The Content Of The Article:
- First aid for toxic poisoning
- Toxic plants in detail
- Daphne (Daphne mezereum)
- Autumn timeless (Colchicum autumnale)
- Giant Bear Claw (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
- Laburnum anagyroides
- Belladonna (Atropa belladonna)
- Pfaffenhütchen (Euonymus europaea)
- Yew (Taxus baccata)
- Castor (Ricinus communis)
- Lilies of the valley (Convallaria majalis)
- Iron hat (Aconitum napellus)
Most poisonous plants are at home in the tropics and subtropics. But we also have a few candidates with a high risk potential. Many of the mostly very attractive plants are often used as ornamental plants in the garden or attract walkers for their beauty. Others are especially dangerous because they look so different from eating plants or produce fruits that look very appealing to children. All the more important that you know these plants and also know how to handle them.
First aid for toxic poisoning
Usually there are no effective antidotes for the poison cocktails of the plants. As a first step, after the immediate emergency call with information on plant poisoning, you should immediately give medical coal as it binds the toxins. Especially if you have children, it is very important to have medical charcoal in pellet or tablet form in the medicine cabinet and to have familiarized with their use, because with poisoning every minute counts!
Toxic plants in detail
Daphne (Daphne mezereum)
The daphne is encountered in the wild in deciduous and mixed forests, but it is also a popular garden plant. He prefers calcareous and humus rich soil. Striking are the pink flowers of one to two feet high shrub, which he trains from March to May and spread a strong fragrance. On the four-petalled Flor, which grows directly from the woody stems, follow in July and August, the red berries, which resemble form and color of currants. This is one of the points that make daphne for children dangerous. The poison is concentrated mainly in the seeds of the berries and in the bark of the shrub. The two toxins that occur there are mezerin (seed) and daphnetoxin (bark).
The daphne is poisonous in all parts of the plant. Particularly problematic are the red, appetizing-looking berries. Ten to twelve of the berries are considered a lethal dose to children
When plant parts have been consumed, a burning sensation soon appears in the mouth, followed by swelling of the tongue, lips and oral mucosa. This is followed by stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, those affected suffer from dizziness and headaches, which can be attributed to the effect of plant toxins on the central nervous system and the kidneys. In the course of the poisoning, body temperature and heartbeat of the affected person increase significantly. Finally, the person dies of a circulatory collapse. Four to five berries for children and ten to twelve for adults are considered a lethal dose.
Autumn timeless (Colchicum autumnale)
The small onion flower is found mainly in wet meadows in Central, Western and Southern Europe. Their pink to purple flowers are from August to October to the fore and resemble the then also blossoming saffron crocus. The leaves appear only in spring and are easily mistaken for wild garlic. The poison of the autumn timeless, the colchicine, resembles the arsenic and is already fatal in small quantities. If the seeds of the plant are consumed (two to five grams are already fatal), after about six hours, the first symptoms of intoxication appear in the form of difficulty swallowing and a burning sensation in the throat and mouth area. This is followed by vomiting, stomach cramps, severe diarrhea, a drop in blood pressure and, as a result, body temperature drops. After about one to two days, death occurs due to respiratory paralysis.
The leaves of the Herbstzeitlosen appear in spring and are similar to the wild garlic, which makes them a source of danger. Already five grams of their seeds can cause a deadly poisoning in humans
Giant Bear Claw (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
The short-lived perennial can not be overgrown, as it reaches growth heights between two and four meters in the second year after sowing. It prefers moist, calcareous soils, but is otherwise very undemanding. At the end of shoots, the giant bear claw forms large umbel flowers of 30 to 50 centimeters in diameter and the strongly toothed three- and multi-part leaves reach a size of up to one meter. At the base, the tubular and stained speckled stems reach a diameter of up to ten centimeters. The imposing appearance was probably the reason why the plant, which is not native to us, was introduced as an ornamental plant from the Caucasus. Meanwhile, it has spread in many places in the wild because of its strong growth and its enormous reproduction rate. Although there is no lethal poisoning, the sap on the skin in combination with sunlight can cause severe, extremely painful burns that only heal very slowly.The triggers are the phototoxic furocoumarins contained in the juice. Above all, playing children as well as domestic and wild animals are endangered.
Originally originating from the south of Europe, the small tree has been cultivated as an ornamental plant for centuries due to its decorative yellow flower clusters. Of course, it only occurs in the southwest of Germany, but was and is often planted in gardens and parks. This is where it often comes to poisoning of small children, because the laburnum produces its fruits in pods that resemble peas and beans. Playing children therefore keep the kernels edible and thereby poison themselves. The alkaloids cytisine, laburnine, laburamine and N-methylcytisine are enriched throughout the plant, but mainly in the pods.
The beautiful laburnum is often used as an ornamental plant for its flowers. It is particularly dangerous because its seeds are formed in pods that children can mistake for peas and beans
A lethal dose of toxins in children is about three to five pods (ten to fifteen seeds). The effect of the poisons is treacherous, because they have an exciting effect on the central nervous system in the first phase, but then this tilts to the opposite and paralyzes the person affected. During the first hour after consumption, the body's usual defense reactions occur: burning in the mouth and throat, severe thirst, vomiting, stomach cramps and increased body temperature. In the further course we talk about states of excitement and delirium. The pupils dilate, causing muscle spasms that can culminate in total mortality at a lethal dose. Finally, death occurs through respiratory paralysis.
Belladonna (Atropa belladonna)
The belladonna is found mainly in or on deciduous and mixed forests with calcareous soil. With a stature height of up to two meters, the perennial is easily recognizable from a distance. From June to September it forms bell-shaped, red-brown flowers, which are colored yellow in the interior and crossed by dark red veins. Between August and September, the one to two centimeter sized berries form, changing their color from green (unripe) to black (ripe). The main constituents of her poison are atropine, scopolamine and L-hyoscyamine, which are found throughout the plant, most concentrated but in the root. The tricky thing is that the fruits have a pleasantly sweet taste and thus do not cause disgust in children. Already three to four berries can be fatal for children (ten to twelve in adults).
The belladonna has two dangerous properties: its berries look and taste good, which is rare in poisonous plants. Already three to four berries can be fatal for children
The first symptoms of poisoning are dilated pupils, redness of the face, dry mucous membranes and an increase in heart rate. In addition, an erotic excitement is reported, which should occur only a few minutes after consumption. This is followed by speech disorders until complete speech loss, mood swings, hallucinations and urge to move. Severe convulsions and pulse deceleration with subsequent massive acceleration are also typical. Then unconsciousness occurs, the complexion changes from red to blue and the body temperature drops below normal. At this point, there are only two options: Either the body is strong enough and recovering, or the patient dies of respiratory paralysis in a coma.
Pfaffenhütchen (Euonymus europaea)
The shrubby native woody shrub can reach a height of up to six meters and occurs mainly in forests and forest edges with moist clay soil. After the flowering period from May to June, intense orange-red colored, four-lobed capsules develop, which when fully ripened, burst and release the seeds. Especially the colorful fruits that are interesting for children are a high source of danger and often end up in the mouth. The main toxic component is the alkaloid Evonin. It is not easy to spot a poisoning caused by the aphid cap, as the first symptoms do not appear until after about 15 hours. In the case of poisoning it comes to vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps. Fortunately, the lethal dose of 30 to 40 fruits is comparatively high, which rarely causes fatal accidents.
Treacherous to a poisoning by the plant is that the symptoms of intoxication begin after about 15 hours. So it is often difficult for children who have eaten the showy fruits to identify them as a cause
Yew (Taxus baccata)
In nature, the yew prefers calcareous soils and mixed forests. However, the up to 20-meter-high coniferous tree is often used in the garden as a hedge or for green sculptures due to its cut compatibility. For children, especially the red and slimy seed covers are interesting - and fortunately the only non-toxic plant part. All others contain the highly toxic alkaloid taxin.There are reports that even skin contact with cut surfaces or grated needles caused mild symptoms of intoxication. After about an hour vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness, convulsions, dilation of the pupil and unconsciousness occur. In the following minutes, the lips turn red. The heart rate rises sharply in the short term and then drops. After about 90 minutes, death occurs due to heart failure. If the fruits are consumed including the hard-shelled seeds, the body excretes the latter undigested but usually again.
The consumption of 50 to 100 grams of yew needles is considered life-threatening. Poisoning is rare in humans but more common in livestock such as cattle or horses
Castor (Ricinus communis)
The originally from Africa-native perennial comes with us mostly only as an ornamental plant. The about one to two meters high castor was introduced because of its interesting foliage color, the leaf shape and the conspicuous fruit stalks. The stems of the plant are colored throughout reddish brown, the blue-green colored leaves are hand-shaped and can reach a diameter of one meter. The conspicuous fruit stands are divided into two levels. Above are the intensely red-colored, globular flowers with bristle-like outgrowths, followed by the smaller male flowers with the yellow stamens.
Similar to the belladonna, the castor combines two sources of danger. Its red and hairy seed covers magically attract children and the seeds taste good. In addition, already 0.25 milligrams of the toxic protein ricin - equivalent to about one seed - can be deadly. However, it can be easily rendered harmless by heating the seeds
The castor blooms from July to September and then forms seeds in the female flowers. These contain the highly toxic protein ricin, which is considered to be fatal in a dose of 25 milligrams (equivalent to one seed). Dangerous here too, as in the deadly nightshade, that the taste of the seeds is pleasant and no warning signal is sent from the mouth. It also occurs here for the usual poisoning for defense reactions such as vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. In addition, dizziness occurs and it comes to an inflammation of the kidneys and the sticking of the red blood cells, which in turn triggers thrombosis. Death occurs after about two days.
Lilies of the valley (Convallaria majalis)
The small robust spring bloomer reaches about 30 centimeters high and is often used as an ornamental plant because of its beautiful white flowers. The lily of the valley also occurs naturally throughout Germany and prefers deciduous and mixed forests. The danger that emanates from her, as with the autumn timeless, the confusion with the wild garlic, with which she often grows in the immediate vicinity. It blooms from April to June and forms from July to September small, about five millimeters large, red berries.
The lily of the valley is a danger, especially because of its similarity to wild garlic. Due to the confusion of the growing plants at the same time there were already many poisoning accidents
The entire plant is poisonous and contains an extensive cocktail of glycosides. The main components are Convallatoxol, Convallatoxin, Convalloside and Desglucocheirotoxin. If there is poisoning, which happens occasionally in the wild garlic season, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps occur. This is followed by dizziness, blurred vision, drowsiness and heavy urination. Overall, the toxins act intensely on the heart, which leads to heart rhythm disorders, blood pressure fluctuations and in extreme cases to heart failure.
Iron hat (Aconitum napellus)
The Eisenhut occurs mainly in wooded mountain regions, wet meadows and stream banks. However, he also finds himself in many ornamental gardens because of its decorative effect. The monkshood is named after the shape of its flowers, which with a bit of fantasy are reminiscent of gladiator or knight helmets. Old names for the plant such as goat's death or Würgling make it clear that you should better keep your hands off the plant. The name does not come by chance, because the Eisenhut is the most poisonous plant in Europe.
The monkshood (Aconitum napellus) is the most poisonous plant in Europe. Even the smallest amounts can be fatal for an adult
Already two to four grams of the tuber is a deadly dose. It is also not possible to name just one toxin here because the monkshood contains a whole cocktail of toxic diterpene alkaloids. These include, for example, aconitine, benzoylnaponin, lyaconitin, hypaconitin and neopellin. Aconitin is particularly dangerous because this alkaloid is a contact poison that can be absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes. This led to careless hobby gardeners already to the fact that slight signs of intoxication such as numbness of the skin and palpitations occurred by the contact of the tuber. If a lethal poison dose is reached, death usually occurs within three hours due to respiratory paralysis and heart failure.