Beautifully Lethal

Those delicate blooms may smell sweet and be beautiful, but some are as dangerous as they are beautiful.



Also known as the Trumpet of Death, this blooming shrub is very deceptive. It has delicate looking blooms and is very fragrant. Originally native to South America, this shrub is popular in home gardens, but gardeners but be very careful, even exposure to the juices of the plant during pruning has sent individuals to the hospital. All parts of this plant are toxic and should be cared for with caution.


This is a popular flower for wild flower gardens. The shape of the flower resembled the hoods from the garments of monks, hence the name. It was also given the name Wolfsbane because of its use as a poison for wolves when mixed with raw meat. All of the parts of this plant are toxic and toxins can be absorbed through the skin when in contact with the sap.


While quite delicate looking, water hemlock is the most deadly plant in North America. Even the smallest amount ingested can be fatal to an adult. Found in wetlands and along streams and in still water, water hemlock is found during the summer months.


Found in wooded areas around the world, Daphne or Spurge laurel, is poisonous to humans, but shows no effect on birds. This plant flowers early in the year, January and February. It is the berries of this plant that can be very dangerous for small animals and children.


Another plant found in gardens, all parts of the plant are poisonous and some have reported skin irritations just from handling the plant. Generally it is a hardy plant and is rather fragrant. Because of the widespread locations of oleander, the origins of the plant is not known.


While a popular garden plant, this one is poisonous to human and animals. While the whole plant contains toxins, it is the foliage that is the most dangerous. The azalea, a type of rhododendron is also toxic if consumed.


Also commonly known as Belladonna and Devil’s Cherries, Nightshade is highly lethal. Unlike other plants, all of this plant contains a fast acting poison. Belladonna originated in Southern and Central Europe and Southwest Asia but has been cultivated in other parts of the world, including North America and blooms from June until September. Belladonna has a long and interesting history, including thought to be the plant that poisoned the army of Marcus Antonius during the Parthian wars. It is also used today for medical purposes as well, once the toxins have been removed.


It is no coincidence that all these plants are very attractive to the eye. If you are planning on putting these in your garden or already have them in your garden, make sure they are in a location away from young children and animals. Remember the best safety precaution is knowledge for both you and others around these plants. 


*Pictures curtesy of

Althea WilesComment