The Suicide Tree (Cerbera odollam) causes about fifty casualties per year in the Indian state of Kerala alone. It belongs to the same family of Oelander, and its seed contains a strong toxin named cerberin which disrupts the rhythm of heart. The plant is infamous for being used to commit suicide and murder than any other plant. One of the reasons for its wide use is that its taste can be masked using spicy food. The plant is common in South India.
Known in various names that give little clue of its lethality, Rosary Pea (Abrus precatorius) contains one of the most dangerous poisons from plants, Abrin. It is similar to Ricin in most cases, but hundred times more potent. However, it is slow to act in the human body and if anti-venom is administered in time, the victim can be saved. The plant is native to Indonesia.
Castor Bean (Ricinus communis) is known for producing castor oil which is widely used in cuisine and medicines. Yet it also produces one of the most potent poisons from the world of plants. Ricin, found in the seeds of castor beans, is more dangerous than snake venom and cyanide but only if inhaled. Eating the seeds can also be mildly harmful. If poisoned, the person may experience vomiting and cramps. It ultimately leads to kidney failure and death.
Also known as Jericho Rose, Oleander (Nerium oleander) is one of the most poisonous plants, and a common decorative plant native to Southeast Asia. All parts of the plant are poisonous, from root to the nectar. The presence of toxins such as nerioside and oldendrin contribute heavily to the lethality of the plant. The consumption of the plant parts are found to result in diarrhea, vomiting and variation in heart beats. It is said that even the smoke from a burning Oleander is poisonous.
Found along the coasts of South America, Manchineel (Hippomane mancinella) is an extremely dangerous tree. Apart from its fruit which is said to be poisonous, the most dangerous part is the milky sap of Manchineel which contains phorbol, a strong skin irritant. The contact with phorbol can result in blistering of the skin. The Carib natives are said to have used various parts of the tree in their weapons. It is no wonder that Manchineel is called the ‘little apple of death.’