List of poisonous plants

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700 cattle that were killed overnight by poisonous plants. Australia, 1907.

Plants cannot move to escape their predators, so they must have other means of protecting themselves from herbivorous animals. Some plants have physical defenses such as thorns, but by far the most common protection is chemical.[1] Over millennia, natural selection has produced a complicated and vast array of chemical compounds that deter herbivores. Tannin is a compound that emerged relatively early in the evolutionary history of plants, while more complex molecules such as polyacetylenes are found in younger groups of plants such as the Asterales. Many of the plant defense compounds arose to defend against consumption by insects, although when livestock or humans consume such plants, they may also experience negative effects, ranging from mild discomfort to death.

Many of these poisonous compounds also have important medicinal benefits.[2] There are so many kinds of plant defenses that there are many unanswered questions about them. Questions include (1) which plants have which type of defenses, (2) which herbivores are the plants defended against, (3) what are the chemical structures of the compounds that provide defense, (4) and what are the potential medical uses of these compounds? This is still an active area of research with important implications for understanding plant evolution, and for medical research.

Below is an extensive, if incomplete, list of plants containing poisonous parts that pose a serious risk of illness, injury, or death to humans or animals. Human fatalities caused by poisonous plants – especially resulting from accidental ingestion – are rare in the USA.[3]

Poisonous food plants[edit]

Many food plants possess toxic parts, are toxic unless processed, or are toxic at certain stages of their life. Notable examples include:

Other poisonous plants[edit]

Oleander is toxic to humans and animals.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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