Top 5: Deadly Flowers and Plants

by Stefania Del Zotto on July 5, 2011

From witches’ brews to women’s ancient make-up, from curative medicine to weapons against enemies, flower and plant poisons have been frequently used by man over the centuries.

Having in mind the idea of a top 5 list of poisonous flowers, we got lost in some funny and interesting stories about flowers. This is our top 5 list of flowers that kill – chosen because of their name (some of them have really cool ones!), history and poisonous effects. We never thought flowers can be so powerful and we hope you’ll enjoy the list!

DATURA. Its nickname, Angel’s Trumpet, is quite interesting, but it’s the way it was used in ancient times that is even more curious… Indeed, it belongs to the so called “witches’ weeds” family because it was used as an ingredient in witches’ brews and love potions (it was mentioned for the first time in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book The Scarlet Letter).
Its poison can cause a state of delirium and death because of the toxic hallucinogens contained in parts of the plant. You can find it in the United States and Mexico.

datura-flower-interflora

ACONITUM. This is by far one of the most famous poisons among flowers. We were really surprised to discover how many times it has been mentioned in literature and cinema
Shakespeare mentioned it in Henry IV, John Keats in his Ode on Melancholy. In cinema it was mentioned by Stephen King and, more recently, in the Harry Potter series it was used as an ingredient in a potion werewolves use to maintain their rationality and conscience when transformed into a wolf.

aconitum-flower-interfloraBELLADONNA. Do you know the meaning of this flower’s name and where it comes from? It comes from Italy and means “beautiful woman” and that’s because Roman women used to put a few drops on their eyes to dilate their pupils, which was considered quite attractive! Romans also used it as a poison to murder enemies (Emperors Augustus and Claudius used it), while in the Middle Age it was mostly used in surgery as an anesthetic.
It is possible to find this flower in Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.

atropa-belladonna-interfloraImage source

DELPHINIUM. We chose this flower because of its vibrant colour and shape. Its name comes from the Greek word “delphis” to refer to its shape which reflects an animal’s nose. It is very poisonous if used in large quantities, but small quantities can be used for scorpions stings. It is native of the Northern hemisphere and some parts of Africa.

delphinum-flower-interfloraHENBANE (Hyoscyamus niger). This is another plant which was frequently used for magical brews in years gone by. It can cause visual hallucinations and a sensation of flight. Frequently used in the Asian and Arabian world, it was imported into England during the Middle Ages. Greeks used it to yield oracles.
At the beginning of the 20th century a homeopath in London used it to kill his wife!

Henbane-flower-interfloraImage source

Do you know any strange poisonous flowers which we can add to the list?
You can also have a look at our range of indoor and outdoor plants.


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Stefania Del Zotto

I joined Interflora in May 2011. On the blog I will write about creative flower related top lists, how-to guides, interviews with experts, news on flower festivals and events. I am Italian, originally from the Venice area, and I moved to the UK three years ago to follow my love. I’m a creative person, I love cinema, photography, cats and all that is vintage! I’m a friend, daughter and sister. I speak Italian, English and I’m now studying Spanish.

Connect with the author: Stefania Del Zotto

Post category: Flowers, Top Tens  

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