with your blood, it can kill you very quickly which is why all types of hogweed are to be handled with care. Hogweed still produces very beautiful white flowers which could fool people, especially children into touching it.
This one doesn’t kill so often but there was a recorded case in New Zealand in 1961 when a boy that was stung by too many of these things died from the poisoning by the neurotoxins they inject. The plant’s leaves are covered with hairs that have pointy ends like small needles. When they come into contact with skin, they inject the toxin causing itching, pain, swelling and soreness that may not go away for a long time depending on the species.
The Teddy Bear Cholla
This one will not kill you, unless you fall into one bush and bleed to death of course but touching this cactus might put you in the ER because you may need surgery to remove its glass-like thorns. The thorns are sharp and glass-like with backwards-pointing extensions that cause the thorns to pierce into the skin and become impossible to pull out. They are so sharp, that they may even cut through regular gardening gloves.
This one is in the same family as poison oak and poison ivy so you want to keep stay as far away from the plant’s sap as possible. The leaves also contain the toxic oil urushiol in their leaves which start itching and stinging upon contact with skin. You can identify them by their green berries but they often grow in wetlands and therefore rarely come into contact with people.
Also called Cypress spurge, this plant is one of the deadliest in the world. It contains a milky sap that can cause blindness if it comes into contact with the eyes. The milk is also believed to cause cancer. The worst part is that mere contact with the skin can cause itching, pain and rashes that don’t go away for weeks.