Looks can be very deceiving when it comes to flowers. Today, we will offer you a list consisting of ten gorgeous but deadly flowers and a quick summary of some of the deadliest plants in the world.
Just like us, plants have been evolving for hundreds of thousands of years and have developed different means to protect themselves – from thorns and spines to deadly chemicals.
In this article, we’ll discuss 10 deadly flowers to watch out for. These flowers look harmless to the naked eye, but they also contain toxins and poisonous substances that can be lethal for both humans and pets. Moreover, since we are in the fun section of this website, we will also present you with some of the deadliest plants and most poisonous specs of vegetation that Mother Nature created for our amazement (and disgust).
Our List of Beautiful But Deadly Flowers
1. The Queen of Poisons, Aconitum
The first entry on our list of deadly flowers is Aconitum, known as wolfsbane and pretty much the bane of everything. While it does belong to the buttercup family, there is nothing sweet or nice about it (except for its looks). A few drops of juice from this deadly flower’s roots and you have some heart failure and cardiac muscles’ paralysis to deal with – if you have the time, of course.
Other Names:Aconite, Monkshood, Wolf's-bane, Leopard's bane, Devil's helmet
Native:Mountainous parts of the Northern Hemisphere
Toxicity:Deadly. It contains aconitine, a potent neurotoxin, mostly in its roots and tubers.
2. The Fragrant Killer, Oleander
Oleander, known since Ancient Greece and Rome and described by Plinius, is one of the most toxic and deadliest garden plants in the world. You may use it as an ornamental shrub or hedge, but keep in mind all the plant’s parts are poisonous. If you or your pet eat by accident an oleander plant’s part, the poisoning symptoms can range from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures, coma, and death. Make sure you don’t touch it, either, as some people suffer severe skin reactions upon contact.
Other Names:Nerium, Nerium Oleander
Native:Mediterranean region. Grown as ornamental plants worldwide.
Toxicity:Deadly. All its parts contain the cardiac glycosides oleandrin and oleandrigenin.
3. The Innocent Killer, Lily of the Valley
Should you ingest such flower – and we understand the appeal, it smells terrific – expect the worst. Lily of the Valley is a “grade 1” deadly flower on the poison scale. It acts through the cardiac glycosides, which create a similar effect with the Digitalis exposure, meaning that this delicate, gorgeous, tantalizing flower is also one of the deadliest killer plants in existence.
Other Names:Convallaria majalis, May bells, Our Lady's tears, and Mary's tears
Native:Asia and Europe
Toxicity:Deadly. All parts are highly poisonous and contain saponins and Aze, a poisonous animo acid.
4. The Angel’s Trumpet, Brugmansia
One of the most toxic ornamental plants out there, Brugmansia contains alkaloids that you do not want to ingest or touch. Even if the toxins of this plant – scopolamine, atropine, and hyoscyamine – found excellent uses in medicine and pharmacology, the use of any plant’s parts can be deadly without a doctor’s supervision.
Other Names:Brugmansia ‘Feingold’
Native:Tropical parts of South America, Andes, Venezuela, Chile, south-eastern Brazil. Grown as ornamental plants worldwide.
Toxicity:Deadly. All parts are highly poisonous and contain tropane alkaloids, including hyoscine (scopolamine), hyoscyamine, norhyoscine.
5. The Mind-Altering Honey, Azaleas
All parts of azaleas are poisonous for humans and pets. While gorgeous in looks, azaleas are deadly flowers containing grayanotoxins. Ingesting a small quantity of the plant will not likely lead to severe illnesses, but consuming a larger part of the plant correlates with life-threatening conditions.
Native:Asia, Europe, and North America. Grown as ornamental plants worldwide.
Toxicity:Deadly. It contains andromedotoxins in its leaves and nectar. Its nectar can be fed to bees and used to create lethal honey, known as ‘mad honey’.
6. The Lazarus Bell, Checkered Lily
You may have heard about this flower as a snake’s head fritillary. As the title suggests, this plant is poisonous like a venomous snake. Just like lily of the valley, it is a grade-1 poisonous plant that you should handle with a lot of care.
Other Names:Snake's head, Chess flower, Frog-cup, Leper lily, Drooping tulip, Fritillary
Native:Europe and western Asia
Toxicity:Deadly. Its bulbs contain poisonous alkaloids.
7. The Deadly Nightshade, Belladonna
This perennial herbaceous plant in the nightshade family Solanaceae is as deadly as its reputation. You probably have read crime novels or seen CSI TV shows related to belladonna poisoning. According to the USDA Forest Service, belladonna means “beautiful woman” in Italian, but you knew that probably. Here are other interesting facts about this poisonous flower!
With all these highly toxic compounds, one might wonder why deadly nightshade was and is still being used by people. As with many poisonous plants there are many reasons for their use, both good (medicinal) and bad (weapons and poisons). The Romans used belladonna as a biological weapon to contaminate their enemies’ food reserves. In Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, the Scottish army defeats the Danes by contaminating their liquor supply with belladonna, inducing a deep, comatose sleep, and murdering them in their hapless state. Deadly nightshade was also an important plant in the medieval witches’ pharmacopoeia in brews and salves, used as a constituent in their flying ointments. During World War II, the Germans invented a deadly, odorless nerve gas and the only antidote to its paralyzing effects turned out to be atropine.
Other Names:Atropa Belladonna
Native:Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia
Toxicity:Deadly. One of the most toxic plants. The entire plant contains tropane alkaloids.
8. The Twining Vine, Jessamine
Carolina jessamine is a common garden plant loved for the profusion of yellow flowers it yields in the summer. It is also one of the deadliest flowers out there. It contains neurotoxic alkaloids that affect nerve endings and cause paralysis, muscle weakness, and clonic convulsions in animals and humans. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but you have to watch out for the flowers and the roots with even more care.
Other Names:Gelsemium sempervirens, Yellow Jessamine, Carolina jasmine, Evening trumpet flower, Gelsemium, and Woodbine.
Native:Subtropical and tropical America and southeastern and south-central United States
Toxicity:All its parts contain the toxic alkaloids gelsemine and gelseminine and its sap can cause skin irritation.
9. The Philosopher’s Bane, Hemlock
Poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) is one of the most poisonous and deadliest plants in the world. You should, however, make the difference between poisonous hemlock and Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota). Poisonous hemlock grows throughout the United States. It is toxic to pets, livestock, and humans, so make sure you keep an eye on it should you choose to grow it in the garden.
Other Names:Conium maculatum, Poison hemlock
Native:Europe and North Africa
Toxicity:Deadly. This is the plant that killed Socrates. It contains conium and multiple toxic alkaloids.
10. The Star of Bethlehem, Ornithogalum
This cool-season perennial of the Lily family is poisonous in all its parts, but make sure you stay away from its bulbs and roots. This deadly flower – that blooms in late spring or early summer – contains cardiac glycosides that have life-threatening side effects. You should never use it as medicine.
Other Names:Ornithogalum umbellatum
Native:Europe and Southern Africa
Toxicity:Some of the plants from this genus are toxic and contain alkaloids and cardenolides in their bulbs.
Other Deadly and Killer Flowers You Should Know About
As we said, we will resume here other deadly flowers you should know about before considering planting such flowers and ornamentals in your home or garden!
- Castor Oil Plant – it is currently in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most poisonous plant in the world;
- English Ivy – this beautiful indoor plant cleans the air and makes an excellent hanging vegetal ornament, but keep in mind it is toxic to pets and children;
- Dracula’s Flower (Dracunculus vulgaris) – hard to ingest, as when in bloom, its flowers reek of rotten meat;
- Titan Arum, also known as the corpse flower
- Gypsophila, known as baby breath, looks wonderful but can cause skin irritation, vomiting, nausea;
- Bleeding heart, a gorgeous plant will all parts poisonous;
- Bloodroot, beautiful, but leading to organ failure if ingested;
- Foxglove, containing digitalis, fatal;
- Morning glory, smell it only, as it can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, or hallucinations;
- Peace lily, one of the most beloved indoor plants that clean the air – just make sure it does not get in contact with children and pets;
- Iris, one of those deadly flowers that look gorgeous but can lead to vomiting, fever, or diarrhea for people and pets.
That was our list of the 10 most beautiful but deadly flowers.
If you’d like us to add one or more dangerous and poisonous plants to the list, let us know in the comments section below!
Until then, make sure to be very careful around these plants, as they are dangerous for both humans and pets.