Plants Nobody Loves 

 

 

 

 

 

By

 

 

 

 

 

Alec Cheung

Table of Contents

 

 

      Introduction ...................................................................................Page 3

   

    Mala Mujer .....................................................................................Page 4

 

    Rosary Pea ......................................................................................Page 6

 

    European Yew ................................................................................Page 8

 

    Jimson Weed ..................................................................................Page 10

 

    Castor Bean Plant .........................................................................Page 12

 

    Dogbane ..........................................................................................Page 14

 

    Fox Glove   ......................................................................................Page 16

 

    Poison Ivy  ......................................................................................Page 18

 

    Lacquer Tree ..................................................................................Page 20

 

    Death Cap ........................................................................................Page 22

 

    Conclusion ......................................................................................Page 24

 

    True or False ...................................................................................Page 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

    ATTENTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If you see these plants, give yourself a warning not to touch or eat them.  If you do, you might get poisoned.  You'll be sorry for yourself for not taking the advice.

 

 

 

 

Page 3

Mala Mujer

 

        Why would a plant be named “Mala Mujer”, meaning bad woman when its real name is Cnidoscolus Stimulosus?  It’s because it has brilliant white flowers that attract bees and butterflies. If you are human, you better watch out!  One time there was a boy who went to his dad’s ranch in Mexico. He accidentally touched a Mala Mujer and he said it felt like being “bitten by dozens of red ants”. He had welts all over his body and the pain was extremely severe. It took about a month before the stinging felt better.

        Mala Mujer is a tropical plant usually found in Mexico or other tropical and subtropical parts of North America. It grows in well-drained sandy soil most often found in pine/blackjack oak forests, on sandhills, rims of Carolina bays, dunes, dry pastures, fields and roadsides.  This plant is perennial and can live for more than two years.

        The Mala Mujer looks like a small green shrub with ivory colored flowers and fruitlets covered with skin piercing hair.  Actually, the whole plant is covered with hair like stingers. It’s the stingers that have a milk-like resin that is poisonous if eaten and can cause painful skin irritation. The mala mujer is more painful than poison and it can last a long time.

 

 

 

 

Page 4

Rosary Pea

       Rosary pea looks beautiful with red peas.  The scientific name is Abrus Precatorius and it is found in Peru. It has compound leaves and fruit or seed inside a pod that crinkles like a dead and dry leaf. It is also known as the crab’s eye.  It is very poisonous if eaten. In some cultures, the seed of this plant is actually used to make beaded jewelry.

       The toxin, called abrin, is sometimes used as an herbal remedy and has a potential use to kill cancer cells. Abrin poisoning is not contagious.  Abrin causes illness by getting inside the cells and preventing them from making proteins. Without the proteins, cells die. Eventually, this will cause death.

       Some symptoms of abrin include fever, nausea, heavy sweating, low blood pressure, bloody vomiting and diarrhea, hallucinations, seizures, and redness of the skin. These symptoms depend on whether you inhaled, ingested, or came in contact with.  Death may happen in 36 to 72 hours depending on how the abrin got there.  Currently, there is no antidote for abrin poisoning so it is important to avoid abrin in the first place. If you think you have been exposed, you should take off all your clothes, wash your entire body with soap and water and get medical care as quickly as you can.

 

 

 

 

Page 6

 

European Yew


        The European yew looks innocent enough.  The Taxus Baccata, also known as the tree of death, is poisonous. The tree is originally known as yew and now commonly known as European yew.

        The word yew originally used was referred to the color brown. The tree is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree, grown to about thirty three to 66 feet tall with a 6 feet diameter.  It is native to central southern Europe, northwest and southwest Africa and Asia. It is also the most ancient tree in Europe.

        The leaves, which are needle-like and surround the stems, causes skin rashes, itching, aching joints and asthma.  The leaves and seeds are poisonous, but the red surrounding flesh is like jelly and very sweet and not poisonous. In the central Himalayas, the plant is used as a treatment for breast and ovarian cancer. Wood from the yew is the hardest of the softwood. It is ideal for making things that requires springiness such as bows.

 

 

 

 

Page 8

 

Jimson Weed


          Look out for the jimson weed or  the Datura Stramonium.  The jimson weed has fruits that are pointy with sharp, painful hairs and has blue to purple flowers. The whole plant has an oil that is extremely toxic to humans and animals. It can cause delirium, photophobia, fear of light, and hallucinations. It is also known as Devil’s cucumber, Devil’s trumpet, stinkweed, locoweed, moonflower, and thorn apple.

 

          It has been used in traditional medicine to relieve asthma symptoms and as analgesic during surgery. It is also used spiritually for intense visions because it is such a powerful hallucinogen and delirant, however, it is fatally toxic in only slightly higher amounts than medicinal dosages.

 

          Jimson weed is native to North America, but was spread to the old world. Today, it grows wild in all the world’s warm and moderate regions. It is commonly found along roadsides and in manure, rich, animal pens. The seeds can lie dormant underground and germinate when the soil is moved. People who find it in their gardens should dig it up or remove it.

 

 

Page 10

 

Castor Bean Plant



          Castor bean plant is up to no good.  Ricinus communis or castor bean is a plant native to eastern Africa, India and other tropical places. All parts are of the plant are poisonous and the seeds are the most harmful and poisonous. It is an ugly looking plant with green spiky pods and large jagged leaves. Its seed is the castor bean which is not a real bean. Castor oil comes from the castor seed.

          The plant is a very strong trigger for asthma.  Allergies to this plant is very common and severe. The castor oil plant produces a lot of very light pollen which can easily be breathed, triggering allergic reactions. The sap causes skin rashes and people who are allergic can develop rashes from just touching the leaves, flowers or seeds.

          There are certain applications of the plant.  Alcoholic extract of the leaf was shown in lab rats, to protect the liver from certain poisons. The leaves are known to by used by Bodo tribes to feed the larvae of muga and endi silkworms. Other use include using the castor oil as a motor lubricant. Jewelry is often made of castor beans, mainly necklaces and bracelets.

 

 

Page 12

 

Dogbane




          Doggies beware!  Apocynum, which means “poisonous to dogs” is native to New England and Florida. The full name is Apocynum cannabinum.  It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and cardiac arrest if eaten. It is extremely poisonous to dogs. The sap can be made into chewing gum and rubber. After the latex has been squeezed from the plant, it has to harden into a white gum overnight.

          It has pink to white flowers that grows in many clusters. It is also known as Amy Root, Hemp Dogbane, Prairie Dogbane, Indian Hemp, Rheumatism Root, or Wild Cotton.  grows in open wooded areas, ditches, and hillsides. It is found in gravelly or sandy soil, mainly near streams in shady or moist places.

Since the plant is a good source of fiber, Native Americans made it into hunting nets, fishing lines , clothing and twine. Fiber from the bark is a flax substitute and it does not shrink and retains its strength in water.  In modern times, it is used to make clothing, twine, bags, linen and paper.  In fall, the toxins drain from the roots and the plant can be harvested to make strong string and cordage for bows, fire-bows, nets and tie down straps. The seeds can be eaten when ground into a powder.  

         It has been used in herbal medicine to treat fever and dysentery, infection of the intestines.  The toxins can cause nausea and it is used for slowing the pulse, sedative and hypnotising. It tastes bitter and has effects on the heart, breathing and waste systems.



Page 14

 

Fox Glove



         Fox gloves are beautiful colorful flowers but are very dangerous.  Digitalis or more commonly known as fox glove are biennials or short-lived perennials.  Digitalis which means “finger like” is native to Europe and western central Asia. It lives in acidic soils in partial sunlight, open woods, sea cliffs, and rocky mountain slopes.

          Although fox glove is very beautiful with its trumpet like blossoms, are very poisonous to dogs, cats and even humans. It causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea as well as sometimes resulting in xanthopsia and the appearance of blurred outlines (halos). Additionally, drooling, abnormal heart rate, cardiac arrhythmias, weakness, collapse, dilated pupils, tremors, seizures, and even death can occur.

          The flowers are produced on a tall spike, are tubular, and vary in color with species, from purple to pink, white, and yellow. The best-known species is the common foxglove, Digitalis purpurea.  The toxins in these plants are used as a common heart medication used in both human and veterinarian medicine.

 

 

Page 16

 

Poison Ivy

          The fearful poison ivy or toxicodendron radicans, is native to North America and Asia. Birds eat the seeds. It has a white silky oil inside the leaves, roots and stems that causes very itchy red rashes that last up to 2 weeks until the itching gets better and less irritating. The leaves turn red during fall and are green during spring. Many people think it is an unwelcome weed but many animals eat it. The plant has no thorns and vines often grow at the trunk of the tree. Because if flowers from may to july, it is a deciduous plant.

          Some characteristics that are specific to poison ivy are clusters of 3 leaflets alternate leaf arrangement on the vine no thorns and each group of 3 leaves grows on it’s own stem which connects with the vine. Some common rhymes include “leaves of three let it be”, “hairy vine no friend of mine”, “berries white run in fright” or “berries in white danger in sight”. Washing right away with soap and water or rubbing alcohol may prevent a reaction. Hot water should not be used because it opens up your pores and allow the oils in. During the reaction, calamine lotion can soothe symptoms.

          Another plant that looks like poison ivy, poison sumac,Toxicodendron vernix, is also native to North america. It is more poisonous and causes more itching rashes. It has Dark red berries that has only skin and seed and no flesh.

 

Page 18

Lacquer Tree



An unusual plant that is as poisonous as useful.  Toxicodendron vernicifluum, commonly known as Chinese Lacquer tree is native to China and India. The tree is cultivated in regions of China, Korea and Japan.  Other common names include Japanese lacquer tree, Japanese sumac, and varnish tree.

The trees can grow up to fifty feet tall with large leaves.  Each large leaf contains seven to 19 leaflets.  A toxic sap, inside the tree trunk called urushiol is also found in poison ivy that causes skin rash.  In its liquid state, the sap can cause a bad rash.  Moreover, inhaling the vapors of the sap can also causes lacquer tree rash.

Urushiol is tapped from the tree by slashing the tree trunk.  The sap is filtered and treated before being used as lacquer or paint.  A lacquered object must be dried in a humid space for up to 24 hours before it hardens.  

 

 

Lacquer Tree
 

An unusual plant that is as poisonous as useful.  Toxicodendron vernicifluum, commonly known as Chinese Lacquer tree is native to China and India. The tree is cultivated in regions of China, Korea and Japan.  Other common names include Japanese lacquer tree, Japanese sumac, and varnish tree.

 

The trees can grow up to fifty feet tall with large leaves.  Each large leaf contains seven to 19 leaflets.  A toxic sap, inside the tree trunk called urushiol is also found in poison ivy that causes skin rash.  In its liquid state, the sap can cause a bad rash.  Moreover, inhaling the vapors of the sap can also causes lacquer tree rash.

 

Urushiol is tapped from the tree by slashing the tree trunk.  The sap is filtered and treated before being used as lacquer or paint.  A lacquered object must be dried in a humid space for up to 24 hours before it hardens

 

 

Page 20

 

 

Death Cap

 


          Be very frightful of this innocent ordinary mushrooms.  Death cap or Amanita Phalloides, is a deadly poisonous mushroom that only appears in summer and fall. The death cap mushroom likely kills and poisons more people every year than any other mushroom. It causes delay symptoms such as abdominal cramps, vomiting and severely dehydrating diarrhea.  The poison from the mushroom destroys the liver and causes rapid organ failure, coma and death.  

         Death cap looks extremely like some other edible species such as caesar’s mushroom and paddy straw mushroom.  This poisonous fungus can be seen underneath pines, oaks, dogwoods and other trees.  Most of the plant is in the soil or wrapped around tree roots.

         It is very important to tell the death cap from the other edible mushrooms.  The caps of these mushrooms are generally green or yellow in color.  The gills underneath the cap are white and are densely crowded together but do not extend all the way to the stem.  The whitish stalk is about six inches long with a large round bulb and white sac.  Don’t be fool by the similarity to other edible species!   

 

 

Page 22

 

  Conclusion

 

 

           So now that you know that these 10 plants are poisonous or harmful, better stay away and try to watch out for these plants with warning and never touch them, eat them, or be so close to themStay safe when you're outside or in a garden or a nature trail.

 

Page 24

 

 

  True or False

 

   

 

    The Mala Mujer has hair like stingers.                         True / False

 

   

    The Fox Glove has a sap that can make lacquer.       True / False

 

   

    The Death Cap is a mushroom.                                         True / False

 

Page 25