Plants You Never Knew Were Poisonous

By Emily Grenfell

This country is home to some dangerous plants, yet you probably don’t know what they look like and what they can do. It’s never advisable to touch or eat a plant if you don’t know what it is, but if you suspect that you or someone you know has come into contact with any of the below, our babylon doctors are available within minutes.



All parts of the Yew tree are toxic to humans if eaten. The male Yew also releases a cytotoxic pollen which can cause headaches, lethargy, aching joints, itching, and skin rashes. It’s also a trigger for asthma. A deadly toxin called taxine is found in the needle-like leaves of all Yew trees.

Symptoms of Yew poisoning include:

-       increased heart rate

-       muscle tremors

-       convulsions

-       difficulty breathing

-       loss of circulation

-       cardiac arrest

There can also be no symptoms, and if the poisoning remains undetected it can be fatal within hours.



All parts of this plant are toxic, and the toxins can be absorbed through the skin. Deaths from Monkshood are rare, but eating the plant will cause your heart rate to slow, and even swallowing a small amount will cause an upset stomach.

The roots are especially poisonous, but people have been known to eat the roots and survive, so the amount needed to cause harm is unknown. Handle only when wearing gloves.




If any part of this plant is eaten it causes vomiting and diarrhoea, hallucinations, delirium, and severe headaches. Like Monkshood it can slow your heart rate causing heart attacks, and slight contact can cause skin irritation.

Foxglove has, however, saved lives as medicines used to treat heart conditions are derived from the plant.






Hemlock grows most commonly in ditches, along riverbanks, and undisturbed areas such as waste grounds and rubbish tips. It has white flowers and green stems with purple spots. If eaten, it causes sickness and, in the worst cases, death by paralysing the lungs.

Hemlock was used in the execution of Greek philosopher Socrates who was given a concentrated dose after being condemned to death for impiety in 399BC.



Giant Hogweed

Is a tall, striking plant that can grow to 3 metres (10 foot). The sap can cause severe burns, and if you attack the plant with regular cutting tools it can spit sap, causing blisters on exposed skin. The sap can also cause temporary or permanent blindness if it gets in your eye.

The sap actually causes the skin to lose its resistance to light, so you can avoid blistering by covering the affected area and washing thoroughly with soap and water. You’ll want to keep the affected area covered and protected from the sun for several days to avoid burning and blistering.


Giant Hogweed is very common throughout Europe.