Despite their beautiful appearance, some ornamental plants can be a real danger to human and animals’ life. The good part is that many of them are dangerous only if their leaves or flowers are eaten. Here are 5 beautiful plants with this dark side.
1. Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
All parts of this evergreen shrub are poisonous. Its beautiful pink or white flowers attract bees but the honey produced can cause low blood pressure and death. Mountain Laurel grows on rocky slopes and mountainous forest areas in eastern United States, but it is appreciated as a colorful asset to borders and foundation plantings. Mountain Laurel is the state flower of Connecticut and Pennsylvania and the namesake of the city of Laurel, Mississippi (founded in 1882).
By Muffet [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
2. Oleander (Nerium oleander)
This is one of the most poisonous of commonly grown garden plants. Ingesting any part of this plant can be deadly and even smoke from burning it can be fatal for humans. Still, the plant is widely cultivated in many subtropical and tropical areas of the world.
3. Monkshood (Aconitum)
Commonly called monkshood or wolfsbane, this beautiful plant with purple/blue flowers and attractive foliage was one of the earliest garden ornamentals to follow the European settlers to North America. The plant gets its name from the shape of the posterior sepal of the flowers, which resembles the cowls worn by monks. All parts of Aconitum, especially the roots, are highly poisonous. It seems that even ancient warriors were aware of the Monkshood’s deadly side and use it to poison the water of their enemies.
4. Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia)
Angel’s trumpet is so named for its large pendulous flowers that hang like bells. It is native to tropical regions of South America, along the Andes from Venezuela to northern Chile, and also in south-eastern Brazil. Its flowers come in shades of white, yellow, pink, orange, green, or red and most of them have a strong, sweet perfume. However, all parts of this beautiful plant are poisonous if ingested even in small amounts.
Image by Arria Belli:commons.wikimedia.org
5. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
This attractive plant that grows to 3 feet tall with drooping purple, pink or white flowers contains chemicals that affect the heart. It was the original source of the drug called digitalis. The plant can be fatal even in small doses. Other names for this plant include fairy bells, rabbit flower, throatwort and witches’ thimbles.