There is an old saying that is root of the dos and don’ts of gardening and prepping, and it goes something like this: “leaves of three, let it be!” The statement is as true as it can be, and it serves as a good foundation on which to base an almost general truth on: if you see three leaves, best leave it alone as the plant is most likely poisonous or even toxic to the touch. However, there are plenty other toxic plants out there who don’t fall into the “leaves of three, let it be!” category. Many of these potentially dangerous weeds may start growing at some point into your very own garden or you may very well stumble across them while hiking or doing some other outdoor activity. It goes without saying that every green thumb and gardening enthusiast on the face of the planet should hold as much knowledge as possible about detrimental plants as he does about the beneficial ones. Gardening and plant handling in general may turn out to be anything but a relaxing experience if you lack basic knowledge or fail to take the necessary precautions. What follows is pretty accurate list of the most common toxic weeds and plants that you are most likely to come across.
Poison hemlock (aka. hemlock) is a herbaceous plant that’s common to North America and Europe alike. This tiny herb has made a pretty bad reputation for itself even from the dawn of modern civilization, as in ancient times it was used as a poison to end the life of those sentenced to death. Perhaps its most famous victim is the Greek philosopher Socrates, who was forced to drink a hemlock brew after being sentenced to death. This weed can be found throughout the whole territory of the US and can thrive in shade and moist soils. It can be recognized by its hairless stems, covered in dark spots. Its leaves are fern-like and are completely hairless. It has small rounded white flowers that grow in clusters. The entire plants it poisonous, but the highest concentration of toxins is found in the seeds. Hemlock ingestion may cause dizziness, pupil dilation, paralysis of the muscles and the central nervous system and even death.
This apparently inoffensive plant bears many other names throughout the regions of the US, such as climbing nightshade, fellenwort, violet bloom, trailing nightshade or blue blindweed. It’s a pretty tenacious weed that will grow and spread rapidly in hedges, marshlands, woodlands and will even spawn in your backyard or garden if the conditions are right. It’s easy to spot and identify due to its purple flowers that grow in clusters, situated on a branching stem. The petals tend to curl back as the plant gets older; in the middle you can spot a torpedo-like stamen. It has wide, pale-green leaves, which can be either pointy or blunt. Although the berry-like red fruit might seem delicious, eating it will come with a price: nausea, diarrhea and acute stomach pains. It’s not necessarily deadly, but the amount of toxicity they hold may prove lethal if they are eaten by people with poor health.
The jimsonweed (aka. Devil’s snare or stinkweed) is a relative of the previously mentioned bittersweet nightshade, but unlike its not-so-distant relative the Datura is known to be far more toxic and deadly. It produces a very potent toxin that could easily kill animals and people alike. Although dangerous, it has been used in the field of primitive medicine as an analgesic or asthma relief. It grows as an erect plant, with brown branches and green or purple, hairless stems (when you, the stems are covered in fine hairs). It gives out a foul odor. The alternate leaves are oval and lobed, and pointy on the margins; just like the stems, the leaves lose their fine hairs with age. The flowers spawn along the stems and are made up of a white corolla with a purple base. It’s mostly common to the state of Illinois, but it’s been spotted in many other regions as well.
The oleander is an evergreen shrub which has very little in common with a wild or garden weed. Although it’s considered to be invasive in a few places, it’s not the sort of plant you want to weed out of your garden; on the contrary, it’s the sort of plant you add for its landscaping potential. It has lance-shaped green leaves and funnel-like flowers which usually give off a very pleasant fragrance (most species of oleander do). The flowers will range in color from light pink or bright pink. It’s an unpretentious little tree whose beauty is only matched by toxicity, as all of its components bare high amounts of poisonous substances. It contains digitoxigenin, saponins, nerioside, cardiac glycosides, oleandrin, oleandroside and many more. All of these substances are extremely potent and will keep their deadly properties even if the plant has dried up. Ingesting any part of the plant will most likely result in death.
Gardening and plant collecting have been around ever since modern man decided to capitalize on the bounties of Mother Nature. But nature needs to be treated with the upmost prudence and respect, as it tends to take as much as it gives. In order to avoid direct contact with toxic plants educate yourself as best as you can in the matter and always have basic protective gear on you.
If you liked the post above … read how the Native Americans used it to heal their pain:
This is wild lettuce also known as opium lettuce… for a good reason. It has side effects similar to Morphine but milder, being by far the strongest natural painkiller that grows in your backyard.
This milky substance inside this plant doesn’t contain any opiates, but it’s acting directly on the central nervous system (CNS) to lessen the feeling of pain. Many people have used it as a replacement for addictive prescription pain medicine.
Wild Lettuce is un-scheduled by the FDA, meaning it is legal to forage, to grow, and own without prescription or license… just like the Native Americans used it to heal their pain.
In The Lost Ways you’ll find lots of these common invaluable weeds with pictures, how to identify them, how to prepare them and how to use them… all with different medical effects… because when the medical system collapses this will be your only option to heal yourself.