These 10 Plants & Mushrooms Could Kill You

As you plant your garden, or take your daily walk, you may not realize that you could be interacting with some lethal vegetation. Here’s a guide to 10 plants that could actually kill you.

1. Death Cap

This mushroom (seen above) may look innocuous, but one cap has enough toxin to kill you. Donna Davis was strolling in a Northern California forest in 2014 when she found these mushrooms and took them home to make a delicious soup; around six hours later she was rushed to the hospital, unconscious. She survived, but in the same year, two other people died from ingesting this mushroom. Apparently the shroom snuck into California from Europe in the 1930s on the roots of a decorative shrub, and now it’s proving hard to stop.


Photo Credit: thinkstock

2. Deadly Nightshade

This flowering plant, also known as Atropa Belladonna, is native to Europe and can grow up to ten feet tall. Everything about this plant is bad news, but the shiny black berries are the most poisonous. The words “bella donna” translate to “beautiful woman” in English, and the speculation is that this may have come from the use of belladonna to dilate the eyes, supposedly to make a woman more attractive to men. However, the nightshade family also includes some common food plants like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and chili peppers. The foliage of these plants contains toxins, so humans and pets should avoid consuming them.


Photo Credit: thinkstock

3. Hemlock

This plant has nothing to do with the coniferous eastern hemlock tree. Poison hemlock is instead a flowering plant that can grow up to ten feet tall, and every part of the hemlock plant contains poison alkaloids known as conium. If ingested, conium will cause vomiting, stomach pains, and a gradual paralysis of the central nervous system. It’s a horrible way to die since the victim is gradually unable to move but the mind remains alert until the last moment before death.


Photo Credit: thinkstock

4.  Oleander

This flower may look pretty and inviting, but the reality is that oleander is one of the most toxic garden plants in the world, even though it is also one of the most commonly grown garden plants. Eating any part of this plant can be deadly and yet, while the plant’s use as a poison is well-known, its seeds and leaves are also widely used medicinally. Don’t try concocting any medicine yourself, unless you are an expert and know exactly what proportions of each to use, and how to prepare them.


Photo Credit: thinkstock

5.  Black Henbane

This one, you’ll have to admit, does look a little menacing, and with good reason. Here’s what happens when you ingest this lovely plant: black henbane may cause dry mouth, difficulty in swallowing and speaking, along with flushed skin and dilated pupils, eventually leading to vomiting, drowsiness, slurred speech, hallucinations, confusion and combative behavior. Even the smell of the flowers can cause dizziness. While originally from Eurasia, this plant is now found worldwide, so be careful!


Photo Credit: thinkstock

6.  European Yew

Growing up in the U.K., I was always warned as a child to stay away from this tree. The European Yew is pretty common in Europe, as well as in northwest Africa and the Middle East, and virtually every part of the tree can be poisonous. Only the red aril, the outgrowth that partially or completely covers the toxic seed, is safe, and this is frequently consumed by birds. The leaves and the seeds contain poisons called taxanes, which people have been known to ingest in order to commit suicide.


Photo Credit: By Ajeep8u (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

7. Jack O’Lantern

This mushroom is famous, due to its often being mistaken for certain types of gourmet chanterelles, which are delicious. However, unlike chanterelles, the jack o’lantern contains a toxin called muscarine, which causes diarrhea and severe cramps. The toxin may not kill you, but ingesting this mushroom will result in an extremely unpleasant experience, probably including hospitalization. Educate yourself about the jack o’lantern, especially if you love those chanterelles.


Photo Credit: thinkstock

8. Castor Oil Seeds

This one may surprise you, since castor oil is known as a valuable purgative. This is the fixed oil obtained from the seeds of the castor oil plant. However, castor oil seeds also contain one of the most poisonous substances in the world, ricin, which is “6,000 times more poisonous than cyanide and 12,000 times more poisonous than rattlesnake venom,” according to a New York Times author.As with other plants listed here, it is useful in medicine; the Chinese are said to have found a way to make it suitable for culinary purposes.


Photo Credit: thinkstock

9. Aconite or Wolfsbane

These flowers look rich and beautiful but beware! Aconite plants, also known as Wolfsbane, Devil’s Helmet and Monkshood, are deadly. Since the toxins can soak through the skin, you can be poisoned just by touching this plant. The symptoms of poisoning are almost immediate: vomiting, quickly followed by a feeling of burning, numbness in the mouth and face and possibly death.



Photo Credit: thinkstock

10.  Rhubarb

Rhubarb crumble was a delicious favorite dessert when I was growing up, but it turns out that only the long fleshy stems should be eaten. The leaf blades can cause sickness; large amounts of raw or cooked leaves can cause convulsions, and coma and even death potentially. Avoid the leaves of this tasty plant.


william Miller
william Millerabout a year ago


Joon m.
Past Member 1 years ago

This article is actually remarkable one it helps many new users that desire to read always the best someone to write a paper

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill1 years ago

thanks for the information

V V.
Vicki V1 years ago

Number 10 surprised me! Thanks for the info!

Kathryn Irby
Past Member 1 years ago

Noted! Thanks!

Kathryn Irby
Past Member 1 years ago

Scary stuff! Thanks!

Jane R.
Jane R1 years ago

Thank you for this valuable information. However I don't eat anything I don't buy in a grocery store. I'd never eat a plant or berries from a bush I see growing in the wild. unless your knowledgeable in plants, never ingest any part of them.

Muff-Anne York-Haley
Muff-Anne Y1 years ago

Scary, Thankyou!

federico bortoletto
federico b1 years ago