Welcome to Our World of Plants, a modern open area for learning and understanding the mysteries of the plant world, A place of powerful, videos and articles that lend to understanding plants and their history of use in our world so you get the knowledge to help you in your endeavors, when you want it.
Plants make many chemical compounds for biological functions,
Aconite: or Monkshood is the common name for perennial herbs of the
genus Aconitum and for a preparation derived from them that was
formerly used in medicine. The genus, with more than 100 species,
belongs to the family Ranunculaceae The Butter Cup is also of this
family and is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
Several species, including A. napellus, a well known European species,
are cultivated as garden plants in the United States The common
Aconites have fibrous or tuberous roots, mostly erect stems, and
palmately divided or cleft leaves. The flowers in most species are blue
or purple, although some species have yellow or white flowers. The
outer, showy parts of the bilaterally symmetrical flower are five in
number, and the uppermost is shaped like a large, downward opening
hood. Because of this hood, which immediately distinguishes Aconite
from Larkspur, Aconites are commonly called Monkshood. They are also
known as Wolfsbane, Thor's Hat, and Helmetflower. They are 2 to 4 ft.
tall on weak often reclining stems.
Aconites contain highly active alkaloids, especially Aconitine, and are poisonous to both humans and animals. Monkshoods has long been considered one of the most dangerous plants of Europe. When eaten in small to moderate amounts, roots produce symptoms of restlessness, salivation, nausea, a weakened and irregular heartbeat, chest pain, prostration, and frequently death within hours. The poison aconite or aconitine is poison to both humans and animals. It has been used as a arrow poison.
Mayapple, common name for the plant genus Podophyllum, of the family
Berberidaceae (see BARBERRY). American mayapple or American mandrake,
P. peltatum, is a perennial herb of roadsides and woods in eastern
North America. The herbaceous aboveground parts of the plant arise from
a thick, underground rootstock that persists from year to year. It is
unusual in aspect, with one or two large, coarse, palmately lobed
leaves spread in umbrella fashion about 60 cm (about 24 in) above the
ground. Some mayapple plants bear only one leaf; these plants usually
do not flower. Other mayapples bear two leaves, and the flower appears
in the junction between the leaves. It is nodding, white or greenish
white, with six sepals, six or nine petals, and a single central
pistil. The fruit is an ovoid, yellow-blotched, fleshy "apple" that has
a sweet, slightly acid flavor.
Mayapple was used by the American Indians in treating various disorders. The plant, especially the roots, contains active toxic principles. It causes abnormalities in dividing plant and animal cells and has been used both by horticulturists for inducing desirable plant mutations and by medical researchers in attempting to control various types of cancer. Overdoses of the plant cause severe purging, digestive upset, and vomiting.
Arum, common name for the family Araceae, comprising about 2000
species of mostly herbaceous flowering plants, and for its
representative genus Arum. The family is world-wide in distribution,
and several species produce edible, starch-rich underground stems. Many
are grown as ornamentals.
The arum, or aroid, family consists primarily of herbs with a distinctive inflorescence (flower cluster): a large, often showy bract (the spathe) subtending and sometimes surrounding the spadix, a group of small, individually inconspicuous flowers borne on an elongated axis. Foul scents emitted by some inflorescences attract carrion flies, which then become trapped within the spathe and carry out pollination. The aroid family is mainly tropical, although some Temperate Zone members occur, including the Jack-In-The-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum, and Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus. Of the 100 or so genera in the family, more than half are cultivated, mostly for their attractive foliage or spathes. Many are successful houseplants because they are preadapted to severe conditions, being derived from tropical epiphytes, plants that grow on others for support but not for nutrients. The epiphytic habitat is similar to the home environment, it is shaded, far from the ground, and thus low in humidity, and it depends on watering from rains rather than from moisture in the soil. Among well-known aroids are Anthurium (including A. andraeanum, Flame Lily), Caladium, Colocasia (Elephant's Ear), Monstera, Philodendron, and Zantedeschia (Garden Calla).
The family belongs to the order Arales, which also contains the duckweed family, Lemnaceae, small aquatic herbs that often float on the water's surface. The smallest plant known, Wolffia, scarcely 1 mm . about four one hundreds of a inch in length, belongs to this group. A third family, Acoraceae, contains the genus Acorus, formerly placed in the family Araceae. Plants of the order Arales are members of the class Liliopsida in the division Magnoliophyta
Autumn Crocus, common name for a bulbous herb, Colchicum autumnale,
of the family Liliaceae (see LILY). Native to Europe and not a true
crocus, this garden plant, which is also called Meadow Saffron, takes
its name from its unusual pattern of flowering. In spring, several
large, straplike leaves grow from the bulb, more or less erect, to a
height of 60 cm (24 in) or more. When the leaves fall off in the
autumn, clusters of purple or white crocuslike flowers appear. Autumn
Crocus contains poisonous alkaloids, the principal one being
Colchicum autumnale, commonly known as autumn crocus, meadow saffron or naked lady, is a flower which resembles the true crocuses, but flowering in autumn. (This is not a reliable distinction, however, since there are many true crocuses that flower in autumn.) The name "naked lady" comes from the fact that the flowers emerge from the ground long after the leaves have died back.
The plant has been mistaken by foragers for ramsons, which it vaguely resembles, but is a deadly poison due to the presence of colchicine, a useful drug with a narrow therapeutic index. The symptoms of colchicine poisoning resemble those of arsenic and there is no antidote. Despite its toxicity, colchicine is an approved treatment for gout and is also used in plant breeding to produce polyploid strains. On January 18, 2008, the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (representing botanic gardens in 120 countries) stated that "400 medicinal plants are at risk of extinction, from over-collection and deforestation, threatening the discovery of future cures for disease." These included Yew trees (the bark is used for cancer drugs, paclitaxel); Hoodia (from Namibia, source of weight loss drugs); half of Magnolias (used as Chinese medicine for 5,000 years to fight cancer, dementia and heart disease); and Autumn crocus (for gout). The group also found that 5 billion people benefit from traditional plant-based medicine for health care.
Baneberry, common name for plants of the genus Actaea, of the family
Ranunculaceae. Deciduous plants of rich woods, baneberries are found in
the northern U.S. and southern Canada, growing to about 60 cm (about 24
inches) in height. They are sometimes cultivated in shady gardens as
perennials. The small, feathery, white flowers bloom in the spring, the
berries, which ripen in autumn, are white in A. alba, which is
sometimes called Doll's-Eyes; red in A. rubra; and black in A. spicata,
a species imported from Europe. The berries in all species are
conspicuous, attractive to children, and poisonous. They contain an
essential oil that produces severe gastroenteritis if eaten, but rarely
with fatal results.
The genus is closely related to Cimicifuga and Souliea, and many botanists include those genera within Actaea .based on combined evidence from DNA sequence data, similarity in biochemical constituents and on morphology; . . Actaea. have fleshy fruit while the remainder have dry fruit. The genus is treated here in its narrow sense, comprising four to eight species.
Selected species Actaea asiatica, Actaea pachypoda - White Baneberry, White Cohosh, Doll's Eyes, Actaea rubra , Red Baneberry, Actaea spicata - Baneberry, Herb Christopher Actaea is recorded as a food plant for the larva of the Dot Moth.
Baneberry contains cardiogenic toxins than can have an immediate sedative affect on human cardiac muscle tissue. The berries are the most poisonous part of the plant (hence the name baneberry). Ingestion of the berries can lead to cardiac arrest and death. The berries are harmless to birds, the plant's primary seed disperser. Actaea species are closely related to plants in the genus Aconitum, a highly toxic plant genus which contains wolfbane and several varieties of monkshood.
The root of Actaea rubra was used medicinally by Native Americans and has a long history of use as a strong alternative to Black Cohosh, for menstrual cramping and menopausal discomfort. The roots of Actaea rubra contain ß-sitosterol glucoside.
Belladonna. (Atropa belladonna) is well known as a highly poisonous species capable of inducing various kinds of hallucinations. It entered into the folklore and mythology of virtually all European peoples, who feared its deadly power. It was one of the ingredients of the truly hallucinogenic brews and ointments concocted by the so-called witches of medieval Europe. The attractive shiny berries of the plant still often cause it to be accidentally eaten, with resultant poisoning. The name belladonna. ("beautiful lady" in Italian).. comes from a curious custom practiced by italian women of high society during medieval times. They would drop the sap of the plant into the eye to dilate the pupil enormously, inducing a kind of drunken or glassy stare, considered in that period to enhance feminine beauty and sensuality. The main active principle in belladonna is the alkaloid hyoscyamine, but the more psychoactive scopolamine is also present. Atropine has also been found, but whether it is present in the living plant or is formed during extraction is not cleor. Belladonna is a commercial source of atropine, an alkaloid with a wide variety of uses in modern medicine, especially as an antispasmodic, an antisecretory, and as a mydriatic and cardiac stimulant. The alkaloids occur throughout the plant but are concentrated especially in the leaves and roots. There are four species of Atropa distributed in Europe and from central Asia to the Himalayas. Atropa belongs to the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Belladonna is native to Europe and Asia Minor. Until the 19th century, commercial collection was primarily from wild sources, but since that time cultivation has been initiated in the United States, Europe, and India, where it is an important source of medicinal drugs.
Bitteersweet, common name for the family Celastraceae. (also known
as the staff tree family), a group of woody, often viny plants, and for
its representative genus Celastrus, especially C. scandens, also called
American, or climbing bittersweet. The family contains about 55 genera
and 850 species, which occur mainly in subtropical and tropical
regions. The flowers of Celastraceae are small and greenish with three
to five sepals, petals, and stamens. A disk of fleshy tissue is between
the stamens and the pistil. The flowers are inconspicuous, but the
fruits are sometimes brightly colored, and the seeds are covered by a
colored aril (a fleshy outgrowth from the seed itself). Some members
are grown as ornamentals, particularly members of the genus Euonymus, a
diverse group of trees, shrubs, and woody climbers, some of which
produce brilliant autumn colors, such as Burning Bush or Wahoo, E.
atropurpurea. Others provide a variety of products, fine-grained wood
for carving and turning, Arabian tea from the Middle Eastern Khat tree
, vegetable oils and dyes, and extracts for medicines. This family of
dicots is one of 12, including the Holly family, Aquifoliaceae, in the
European bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) is an unrelated plant of the nightshade family. A native of Britain, it is naturalized in the eastern U.S. All parts are poisonous and if eaten in generous quantities may be fatal.
Bleeding Heart, common name for the genus Dicentra, of the fumitory family, Fumariaceae, with about 19 species of perennial herbs native to North America and Asia, often cultivated for their attractive fernlike leaves and interestingly shaped flowers borne along the stems. The petals are slightly united into flattened, heart-shaped, or spurred corollas, colors are yellow, white, or various shades of red. The garden Bleeding Heart (D. spectabilis), originally from Japan, bears deep-pink to red blossoms hung profusely under arching stems, it is a popular hanging houseplant. Other well-known species are Squirrel Corn (D. canadensis), Dutchman's-breeches (D. cucullaria), and Turkey Corn, or Wild Bleeding Heart (D. eximia), all of eastern North America; and Western Bleeding Heart (D. formosa) and Steers head (D. uniflora), of western North America. Alkaloid poisons of the poppy type are present in all parts of Dicentra species.
The Blue Cohosh is 1 to 4 feet tall, the flower is 1/2 inches wide.
The Blue Cohosh stand erect, branching leaves divided into many lobed
leaflets. The flowers are greenish purple. The berry like the blue
seeds are in loose clusters. They are found in rich woods. Indians gave
the name Cohosh to several unrelated plants with two things in common,
they serve medical purposes, and they bear poisonous berries. The Blue
Cohosh, which is the only species of Caulophyllum, is also called
Papoose Root, because Indians used it to hasten childbirth.
In using the Blue Cohosh one would do well to consult a herbalist. Often the strength of the plants properties vary, depending on the age of the plant as well as the growing condition of the area. It has been noted that in dry climates, or in a dry year the properties of plants can be a lot stronger.
(Inducing early childbirth is dangerous, and can be harmful to the mother and child.)
Box, or boxwood, common name for the plant family Buxaceae, of the order Euphorbiales, especially for members of the genus Buxus. Common box, Buxus sempervirens, is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia. A woody shrub with many horticultural varieties, it is frequently used, clipped or unclipped, as a hedge or singly for ornament. It has small, oval, opposite, somewhat leathery leaves, that are dark, glossy green on the upper surface and lighter underneath, and petalless flowers. The foliage contains alkaloids and other active principles that, when ingested, cause severe irritation of the digestive system and possibly death. Clippings should not be thrown where they may be eaten by grazing animals.
Bracken or Brake is the common names for any fern of the genus
Pteridium, especially the common bracken, P. aquilinum. They are
distinguished from other ferns in part by their spore cases, which are
situated near the margin of the back of the leaf, and covered by its
turned under margin. Common bracken, in several varieties, is abundant
in most parts of the world, growing in thickets, pastures, and open
woodlands. The fronds arise singly from a thick underground rootstalk
and are divided and redivided several times in pinnate fashion. The
rootstalk, when cut across, exhibits an outline like a spread eagle,
accounting for the species name (Lat. Aquila, "Eagle").
Bracken fiddleheads (the very young, unrolling Frond) are boiled and eaten as greens in some areas of the Unites Sates and Canada. The uncooked plant contains an enzyme (thiamin ase) capable of destroying thiamine (vitamiaB1) in the diet and of causing, in simple-stomached animals such as the horse, a disease similar to beriberi with possibly fatal results. Cows, goats, sheep, and other ruminants produce thiamine in their digestive systems and are not affected by the thiamin as in bracken. The fern contains a second poisonous principle that is not destroyed by cooking. It causes slow destruction, characterized by massive hemorrhages of the bone marrow throughout the body, and eventual death if the bracken is consumed in large quantities. Even though Bracken was used as a food in earlier times, it is felt that they were not aware of the second poisonous principle of the bracken, possibly because of the slow nature of the of the poison.
Buckeye: or Horse Chestnut, common name for a family of trees,
Hippocastanaceae, order Sapindales (or SOAPBERRY), and especially for
the species Aesculus hippocastanum. The family, which contains about 15
species placed in 2 genera, occurs in the North Temperate Zone. The
trees are dicots characterized by large winter buds covered with sticky
scales, opposite, palmate leaves, and large clusters of attractive
yellow, red, or whitish irregular flowers with four or five petals. The
fruits are leathery, three-valved capsules containing large, brown
The genus Aesculus contains about 13 species, which are often grown as ornamentals. A. hippocastanum is a native of Europe but has been widely planted in North America since colonial days. Most of the other members of the genus, commonly called buckeyes, are popular ornamental and shade trees; two of them called Ohio Buckeye, A. glabra, and Yellow Buckeye, A. octandraare valuable timber trees. Most North American buckeyes occur in the east. Only one, the California buckeye, A. californica, is native to the West. The attractive seeds of buckeyes contain a poison, aesculin, that causes vomiting and paralysis. Billia, the other genus in the family, contains two species occuring from southern Mexico to tropical South America.
Bugbane, common name for the plant genus Cimicifuga, of the family Ranunculaceae (or BUTTERCUP). The genus comprises about 15 species of tall, upright perennial herbs of the North Temperate Zone. The leaves are large and several times compound; the flowers are small and white, usually in spike-shaped clusters. Bugbane plants are natives of rich, shaded woods and are sometimes grown in wild gardens or in partially shaded garden areas. The common name is a direct translation of the scientific name, which was applied to the genus because some species, especially C. foetida of Europe and C. racemosa of the U.S., contain resins that are repellent to insects.
Buttercup common name for a family, Ranunculaceae, of flowering
plants and for its representative genus Ranunculus. The family
comprises about 58 genera and 1750 species and contains many
ornamentals, including adonis, clematis, delphinium, anemone, larkspur,
and columbine. Buttercups of the genus Ranunculus possess shiny,
conspicuous, lemon-yellow, cup-shaped flowers. Common species include
the Tall buttercup (R. acris) and the Bulbous buttercup (R. bulbosus),
both widely distributed in pastures and meadows, although the latter is
restricted to the eastern U.S. Cursed Crowfoot (R. sceleratus) and
Small-flowered Buttercup (R. abortivus) have smaller petals and are
less conspicuous. Buttercups, Marsh Marigold, and some other members of
the buttercup family produce a harmless glycoside in their tissues.
This compound, however, breaks down spontaneously to form an oily
substance, protoanemonin, which is a strong irritant. Buttercups are
usually avoided by livestock, but, if eaten, may produce severe
irritation of the mouth and digestive system. Drying of the plant
causes further spontaneous change, and hay containing buttercups cannot
harm grazing livestock.
The family is placed in the order Ranunculales. Plants in the order are almost all herbaceous (nonwoody) or climbers and are most abundant in temperate areas of the world. Many species are of ornamental value, a few are common weeds, and some are poisonous to mammals, including humans.
The order is diverse, but several features are shared by many members of the group. Vegetatively, these include the herbaceous trait, alternately arranged leaves that lack stipules (small leaf-like appendages at the leaf bases), and the production of alkaloids. Flower parts are usually numerous, spirally arranged, and not fused. Members of the order occupy a wide range of habitats, deserts being the only areas in which they are not well represented. In general, however, the Ranunculales are adapted to moist-to-wet habitats.
The brightly colored flowers found in most of the order function to attract insects for pollination. The order has two flower types: pollen flowers, such as those of the Clematis genus, and nectar flowers, such as those of columbines (genus Aquilegia).
Five of the eight families included in the order contain only a few species. The largest family after the Ranunculaceae, the Berberidaceae (or BARBERRY), with about 650 species, mostly North Temperate, includes the mayapple and several useful ornamentals such as Oregon grape (genus Mahonia) and barberry (Berberis). The Menispermaceae is a family of about 400 species of climbers found throughout the Tropics. A kind of curare used as a muscle relaxant is obtained from one of its members.
Plants of the order Ranunculales are members of the class Magnoliopsida in the division Magnoliophyta
Caladium, is the common name for plants of the genera Caladium and Xanthosoma of the family Araceae (or ARUM). Caladiums are commonly grown as houseplants and garden plants for their showy foliage. Wide variation is found in the colors and markings of the attractive, large, single-bladed leaves, which rise on long stalks from fleshy, underground bulblike corms. Under some circumstances, the corms and other parts of the plant may contain needle-shaped raphide crystals of calcium oxalate, a substance that causes an intense, burning irritation if eaten.
Cashew, common name for a tropical evergreen tree, Anacardium occidentale, for its edible nuts, and for the family to which the tree belongs, Anacardiaceae, of the order Sapindales (or Soapberry). The family also includes Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac and the Mango, the Pistachio, and the Smoke Tree. The Cashew tree, native to the Americas, is now widely cultivated in Asia (especially India) and Africa for its nuts and other products. It grows as high as 12 meters (40 ft) and has leathery, oval leaves. The fragrant, reddish flowers grow in clusters, and the pear-shaped fruits, called cashew apples, are reddish or yellowish. At the end of each fruit is a kidney-shaped ovary, the nut, with a hard double shell. Between the shells is a caustic, black oil that has to be removed by a difficult roasting process; the oil is used in the plastics and varnish industries. Another roasting removes the second shell, freeing the nut. The trunk of the tree yields a milky gum also used to make varnish. The sour fruits can be eaten after processing and are used in making condiments.
Castor bean, also castor-oil plant, common name for the plant species Ricinus communis, of the family Euphorbiaceae (or SPURGE). Native to tropical Africa, where it grows to 12 meters (40 ft) or more, it is widely planted in temperate areas as an annual ornamental for its large, lobed, fanlike leaves. It rarely exceeds 4.5 meters (15 ft) in height in cooler climates. The bean-shaped seeds, castor beans, contain the castor oil of commerce, and in Brazil, India, and Thailand the plant is an important crop. The orange flowers are without petals and are clustered in long panicles, the fruit is covered with soft, orange-brown spines. All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans and animals, the seeds are extremely poisonous.
The Cocklebur is a coarse, rough, or spiny plant, with heart-shaped
leaves, a spotted stem, and a small head of greenish flowers. The fruit
is a burr with hooked bristles by which it clings to animals and
disseminates its seeds. The plant, which grows to about 1 meter, (about
3 ft.) is widely distributed, chiefly on wasteland. The Cocklebur is
often confused with the Burdock .
The flowering season is the latter part of July to the first part of September. Burs become particularly conspicuous when frosts have thinned, and browned the vegetation.
It can be found in moist to wet soil of fields, waste places, and silted flooded areas over most of the earth, except high in the mountains. There are probably only 2 species in the Rockies, though numerous variations have been described as species.
< Strumarium means having cushion like swellings. This is thought to have been originally an American plant which by means of its burs has been scattered to other continents. It was first found in Europe about 50 years after Columbus discovered America. The burs are a nuisance to both the hunter and his dogs. The seeds within the burs are edible raw and were eaten whole or made into meal by the Indians. Young Cocklebur plants in the tender 2-leaf stage contain a poisonous glycoside that is fatally poisonous to sheep, cattle, and particularly hogs. The mature burs when eaten by livestock can cause mechanical injury followed by infection of the digestive tract.
The Corn Cockle is an annual hairy weed of the pink family ( the
flowers of this family were not named for their color, but for the
frilled or pinked, appearance of their petals) that grows from 1 to 3
ft. tall. with purplish red flowers that are held by leaf-like spikes
atop slender stems. The leaves lack stipules (leaf-like appendages at
the base of the stalk.) They bloom from July through September. The are
found in roadsides, pastures, waste places ,and grain fields.
Despite its pretty pink flower, the Corn Cockle species is more often cursed than admired in most areas because it is a dangerous weed around winter wheat. Its poisonous seeds mature along with the grain, and because they are the same size, and weight they cannot easily be winnowed out.
This plant has no know food or medical value. It's poisons are not of the type that would be of use as a pest control. It is not believed to be used by any of the animals of the wild with the Honey Bee maybe being the only exception.
The Corn Lily is 2 to 6 ft. tall, the flowers are 1/2 to 1 inch Wide
the flowers are white, star like, clustered in several dense spikes at
top of stem, large leaves clasping the stem at the base, with pleat
like veins. They can be found in wet woods, swamps, mountain meadows,
and stream banks. It blooms from June to August.
Indian Poke a second member of this family is 2 to 7 ft. tall, the flowers are 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide. The yellow-green flowers are, star like, clustered in several dense spikes, lower spikes drooping at the top of stem. The large leaves, clasping stem at the base, with pleat like veins. This plant can be found in wet woods, mountain meadows, swamps, and on stream banks. It blooms from May to August. These members of the lily family have little in common with true hellebores-Eurasian members of the buttercup family beyond the fact that the plants of both group's are poisonous. This group's toxic alkaloids work through the nervous system to depress the heartbeat and reduce blood pressure. They were used medicinally by many Indian people, as well as by ancient herbalists in Europe and Asia, and are part of modern medicine's arsenal for treating hypertension.
The Crow Poison north oh SKOR dum buyval is of Lily Family with Other common names of false garlic, wild garlic, yellow false garlic,. Blooms are white to near white all growing season. Crow poison looks much like wild onion but does not have the onion smell. This early spring to fall flower is one of the first to appear on lawns, meadows, or roadsides throughout much of the country. It grows from a bulb and looks much like the wild onion, but has fewer and larger flowers on long stems and lacks the onion odor. The leaves are all at the base of the plant, about 1/8 inch wide, but often quite long, 4 2 15 inches. The white flowers have 6 petals with a green to brown stripe, and 6 stamens. Individual flowers are ½ 2 1 inch across and grow in loose clusters on stalks 8 2 16 inches tall. It is an upright perennial with a white flower about 1 inch in diameter and consists of six petals.The Wild onion looks almost the same and has a strong onion fragrance when crushed; the crow poison does not.. It is a common rule for outdoor people to eat no plant that looks like a onion but does not smell like a onion.
The Death Camas is 1 to 3 ft. Tall. The flower is 1/2 to 1 inch.
Wide. The star-like flower are white with green centers, in wand like
cluster, at the erect stem. The glass like leaves are mostly clustered
at base of stem. They are found in mountain meadows, prairies, open
woods. They bloom through June through August. The most notable
difference between a camas and a Death Camas is that, if you eat the
bulb of a Death Camas, you will probably die. Because camas bulbs are
not at their best during flowering season, when their blue blossoms set
them apart, it was important for Indian food gatherers to recognize
subtle differences between the bulbs.
The root of the death camas is extremely poisonous, and the difference in appearance is so small that if mixed with roots of other camases they could easily go unnoticed. It is believed that they were used to poison Eli Harmon a fur trader of the Ozarks in the early eighteen hundreds.
The Desert Plume is 1 to 5 ft. tall, and the flower is 1/2 inch. wide. The flowers are yellow, in long spires atop blue-green stems. The leaves are very divided. They are found in the desert scrub, and dry prairies. They bloom from April through September. The leaves of most plants in the mustard family make good potherbs if boiled in two changes of water. The Prince's Plumes, sometimes called Paiute Cabbages or Squaw Cabbage, are no exception (squaw cabbage is a completely different plant). But because these plants accumulate the poisonous element selenium, often found in the desert soils and dry plains where they grow, they may be toxic if eaten raw or undercooked.
Diggitalis, genus of plants of the family Scrophulariaceae. One
species introduced from Europe, the common Foxglove, Digitalis
purpurea, is a self-seeding biennial or perennial herb, widely grown in
gardens and naturalized along roadsides and in meadows or logged-off
areas, especially in the western U.S. The naturalized plant bears a
showy, terminal cluster of hanging, tubular, spotted, purple flowers.
Cultivated varieties are of various colors and markings. The erect
stems are about 91 cm (about 36 inchs) tall with numerous large, thick
leaves at the base.
Digitalis, a drug prepared from digitalin, a glycoside obtained from D. purpurea, is used in medicine. With techniques of modern pharmacology, about a dozen steroid glycosides have been isolated from the leaves. The best known of these exert a two fold action on the heart that results in a more effective heartbeat. These medicines strengthen the force of contractions and, at the same time, slow the beat so that the period of relaxation between beats is lengthened. The heart muscle thus obtains more rest even though it is working harder.
Poisoning may occur in humans or grazing animals if more than a small amount of the glycoside enters the system. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and gross disturbances in heartbeat and pulse. In sufficient amounts, Digitalis can lead to convulsions and death.
Dogbane, common name for plants of the genus Apocynum and for the family Apocynaceae of the order Gentianales, to which the genus belongs. Two species, Spreading Dogbane, A. androsaemifolium, and Indian Hemp, A. cannabinum, are widely distributed in the U.S. and Canada on poor soils of waste areas, roadsides, and gravel banks. Both species are perennial herbs and somewhat woody, the former is more branched and spreading than the latter. They have opposite leaves, copious milky juice, and pencillike pods hanging in clusters. The pods are filled at maturity with a cottony mass of milk-weedlike fuzz and seeds. Indian hemp was used by American Indians as a source of fiber for making rope. Vegetation of both species contains a number of glycosides, which make them toxic when eaten. Other members of the family include Periwinkle and Oleander.
Dumb Cane, the common name for some plants of the genus
Dieffenbachia, especially D. seguine, of the family Araceae. frequently
grown as ornamental foliage plants. A full-grown dumb cane is at least
1.8 meters (6 ft) tall with a thick, erect stem scarred by the points
of detachment of dropped leaves. The leaves are large, ovate,
simple-bladed, and stalked. The leaf blade has a strong central vein
with a large number of secondary veins running from the main vein to
the edge of the blade. Its leaves usually have irregular areas of
lighter green, yellow, or off-white that follow the veining pattern.
The leaves and stem contain dangerous quantities of needle-shaped crystals of calcium oxalate. The plant's name is derived from the fact that a person who chews it may experience an intense burning sensation and then lose speech. In severe cases, swelling at the base of the tongue may block the air passage of the throat, with fatal results if not treated in time.
Elder, also elderberry, common name for trees or shrubs of the genus Sambucus, of the family Caprifoliaceae. About 20 species occur in widely distributed areas. The common elder of Europe, S. nigra, grows to 9 meters (30 ft) in height and is sometimes grown in North America. It has large compound leaves, dense, flat clusters of cream-colored flowers, and, later, black berries. The American, or sweet, elder, S. canadensis, common along roads and in neglected meadows in the U.S., resembles S. nigra, except that it has white flowers and purplish-black berries. Its thick, soft stems break easily and are filled with a cottony pith. The American red-berried elder, S. pubens, is noted for its scarlet fruit, as is the European red elder, S. racemosa. The berries of many elder are used for making wines and jellies. The plants themselves, however, and especially the roots, contain active ingredients that produce severe purging if eaten. In some cases children have been poisoned by using the stems as straws or blowguns. Animals usually avoid elder.
Fly Poison: Many plants that look a like are highly poison like the
Fly Poison plant. The Fly Poison plant is 1 to 4 ft. tall with flowers
that are white to greenish, in a oval to cylindrical cluster atop
upright stalk. The leaves are slender, strap like, clustered at the
base of the stalk. They are found in open sandy woods, meadows, bogs.
They bloom from May to July.
It is a rule of survival among hikers and campers to eat no wild plant
that looks like an onion but does not smell like one. This group's only
species is one good reason why. It was named by the colonists, who
mashed the bulb and mixed the pulp with sugar to kill flies. The entire
plant contains alkaloids strong enough to kill livestock as well.
People have died from handling the foliage and then failing to wash
their hands before eating.
Many times people use poisonous plants for one reason or another. Even when some other plant or another substance that is not toxic would have the same effect. This plant is one of those plants. When considering using a poisonous plant it is wise to check to see if another non-toxic plant or substance would fit the use equally well. Most times when a plant has pest control uses they also have harmful effects if not used properly, or in improper dosage.
Fox Glove: See DIGITALIS.
Fruze, the common name for any plant of the genus Ulex, of the family Fabaceae. also known as gorse. Common Furze, U. europaeus, is native to Great Britain and western Europe. It is a thorny evergreen shrub with sharply pointed leaves and solitary flowers having a two-lipped, shaggy, deep yellow calyx subtended by two small bracts. The fruit is a pod. In mild climates the flower blooms all winter. In its natural state furze provides food for sheep; after the spines are removed, the shoots provide winter fodder for horses and cattle. Furze is sometimes planted as a sand binder; U. europaeus, introduced to the eastern coast of the U.S. from Nantucket to Virginia, serves in this capacity. Seeds of U. europaeus yield a poisonous alkaloid, ulexine, which was formerly used as a local anesthetic and diuretic.
Goat's Rue or Horey Pea:, . The Goat's Rue is 6 to 30 inches tall, the flower 1/2 to 3/4 inch long. The flowers are pink to purple with yellow upper lips, borne in dense cluster. The leaves are divided into narrow leaflets, covered with silky silver hairs. The plant can be found in dry open woods, fields, and prairies (often in sand). This plant blooms from May through August. These legumes have a variety of names. Toxic to mammals, yet many birds eat the seeds. The plants came to be called turkey peas in areas where those wild fowl were once abundant. The tough rootstocks earned the names Devil's Shoestring and Catgut. Used by Indians to poison fish, the roots are a source of the insecticide rotenone.
The Goldenseal is 6 to 18 inches tall, the flower is 1/2 to 3/4 inch. wide. The solitary flower is creamy yellow atop a hairy stem with two handed shaped hairy leaves. The fruit cluster are red berries (in summer). This plant is found in rich woods, it blossom through the months of April to May. Once abundant, the only American goldenseal is rare now because its thick yellow roots have had great commercial value. They were used to treat dyspepsia, (a skin eruptions), and hemorrhage. They were also a source of a yellow dye and a insect repellent. Lewis and Clark described Goldenseal to Thomas Jefferson as a "sovereign remedy for sore eyes.
Physalis peruviana (commonly known as physalis, Cape gooseberry,
ground-cherry, golden berry, uchuva, Inca berry, or uvilla--which also
can refer to the Amazon Grape) is a species of Physalis indigenous to
South America, but grows well in Africa. It is related to the tomato,
potato, and other members of the nightshade family and closely related
to the tomatillo (but not to the cherry, gooseberry or Chinese
gooseberry, as its various names might suggest). The fruit is a small
round berry, about the size of a marble, full of small seeds. It is
bright yellow when ripe, and very sweet, making it ideal for baking
into pies and making jam. Another recent use is in fruit salads,
combined with avocado.
Its most notable feature is the single papery pod that covers each berry. Because of the fruit's decorative appearance, it is sometimes used in restaurants as an exotic garnish for desserts. Besides, if the fruit is left inside the husks, its shelf life at room temperature is over 30-45 days.
Native to Colombia, Chile and Peru where the fruits are casually eaten and occasionally sold in markets but the plant is still not an important crop, it has been widely introduced into cultivation in other tropical, subtropical and even temperate areas. The plant was grown by early settlers of the Cape of Good Hope before eighteen O seven. In South Africa it is commercially cultivated; canned fruits and jam are staple commodities, often exported. It is also cultivated and naturalized on a small scale in Gabon and other parts of Central Africa.
Soon after its adoption in the Cape of Good Hope (presumably the origin of the name 'Cape gooseberry') it was carried to Australia, where it was one of the few fresh fruits of the early settlers in New South Wales. There it has long been grown on a large scale and is abundantly naturalized, as it is also in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and northern Tasmania. It is also grown in New Zealand where it is said that "the housewife is sometimes embarrassed by the quantity of berries in the garden", and government agencies promote increased culinary use.
It has been recently cultivated in Chile, yielding to a produce with an amazing flavour and aroma (compared with the tropically grown fruit), direct consequence of the large temperature difference between day and night find in southern Chile, the tradeoff being that there is production from December to May only.
Organic dried Goldenberry from Colombia can now be found in the United States at natural food stores, including Whole Foods. It is imported and packaged by Kopali Organics, a specialty organic food purveyor
Hellsbore a common name for plants of the genus Helleborus, of the
family Ranunculaceae. Hellebores are native to Eurasia. The flowers
have five large, petallike sepals, eight to ten inconspicuous tubular
petals, many stamens, and three to ten pistils. Green hellebore, or
Christmas flower, H. viridis, produces yellow flowers in late winter or
early spring outdoors. It is occasionally used in gardens and has
become naturalized in the eastern U.S. The more common black hellebore,
or Christmas rose, H. niger, bears large white flowers outdoors in
midwinter to early spring.
The false hellebores belong to the genus Veratrum, of the family Liliaceae. Eastern false hellebore, V. viride, is a conspicuous perennial herb of wet open woods and meadows throughout much of the U.S. It has numerous large leaves that are narrow at both ends and are accordion pleated lengthwise. Western false hellebore, V. californicum, of high spring range country, is similar in appearance. The rootstocks of these plants and of the related European white hellebore, V. album, are known to contain a number of alkaloids. Recently, it has been discovered that the vegetation of false hellebores can produce birth abnormalities in sheep and other animals if eaten by the dam at a particular time in pregnancy. The susceptible period is less than one day. The common deformity produced, known as cyclopia, is malformation of the face resulting in a single median eye or two eyeballs in a single central socket.
Henbane the common name for an herb, Hyoscyamus niger, of the family Solanaceae. Henbane has been introduced into North America and is now naturalized in widely scattered locations across the northern U.S. and southern Canada. The plant is coarse, hairy, and evil-smelling and bears alternate, bluntly lobed leaves. The flowers are bell-shaped, displaying a dull yellow, five-pointed tube streaked with purple and surrounded by a green five-pointed calyx that continues to grow and encloses the fruit as it matures. Henbane leaves and seeds are poisonous; they contain alkaloids, especially hyoscyamine, hyoscine (scopolamine), and atropine, and have been used in medicine since ancient times.
Indian Hemp or Dogbane is the common name for plants of the genus Apocynum and for the family Apocynaceae of the order Gentianales, to which the genus belongs. Two species, Spreading Dogbane, and Indian hemp, are widely distributed in the United States and Canada on poor soils of waste areas, road sides, and gravel banks. Both species are perennial herbs and somewhat woody. The former is more branched and spreading than the latter. They have opposite leaves, copious milky juice, and pencil like pods hanging in clusters. The pods are filled at maturity with a cottony mass of milk-wed like fuzz and seeds. Indian hemp was used by American Indians as a source of fiber for making rope, fish nets, and even clothing. To obtain the fiber, they treated the stem in much the same way that flax is treated. First the stems were retted, or allowed to soak in water until the soft tissues rotted. Then they were beaten to separate into the fibers, which were rinsed and combed clean. Vegetation of both species contains a number of glycosides, which make them toxic when eaten. Other members of the family include periwinkle and oleander.
Indian Poke is 2 to 7 ft. tall, the flowers are 1/2 to 3/4 inch
wide. The yellow-green flowers are star like, clustered in several
dense spikes, lower spikes drooping at the top of stem. The large
leaves, clasping stem at the base, with pleat like veins. This plant
can be found in wet woods, mountain meadows, swamps, and on stream
banks. It blooms from May to August.
These members of the lily family have little in common with true hellebores-Eurasian members of the buttercup family beyond the fact that the plants of both group's are poisonous. This group's toxic alkaloids work through the nervous system to depress the heartbeat and reduce blood pressure. They were used medicinally by many Indian people, as well as by ancient herbalists in Europe and Asia, and are part of modern medicine's arsenal for treating hypertension.
Indian Tobacco the common name for a subfamily of plants, the Lobelioideae, of the bellflower family, and the scientific name for the group's typical genus. The subfamily consists of herbs, native to temperate and tropical regions of the western hemisphere, that produce an acrid, milky juice called latex. Flowers of the subfamily are tubular, with five petals and a solitary pistil. The fruit is a many-seeded pod. Cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, is a tall, perennial herb bearing (vertical clusters) of large, crimson flowers. It is native to wet places in the northeastern U.S. . Dwarf-blue lobelia, L. erinus, is an annual herb, native to southern Africa, which grows less than 30 cm (12 inches high) and bears blue or violet flowers. Great lobelia, or blue cardinal flower, L. siphilitica, a perennial herb native to northern North America, is of medium height and produces blue flowers. Indian tobacco, L. inflata, is a tall annual bearing light-blue flowers with minute petals. The plant, native to temperate North America, produces a poisonous alkaloid, lobeline, formerly used as a constituent of quack medicines for its nicotinelike taste. Water lobelia, L. dortmanna, is an aquatic plant, native to pond borders of the northern hemisphere, that produces white or pale-blue flowers. Most garden lobelias of the U.S. are cardinal flowers, dwarf-blue lobelias, great lobelias, or hybrids between these and other lobelias.
Jimsomweed the common name for a plant, Datura stramonium, of the family Solanaceae, and for some other related plants. Jimson-weed is native to North America and is now naturalized around the world. It is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental or for its alkaloids. The plant is a large annual herb with conspicuous white-to-purple tubular flowers up to 10 cm (4 inches long) and large, round, spiny fruits. The alkaloids, produced in the leaves, seeds, and other parts of the plant, are poisonous; ingestion can result in convulsions, coma, and even death.
Kalmia latifolia a genus of evergreen shrubs, native to North America, of the family Ericaceae . The regular, almost perfectly pentagonal flowers have five petals, ten stamens, and a solitary, five-celled pistil. The fruit is a globular, many-seeded capsule. Mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia, is common on rocky slopes and sandy soils of the north-eastern U.S.. , and eastern Canada. The shrub grows about 1 to 2 meters (about 3 to 6 ft tall) in the north and as much as 10.7 meters (35 ft tall) in the southern part of its range. The bowlshaped flowers are waxy white or pink. Sheep laurel, lambkill, or wicky, K. angustifolia, is a smaller shrub, seldom more than 1 meter (3 ft high) , native to bogs, pastures, and swamps of eastern Canada and the eastern U.S... It has crimson or pale crimson flowers with pink-tinted stamens. Pale laurel, K. poliifolia, is a straggly shrub, usually about 30 cm (about 12 inches high,) native to cool bogs and mountains of the U.S. and Canada. It produces small rose-purple flowers. The flowering season for all three species is from late May to early July. Their leaves contain a poisonous crystalline substance that is extremely harmful to livestock.
Locoweed is the common name for several species of plants of the
family Fabaceae or Legume. Native to Western North America, some
locoweed species cause locoism, a disease of the nervous system in
animals, especially cattle. The disease, which is characterized by
hallucinations, slow gait, and lusterless hair, Can possibly cause
Locoweeds are members of the genera Astragalus and Oxytropis, but only a few species in each genus cause locoism. A number of other species of Astragalus are the source of gum tragacanth, which is useful in the textile and paper industries. Because other species accumulate Selenium, their occurrence may serve as an indicator of the rare and industrially important element found in soils. Selenium is a poisonous element, and should be handled with caution.
Ranchers may call any of several poisonous plants locoweeds, but the name properly belongs to this group and to various milk vetches that contain the same addictive, slow-acting poison. animals seldom eat locoweed unless drought or overgrazing forces them to, then they may become habituated and search for more, even when tastier forage is available. Yellow Locoweed (Ostropis campestris) is widespread in Canada and the Northern United States.
Lupin the common name for the genus Lupinus, comprising a large group of annual or perennial herbs of the family Fabaceae. Of the approximately 200 species of lupines, most are native to the western U.S. .. and the Mediterranean. The leaves, palmately compound, have up to 15 leaflets; the showy, pealike flowers grow in long terminal spikes, or racemes. The fruit is a flat pod, constricted between the seeds. Many annual lupines are cultivated small seeded species as garden ornamentals and large-seeded species as cover crops, forage, and human food. Lupines are widely cultivated in the Gulf states. Many contain a mildly toxic alkaloid, lupinine. Ingestion of lupine by cattle may cause temporary fever and prostration.
Marsh Marigold is the common name for a perennial herb, Caltha
Palustris, of the family Ranunculaceae,, or Buttercup. Marsh marigolds,
which are often erroneously called Cowslips, are native to marshes and
wet places of the Eastern United States and Eastern Canada. They are
also widely distributed in Eurasia. They are stocky plants, about 20 to
60 cm (about 8 to 24 inches high) , which bear round, heart-shaped, or
kidney-shaped leaves and bright, golden-yellow flowers. The flowers
have five to nine petal like sepals, no petals, many stamens, and five
to ten pistils. The fruit is a many-seeded follicle. Slender and
creeping kinds of Marsh Marigold are native to the colder parts of
Eastern North America.
Although these plants are called marigolds, they actually belong to the buttercup family. Crowds of their cheery flowers and glistening leaves brighten wet-lands throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The leaves are often eaten cooked, but are poisonous to humans and most animals if eaten raw. Elk and Moose, however, feed with impunity on the Elkslip as the marsh marigold is refered to some areas.
Milkvetch, or Astragalus is a large genus of about 3,000 species of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae and the subfamily Faboideae. It is the largest genus of plants in terms of described species. The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Common names include milkvetch (most species), locoweed (in North America, some species) and goat's-thorn (A. gummifer, A. tragacanthus). Some pale-flowered vetches are similar in appearance, but vetches are more vine-like.
Milkweed, the common name for the plant family Asclepiadaceae, and
for plants of the genus Asclepias, which typifies the family. Many of
the 120 species of the genus are native to North America, and many of
them are distributed widely. These perennial herbs have erect stems,
opposite or whorled leaves, and small, unusual flowers borne in
clusters at the top or along the stem of the plant. The colored parts
of each flower are organized in two five-membered whorls. Milkweeds may
be divided into two groups: those with broad leaves and those with
narrow leaves. Both are characterized by copious milky sap, called
latex, and by inflated fruit pods tightly packed with silky or cottony
fuzz. At maturity the pod cover dries, opens, and releases many large,
flat, brown seeds. Each is attached to a bit of the fuzz and can drift
for long distances in gentle currents of air.
Many species of milkweed are among the most dangerous of poisonous plants; others, such as the common broad-leaved milkweed, A. syriaca, of eastern North America, have little if any toxicity. Butterfly weed, A. tuberosa, and swamp milkweed, A. incarnata, are suspected of being toxic, especially the latter; these are among the more showy milkweeds and are sometimes cultivated. Some of the poisonous species of North America are the narrow-leaved labriform milkweed, A. labriformis, which is limited to Utah; the narrow-leaved whorled milkweed, A. subverticillata, of dry plains in the Southwest; and the broad-leaved woolly-pod milkweed, A. eriocarpa, of dry soils in California. The foliage of these poisonous milkweeds contains a complex resinous compound that produces acute muscle-spasm seizures, symptoms of profound depression, and weakness in animals that consume them. Members of the genus Stapelia are called carrion flowers
The Mountain Sunflower is 4 to 12 inches tall. The flower heads are
yellow, with dome like central disk surrounded by notched ray flowers.
The leaves are strap like, silky, and they clustered at the base of the
plant. They are found on dry hillsides, plains, open pine woods.
The mountain sunflower is also called Alpine Sunflower. Sun God, and Old-Man-of-the-Mountain,.
This plant, found above timberline and has large sunflower-like blossoms. It is stout, with enormous yellow heads. Woolly, narrow leaves are once-or twice-dissected. There are 2 Mountain Sunflowers in Rocky Mountain region: (1) Li. bvulldegei has smooth shiny leaves instead of gray woolly ones, and they are not dissected; (2) H. acaulis has entire leaves all basal. H. gvuad-flortr is so conspicuously the largest bloom in high mts. that it cannot be confused with anything else. They first appears about mid-July, and if the season is wet can be found until mid-August. Confined to regions mostly above timberline, 10,000 to 11,000 ft. Look for it on dry, well-drained slopes and exposed ridges. It grows profusely on limestone. Found in alpine regions throughout Rocky Mts. from Montana to Utah and New Mexico. It is common to see thousands of them covering a rocky ridge all facing east. It like a few other could be as a compass flower, it is more a dependable indicator of direction than that of moss only growing on the north side of trees.
Western stockmen watch for these toxic plants on their range land, for they are a clear sign of overgrazing. Sheepherders dread their appearance on another count as well, at least two species are especially poisonous to their woolly friends.
the Mushroom is technically a fungi with gills of the family Agaricaceae, but in popular usage any of the larger fleshy or woody fungi. The application of the term mushroom to edible species only and the term toadstool to those considered poisonous or otherwise objectionable has no scientific basis. For example, two poisonous fungi may be less closely related than are a poisonous species and an edible one. Of the thousands of species of mushrooms known throughout the world, the great majority are tough, woody, bitter, tasteless, or of such rare occurrence that they may be ignored by the mycophagist. A few species produce death or serious illness when eaten. No simple rule exists for distinguishing edible and poisonous mushrooms, but the characteristics of the more common edible species can be readily learned, and collecting activities should be confined to such species. whenever doubt arises, the only safe procedure is to discard all suspicious mushrooms. Some mushrooms, however, especially members of the genus Amanita, are extremely poisonous and are often fatal if ingested by humans. They contain organic toxins that destroy cells in the central nervous system, blood vessels, kidneys, liver, and musculature. Medically, the most important toxins formed by fungi are ibotenic acid, muscarine, monomethylhydrazine, and the amatoxins. Ibotenic acid is the principal toxin in A. muscaria, even though muscarine is so named because it is found in that mushroom; muscarine is also synthesized by other poisonous mushrooms, including Inocybe species. Monomethylhydrazine occurs in the poisonous false morels, which may be mistaken for true morels, (Morchella). .The amatoxins of Amanita species cause severe abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and violent diarrhea. Jaundice and cyanosis often develop, followed by coma and death. Symptoms usually become apparent 8 to 12 hours or even longer after the mushroom is eaten; death follows in 2 or 3 days. Treatment for poisoning by amatoxins and muscarine is supportive after the mushrooms have been cleansed from the gastrointestinal tract. Fly agaric or fly mushroom, A. muscaria, is common in open woods, wood margins, and roadside places, from early summer until frost. It is 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 inches tall,) with a cap 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches broad) . The cap is scaly and brightly colored, usually orange-yellow to pale yellow. The flesh is yellow just beneath the skin, but the inner flesh is white. The white and scaly stem is bulbous at the base and bears a soft torn frill or ring close to the top. The gills are white or pale yellow. The specific name, muscaria, and the common names are derived from its property of poisoning flies. The death cup, or death angel, A. phalloides, and related species A. virosa, A. verna, and A. brunnescens, constitute the most deadly mushrooms known. Most other Amanita species are poisonous or suspect.
Nettle is the common name for the flowering plant family Urticaceae, and for its representative genus, Urtica. The family comprises about 700 species placed in 52 genera. Their stems and leaves are often armed with hollow hairs filled with a stinging liquid. The brittle, gland-tipped hairs are easily broken, and the liquid, if injected into the skin, produces a burning sensation that may be of temporary or long duration. The sting of the common nettle, U. gracilis, lasts only a few minutes, whereas that of an Australian species produces such a severe reaction that death has been reported in a few cases. Nettles are of little economic importance. Ramie fiber, or China grass, obtained from Boehmeria nivea of Southeast Asia, is finer than hemp and stronger than cotton, but it is difficult to extract. The family belongs to the order Urticales. The order, mainly tropical in distribution although with many temperate members as well, includes about 2400 species placed in six families. Other important families in the order are the mulberry family, Moraceae, with about 1200 species, and the elm family, Ulmaceae, with about 140. The elm and mulberry families are mostly woody, whereas the nettle family is mostly herbaceous. The flowers, usually unisexual (either male or female), are small and lack petals. They are often wind-pollinated, and each female flower produces a single seed. The family Cannabaceae includes hops genus Humulus, important in the brewing industry, and Cannabis, from which marijuana is derived. Plants in the order Urticales are members of the class Magnoliopsida in the division Magnoliophyta
Nightshade the common name for both a family of plants, Solanaceae, and for the genus Solanum of mostly weedy plants. The family has about 90 genera and 2600 species and includes crop and garden plants, such as potato, tomato, petunia, tobacco, and eggplant, as well as many poisonous plants. The poisonous nightshades contain alkaloids of three major types: tropane, found in belladonna, jimsonweed, and henbane; pyridine, in tobacco; and steroid, in some members of the genus Solanum. Included in the genus are such common weeds as horse nettle, S. carolinense, a spiny, perennial herb of the south-central to eastern U.S.; European bittersweet, S. dulcamara; silver-leaf nightshade, S. elaeagnifolium, a whitish herb of prairies of the southwestern states and Mexico; black nightshade, S. nigrum, an annual, selfseeding herb found in disturbed soils of eastern and central North America; and buffalo bur,S. rostratum, a spiny weed of the Great Plains and eastward. Also in this genus are the common potato, S. tuberosum, eggplant, S. melongena, and Jerusalem cherry, S. pseudocapsicum. Plants in this family bear flowers with five sepals, five petals, five stamens, and a solitary pistil that in most species ripens into a berry. In horse nettle, the flowers are white or pale violet and the berry yellow; in European bittersweet, the flowers are blue or purple and the berry red; in silver-leaf nightshade, the flowers are violet or blue and yellow and the berry orange; and in black nightshade, the flowers are white and the berry black. Buffalo bur has yellow flowers and a spiny fruit or bur resulting from the persistence of the spiny calyx about the berry as it ripens. The foliage and unripe fruit of most nightshades contain dangerous levels of a steroid alkaloid, solanine. The ripe berries are the least toxic part of these plants but may be deadly under some circumstances. Solanine is also found in potato sprouts and the green spots of some potatoes. A toxic dose of any of these will usually result in severe digestive upset. This may be accompanied by trembling, weakness, difficulty in breathing, or paralysis. Potato sprouts should be removed before using the tubers for food. Potato vines, sprouts, and rotten potatoes should not be used as forage for livestock. The morning glory family, Convolvulaceae, with about 1650 species, is a well-known member of the order and contains important food, drug, and horticultural plants. The sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas, is cultivated worldwide; its nutritious tuberous root has been used as a food source since prehistoric times. Other members of the same genus have chemicals similar to LSD.
Oleander, or Rose Laurel are the common names for an evergreen shrub, Nerium Oleander, of the family Apocynaceae some time refereed to as Dogbane, native to the Mediterranean region of Europe. It has leathery leaves, which are opposite or in threes. The flowers are in terminal branching cymes. The sap, used in rat poison, is very toxic, and one leaf may contain a lethal dose. One of the more dependable plants for hot climates, oleander is a bright bouquet in the warm season. Growth rate varies from moderate to fast depending on conditions and plant type. Vigorous growers produce a dense hedge to 6 feet high in 3 years with favorable conditions. Mature hedges have been seen 20 feet high and more. Erect in form, stems are almost cane-like in their youth, supporting narrow, dark, dull green leaves to 10 inches long that densely cover to the ground. Except as patio trees and possibly the dwarf varieties, oleanders are best used in farther reaches of the landscape. They are not for a refined intimate space. Flowers may be single or double and appear in profusion on the branch tips with the heaviest bloom in mid to late spring, some flowers bloom through summer until nights cool in fall. Blossoms are red, pink, salmon, soft yellow and white some are scented. Seed pods may follow, releasing airborne seeds. The Cultivars Largest and most vigorous grower is white-flowering. Many other color selections grow nearly as large. "Mrs. Koeding" will grow to a 6-foot shrub with double salmon pink flowers. Newer introductions include two inter-mediate growers from North Africa, "Casablanca", with single white flowers, and "Algiers", single red flowers. The more refined "Petite" series is a fairly recent introduction.. There are also red, light yellow and deep pink selections.
Periwinkle the common name for herbs of the genus Vinca, of the family Apocynaceae . The leaves are opposite and evergreen. the flowers grow singly or in pairs from the axils of the leaves. The lesser periwinkle, V. minor, is a native of many parts of Europe, growing in woods and thickets. The greater periwinkle, V. major, which has much larger flowers and ovatocordate, or egg-shaped, leaves, is a native of southern Europe. Periwinkles are the source of alkaloids that are often used to treat cancer.
Peyote the common name for a small, spineless, turnip-shaped cactus,
Lophophora williamsii, native to Mexico and the southwestern U.S., The
grayish, mushroom-shaped tops, called peyote or mescal buttons, yield
nine alkaloids, of which mescaline is the principal active agent. The
dried buttons are eaten, brewed into a tea, or powdered and packaged in
capsules. The mescaline in these preparations alters perception,
producing vivid color hallucinations, inaccurate estimation of time,
and a feeling of anxiety. It is not known to be habit-forming, but use
of impure or large doses can have toxic effects, such as nausea and
depressed breathing. Peyote has been used since pre-Columbian times by
American Indians in their religious rites, the practice has been
incorporated into their modern Christian ceremonies. Mescaline has been
used experimentally in investigations of schizophrenia and other
Peyote and mescaline have become drugs of abuse in recent years.
The Philodendron, a plant of tropical American is a climbing plants
belonging to the family Araceae or Arum. They are 1 to 3 ft. tall, the
flower is 1/8 inch wide. with purple and green stripes, hooded
enclosing club-like flowers, clustered at base. The leaves are divided
into 3 oval leaflets. The berries red and clustered. They can be found
in moist woods. They are in bloom from April through July.
Philodendrons, with their attractive foliage, are among the most common
house plants. They can grow or persist for long periods with little
light and under conditions of neglect. Under some circumstances, the
tissues of Philodendrons may contain quantities of microscopic,
needle-shaped crystals of calcium oxalate, which may cause a burning
sensation if the foliage is eaten. Some cases of poisoning among
domestic cats have been attributed to eating of Philodendrons.
Members of the largely tropical arum family which includes such popular houseplants as dragon arums and caladiums bear. Their small flowers on the surface of a fleshy spike, called a spadix (Jack-in-the-pulpit), which is usually surrounded by a large bracr, called a spathe. In the dragon arums the flowers occur near the base of the spathe and are pollinated by insects drawn to odors from within. Jack-in-the-pulpit attracts mosquitoes with its smell of a stagnant pool.
Poison Hemlock, , common name for poisonous herbs belonging to two
different genera of the family Apiaceae. Conium maculatum is a large,
coarse, unpleasant-smelling plant, all parts of which are poisonous and
may be fatal if eaten. It is the poison hemlock that was used to put
Socrates to death. Native to Europe, the plant is now naturalized in
the U.S. and occurs as a luxuriant weed, up to 3 meters (10 ft. tall),
along roadsides and in abandoned fields. The dark-green leaves are
divided into small, ovate, toothed segments. The hollow stems are
characteristically blotched with purple. The small white flowers are
grouped into flat-topped clusters called umbels. The poisons in C.
maculatum are alkaloids that affect the nervous system.
The second type of poison hemlock is water hemlock, Cicuta maculata, related botanically to poison hemlock but toxicologically entirely different. The roots and, to a much lesser extent, the foliage contain a complex unsaturated alcohol that brings on convulsions. The roots grow in clusters of dahlialike tubers that are about 5 cm (about 2 inches long) . The amount of root that must be eaten to cause death is very small. The plant grows in swamps, along streams, and in other moist locations. The foliage, which arises in early spring in a cluster from the roots, is divided and redivided into leaflets with regularly pointed and notched edges. A central vein runs the length of each leaflet. From it, secondary veins run toward the edge, ending in or near the notches of the leaf rather than in the points.
Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, And Poison Sumac, are common names applied
to three plants of the genus Toxicodendron, of the family
Anacardiaceae, capable of producing an allergic reaction in persons who
have become sensitized to them. Poison ivy and poison oak are variants
of T. radicans (sometimes treated as separate species by botanists),
different mainly in the shape of their leaflets. Both are woody
perennial plants of roadsides, thickets, hedgerows, and open woods, and
one or the other is found throughout the U.S. . and southern Canada.
They may take the form of vines climbing up tree trunks to considerable
height, shrubs or subshrubs standing erect by themselves, or vines
trailing on the forest floor, sometimes also trailing out into meadows
from hedgerows. Distinguishing characteristics include the regular
grouping of three leaflets in each leaf, and stiff clusters of small,
yellowish or white berries that appear in summer and fall. Other
characteristics vary considerably, especially size of leaflet,
notching, whether the surface is shiny or dull, or color.
Poison sumac, T. vernix, is a tall, smooth-stemmed shrub of swamps throughout the eastern U.S. . and Canada. It bears pinnately compound leaves with about 7 to 13 leaflets, including one at the tip. The fruits are white or yellowish berries in clusters similar to those of poison ivy.
Poison ivy, Poison oak, and Poison sumac contain a lacquer-like resin in their sap. The resin is composed of active substances that provoke a sensitizing reaction in most, if not all, persons the first time effective contact occurs. Contact may be made by brushing past the leaves or the bare stems. Contact with exposed pets, clothing, or garden tools many induce a reaction. Smoke from burning ivy plants may carry the resin and affect all uncovered parts of the body.
After a person has become sensitized, subsequent contact with the resin produces the typical allergic reaction of ivy poisoning. The effects do not become apparent for some hours. First, the skin reddens and begins to itch. Small watery blisters soon appear, often in lines indicating the point of contact with the plant, and the itching becomes intense. Finally, in severe cases, large watery swellings appear and coalesce. The condition is self-limiting, and recovery takes place in one to four weeks, even without treatment. A physician should be consulted in severe cases or if sensitive parts of the body, such as the eyelids, become involved. Scratching slows healing, invites infection, and may spread the resin from one location to another; the watery fluid in the blisters does not spread the reaction. Boric acid solution or calamine lotion are commonly used to relieve itching. Some or all of the resin may be removed by prompt and vigorous scrubbing with strong soap.
Poisonous plants are plants containing subtances that, taken into
the body of humans or animals in small or moderate amounts, provoke a
harmful reaction resulting in illness or death. Possibly as many as one
out of each 100 species of plants is poisonous, but not all have been
recognized as such. Dangerous plants are widely distributed in woods,
fields, swamps, dry ranges and, roadsides . Many ornamental plants,
such as oleander, lily of the valley, and mistletoe, are poisonous
Often the difference between medicen and poison is the dosage.
Bot tanists have no set rules to determine accurately whether any given plant is poisonous. Toxic species are scattered geographically, in habitat, and in botanical relationship. They contain more than 20 kinds of poisonous principles, primarily alkaloids, glycosides, saponins, resinoids, oxalates, photosensitizing compounds, and mineral compounds such as selenium or nitrates accumulated from the soil. The poisonous compound may be distributed throughout all parts of the plant, or it may accumulate in one part more than any other, A plant may vary in toxicity as it grows, generally becoming more toxic with maturity; certain plants however, can be highly toxic when young and harmless later. Some active principles cause skin irritation directly; others bring about an allergenic reaction. Most poisons, however, must enter the body before they act,
Pokeweed, a common name for the plant family Phytolaccaceae, of the order Caryophyllales , and for its representative genus, Phytolacca. The family comprises about 18 genera and 65 species. Phytolacca contains about 25 species of herbs, shrubs, and trees that occur in tropical and subtropical regions. The small flowers lack petals, have many stamens (male floral organs), and produce fleshy berries at maturity. The common pokeweed, or pokeberry, P. decandra, native to the eastern U.S., may grow 3 meters (10 ft tall) . Its young leaves are used as a substitute for greens and spinach; the young shoots, properly prepared, taste like asparagus; but the large, perennial root produces a cathartic poison, phytolaccin. The purple berries contain a dye.
Poppy, the common name for the family Papaver-aceae, a small group
of herbaceous flowering plants occurring principally in the North
Temperate Zone, and for its representative genus, Papaver. The family
contains about 23 genera and 210 species; many are important as
ornamentals, and one species is the source of opium. Members of the
family occupy varied habitats, but they are more common in open,
well-drained areas. This preference helps explain why several members
of the family, especially poppies, are bothersome weeds in cultivated
The genus Papaver contains about 50 species. The Oriental poppy, P. orientale, is widely cultivated as an ornamental, and many color forms have been developed. The Opium poppy, P. somniferum, produces several useful products. Its tiny seeds, produced in huge quantities in each of the plant's dry fruits, or capsules, are used in baking and produce an important drying oil. Opium is the dried sap, or latex, that is harvested from the capsules while they are still young. It contains many alkaloids, including morphine and codeine, that are useful in medicine. Heroin is synthesized from the morphine purified from the complex mixture of alkaloids in opium.
Potato, edible starchy tuber produced by certain plants of the genus
Solanum, of the family Solanaceae (see NIGHTSHADE), especially the
common white potato, S. tuberosum. The name is also applied to the
plants. The white-potato tuber is a food staple in most countries of
the temperate regions of the world. The plant is grown as an annual
herb; the stem attains a length of up to almost 1 m (3 ft), erect or
prostrate, with pointed leaves and white to purple flowers. The fruit
is a many-seeded berry about the size of a cherry. Like the stems and
the foliage, the fruit contains significant amounts of solanin, a
poisonous alkaloid characteristic of the genus. The plant, native to
the Peruvian Andes, was brought to Europe in the 16th century by
Spanish explorers. The cultivation of the potato spread rapidly,
especially in the temperate regions, and early in the 18th century the
plant was introduced into North America. The earliest authentic record
of its cultivation there was dated 1719, at Londonderry, N.H.
Production in the U.S. during the mid-1980s involved a harvest of
almost 500,000 ha (about 1.2 million acres) yielding about 16.1 million
metric tons of potatoes annually. The principal potato-producing states
are, in order, Idaho, Washington, Maine, Wisconsin, North Dakota,
California, and Pennsylvania. The early crop is produced by California
and the Gulf states; as the season advances, the harvest moves to the
states of the Great Plains, the Pacific Northwest, and the Northeast.
In ordinary cultivation, propagation is accomplished by planting the tuber or a section of the tuber containing an eye, which is an undeveloped bud. New varieties are developed from seed produced after controlled pollination. Improved varieties may be propagated rapidly by using cuttings from the sprouts. Rich, sandy loams are most suitable for producing the light, mealy types favored by American and British taste; heavy, moist soils produce the firm type preferred by Europeans. Named varieties popular in the U.S. include Rose, Idaho, Cobbler, Early Ohio, Green Mountain, Hebron, Rural, and Burbank. Freshly dug potatoes contain 78% water, 18% starch, 2.2% protein, 1% ash, and 0.1% fat. About 75% of the dry weight is carbohydrate. The potato is an important source of starch for the manufacture of adhesives and alcohol.
The most important disease of the potato is late blight, caused by the fungus Phytophthor a infestans, which rots leaves, stems, and tubers. The early blight, caused by Alternaria solani, is not so destructive but causes lesions that permit entry of the various forms of bacterial rot. Several forms of mosaic disease and leaf curl are caused by infection with viruses. The Color ado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineatum, is the most destructive of the insect pests; others include the potato leafhopper, Empoasca fabae, the potato flea beetle, Epitrix cucumeris, and species of aphids and psyllids. See also SWEET POTATO.
The Rattle Box is 6 to 16 inches. tall with flowers 1/4 inch Wide
the flowers are yellow on slender stalks arising from leaf base. The
fruits are green to brown seed pods, rattling when dry. They can be
found in dry fields, prairies, and waste places. They bloom from June
The mature seeds of the Rattle boxes, which rattle inside their dry pods when disturbed, are said to make a tasty coffee substitute if boiled long enough. Eaten raw, however, they are deadly.
Rhododendron (from the Greek: rhodos, "rose", and dendron, "tree")
is a genus of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae. It is a large
genus with over 1000 species and most have showy flower displays. It
includes the plants known to gardeners as azaleas. The Rhododendron is
a genus characterized by shrubs and small to large trees, the smallest
species growing to 10-20 cm tall, and the largest, R. arboreum,
reported to 12 meters tall. The leaves are spirally arranged; leaf size
can range from 1-2 cm to over 50 cm, exceptionally 100 cm in R.
sinogrande. They may be either evergreen or deciduous. In some species
the underside of the leaves are covered with scales or hairs. Some of
the best known species are noted for their many clusters of large
flowers. There are alpine species with small flowers and small leaves,
and tropical species such as section Vireya that often grow as
Rhododendron is a very widely distributed genus, occurring throughout most of the Northern Hemisphere except for dry areas, and extending into the Southern Hemisphere in southeastern Asia and northern Australasia. The highest species diversity is found in the Sino-Himalayan mountains from central Nepal and Sikkim east to Yunnan and Sichuan, with other significant areas of diversity in the mountains of Indo-China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan. In addition, there are a significant number of tropical rhododendron species from southeast Asia to northern Australia, with 55 known species in Borneo and 164 in New Guinea. Relatively fewer species occur in North America and Europe. Rhododendrons have not been found in South America or Africa. Some species are poisonous to grazing animals. These Rhododendrons have a toxin called grayanotoxin in their pollen and nectar. People have been known to become ill from eating honey made by bees feeding on rhododendron and azalea flowers. Xenophon described the odd behavior of Greek soldiers after having consumed honey in a village surrounded by rhododendrons. Later, it was recognized that honey resulting from these plants have a slightly hallucinogenic and laxative effect. The suspect rhododendrons are Rhododendron ponticum and Rhododendron luteum (formerly Azalea pontica), both found in northern Asia Minor. Eleven similar cases have been documented in Istanbul, Turkey during the 1980s . Rhododendron is extremely toxic to horses, with some animals dying within a few hours of ingesting the plant, although most horses tend to avoid it if they have access to good forage.
Rhubarb, the common name for herbs of the genus Rheum, of the family Polygon aceae The genus contains about 50 species of large herbaceous plants that are native to Asia. They have strong, branching, almost fleshy roots; erect, thick, branching stems, sometimes up to 2.4 meters (8 ft high) and stems and branches that, while in the bud, are covered with large membranous sheaths. The leaves are large, stalked, and entire or lobed; the flowers are small, whitish or red, and generally very numerous, in large loose panicles of many-flowered clusters. The leafstalks contain an agreeable mixture of citric and malic acids and are often used to make preserves and pie filling. Garden rhubarb is R. rhabarbarum, and medicinal rhubarb is R. officinale.
The Rocky Mountain Iris also called Flag, Fleur-de-lis, Snake-lily, Water Flag is 1 to 3 ft. tall, the flower 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide. flowers blue to lilac, with yellow, white, and purple markings on falls,( An iris blossom seems to have nine petals, the outer three called falls) really sepals, the next three (the standards) are true petals, and the center three are crest-like branches of the pistil with upright standards. The base of each fall combines with one of the crests to form a tube, its entrance marked by lines, a splotch of color, or a fuzzy beard. When a pollinating insect or bird seeks the nectar at the base of the tube, the stigma at the top of the crest dips down to receive pollen from its body. Inside the tube, the stamen waits to dust the creature with more pollen. The pale green leaves sword-like, densely clustered at base of the stout stalk, from a coarse, irregular, underground rootstock. They are found in moist meadows, and flatlands from lowest valleys to about 9000 ft. in mountains. They bloom from May in lower valleys and well through July in mountains. Iris was the Greek goddess of the rainbow, whose role was often to bring peace after one of the gods' stormy confrontations. The plants of this bright, colorful group well deserve her name. The iris is Tennessee's state flower. Blue Flag (I. versicolor) and a number of other species are native to the Eastern United States. Genus Iris is found in North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa and numerous cultivated forms are almost world-wide. The rootstocks contain the poison Insm, which is a violent emetic and cathartic. Seeds when eaten cause violent "burning" of mouth and throat and this persists for several hours. Roots were ground by the Indians, mixed with animal bile, then put in the gall bladder and warmed near a fire for several days. Arrow points were dipped in this mixture, and it is reported by old Indians that many warriors only slightly wounded by such arrows died within 3 to 7 days. There is little likelihood of confusing the rootstock with any edible root because of the strong, acrid, disagreeable flavor. Fibers from the leaves of the Oregon Iris (I. tenax) were used by Indians in making lines and nets. The irises have no forage value either to livestock or game. They are a good indicator of water close to the ground surface.
The Roseary Peas also known as Crab's Eye is a vine growing to 10
ft. The flower is 1/2 to 3/4 inch long. The flowers are rose-pink to
purple, and in cluster. The leaves are divided, and the seed pods are
brown, clustered, bursting to reveal red and black seeds. You can found
them in woods, thickets, roadsides. They bloom from March to July.
Scarlet tipped with black, the glossy seeds of these woody tropical vines have long been used for rosary beads and decorative jewelry. They are, however extremely poisonous. Less than one seed, chewed and swallowed, can kill an adult, and toddlers have died merely from sucking on a seed. The single North American species grows only in Florida.
Since the development of modern manufacturing technique most beads are made from plastics. A few are still hand made in the old ways, but they are few and far between, and very expensive. Before this century there were many attempts to cultivate the rosary pea. Because it is one of the few red in color darkening with age while being of a hard woody nature. The beads retain their glossy shine for years, where other beads or peas soon turn dull and brown to gray.
The Rubber Vine or Devil's Potato as it is sometimes called can be
up to 20 ft. In length with flowers 2 to 2 1/2 inches long the flowers
are white to greenish in color. With up to 5 twisted frilled petals.
The stems are trailing and intertwined. The leaves are in pairs and are
egg shaped. The curled leaves are a deeper green on the upper surface
with a lighter lower surface. They are found in coastal hammocks and
swamps. The rubber vine like many tropical plants bloom year round.
These woody vines have a latex like sap. Nelson Whitehouse a naturalist during the depression of the thirties claimed, the sap of the rubber vine would remove warts. He was fond of saying " jus putter on there three time a day til they're gone." It could be that the latex like sap form a coating on the wart cutting of the air, this causing the wart to dry up and fall off. They belong to the dogbane family. Like most plants in this family, they are poisonous. The Devil's potato, one of three species that grow along the Florida coast and in the Keys, is named for its large, tuberous, toxic root.
Snow On The Mountain is of the Spurge family. This plant is 6 to 36 inches Tall, the flower heads are mynute. The flower heads are greenish, with white bracts, the light green leaves are surrounded by, white margins. This plant is found on the prairies, and the pains, waste places, and fields. It blooms from June to October. Members of the Spurge family bears small inconspicuous flowers, but they sometimes have brilliantly colored flower bracts, or leaves that look like flower petals. Most spurges contain a bitter, milky sap that is irritating to the skin on contact and poisonous if eaten. Some, including the beautiful Snow-on-the-mountain, are so toxic that bees who visit their flowers often produce poisonous honey.
The Snowy Locoweed is 4 to 14 inches tall. The flowers are 1/2 inch
long The pink to blue flowers are in dense spikes. The plants are
covered with silky, leaflets in whorls along the stalk. They are found
on dry prairies, meadows, and mountain slopes. The Snowy Loco weed
produce a poison Selenium. Selenium has caused large losses of cattle.
Selenium poisoning and locoism, however, are separate diseases. The
snowy locoweed is more at home in poor soil where heavy deposit of
elements like selenium are more abundant thus possibly lending to the
name scrub land weed. Non-poisonous species of Oxytropis, known as
point vetch, are sometimes used as forage for sheep.
Locoism and selenium poisoning are not the problem today they were in earlier days of large cattle operation, that utilized the range land of those days. Ranchers of today are more aware of the importance of proper range management. Weight gain is the most important consideration of cattle ranchers, therefor they choose not to use scrub land or poor pastures. Sense the pick up replaced the horse it is easier to control cattle grazing on range land thus reducing overgrazing. This plant has no know food or medical value. It's poisons are not of the type that would be of use as a pest control. It is not believed to be used by any of the animals of the wild. With the Humming Bird and Honey Bee maybe being the only exception.
The Soapberry Tree is 30 to 40 feet tall. The leaves are 6 to 7
inches long. The leaves are compound with 8 to Is lance shaped
leaflets. They are found in canyons, stream banks, and dry limestone
In warm water the fruits of this mainly tropical group of 12 produce a soapy lather. The smooth bony seed inside is poisonous. One of the two North American species is the Wingleaf Soapberry. It is native to Florida but is widely planted elsewhere.
Because the Soapberry is a tree it is often called Soaptree. The true Soaptree is the Yucca not the soapberry. The pollination of a yucca is a task that can be performed by only one group of moths. Conversely, the continued existence of yucca moths depends on their ability to pollinate yuccas. An adult yucca moth never eats. Its mouth parts have but one function. To gather grains of yucca pollen and knead them into a ball. After mating, a female moth makes such a ball and flies with it to a different flower. There she injects her eggs into the embryonic seedpod at the base of the pistil, then climbs to the top of the pistil and stuffs the ball of pollen down inside. Caterpillars hatching from the eggs live on some of the developing seeds until they pupate. New Mexico's state flower is a yucca. Indians and settlers of the southwest used the yucca for making soap.
Soapberry, is the common name for the family Sapindaceae, comprising
a medium-size group of mostly woody flowering plants widely distributed
in tropical areas, and for its representative genus, Sapindus.
The soapberry family includes important tropical timber, such as akee, Blighia sapida, native to West Africa; this species has been introduced in the West Indies, where the ripe fruit is fried and eaten with fish (the unripe fruit is highly toxic). Several tropical fruits, such as the litchi, Litchi chinensis, are members of the Sapindaceae. Sapindus contains about 13 species; 2 occur in the U.S., and the fruits of both are poisonous.
The Sapindaceae are placed in the order Sapindales. Flowers of the order are characteristically functionally unisexual, small, and insect pollinated. The order contains about 5400 species placed in 15 families; the two largest are the family Rutaceae, with about 1700 species, and the soapberry family, with about 1500 species. Other families are the Aceraceae, the Anacardiaceae, the Simaroubaceae, and the Meliaceae. Myrrh belongs to the family Burseraceae, and the creosote bush and lignum vitae are members of the family Zygophyllaceae. Plants in the order Sapindales are members of the class Magnoliopsida in the division Magnoliophyta/p>
Spurge,is the common name for the family Euphorbiaceae, a large
group of flowering plants that includes many with cactuslike growth
forms, and for its representative genus, Euphorbia. The family contains
about 8000 species; it occurs primarily in the Tropics, but
representatives are found throughout the world except in polar and
mountainous areas. The plants range from small annual herbs to large
trees. Members of this family often have milky latex, which in some
species is irritating to the skin and can be fatal to livestock. Rubber
is derived from the latex of several members of the spurge family, most
importantly Hevea brasiliensis. The floral whorl in the Euphorbiaceae
is usually inconspicuous, but the flowers are often grouped together in
dense clusters, below which are borne large, colored leaves, or bracts,
that serve the function of petalsthat is, they attract pollinators.
Poinsettia, E. pulcherrima, a Central American member of the family, is
an excellent example of a spurge with brightly colored bracts; it is a
popular Christmas decoration. The castor bean, tung tree, and tallow
tree are other important members of the Euphorbiaceae, producing
commercially significant oils. The cassava, or manioc, tuber is rich in
starch and is the source of tapioca.
The spurge genus, Euphorbia, contains many common North American weeds. Several species have cactuslike growth forms with thick, succulent stems and no leaves. This growth form is an adaptation to hot, dry habitats and occurs in plant families as well. Spurges of this type can be distinguished from cacti by their milky latex.
The Saint Johnworts is 12 to 32 inches tall, and the flower is 3/4 to 1 inch wide. The flower is yellow, with black dots at edges of all petals. The leaves have translucent dots that look like holes. They are found in fields, meadows, and roadsides. They bloom from June to September. Trefoil, Johnswort, Vervaine, DilliHinder, Witches of Their Will. The festival day of Saint John and the Baptiost occurs on June 24, when the sun is high and days are long. The bright flowers of Saint Johnswort open about this time in England, and so as the ancient couplet indicated they came to embody the power of light over darkness. The plants actually contain a most unusual toxin. Eaten in the flowering stage, they sensitize nerve endings in the skin and cause inflammation and open sores in light-skinned animals and humans exposed to sunlight. Dark skins are seldom affected, and light skins are immune if they are kept shaded. Many times people use poisonous plants for one reason or another. Even when some other plant or another substance that is not toxic would have the same effect. This plant is one of those plants. When considering using a poisonous plant it is wise to check to see if another non-toxic plant or substance would fit the use equally
Star of Bethlehem is the common name for a bulbous rooted herb, Ornithogalum umbellatum, of the family Liliaceae. The erect linear leaves of the plant grow in a clump from an onionlike bulb, reaching a height of about 30 cm (about 12 inches). These are followed in spring by an attractive cluster of white, lilylike flowers. Starof-Bethlehem was introduced from the Mediterranean region as a garden perennial but has become naturalized in grasslands throughout the eastern and central U.S. The bulbs, which may be brought to the surface by plowing or by frost heaving contain poisons that, when eaten, produce symptoms of depression, salivation, and bloat and may eventually cause death.
Tansy a common name for the genus Tanacetum, a group of about 70 north temperate species of flowering plants of the family Asteraceae.. A few are native to the U.S. The common tansy, T. vulgare, is an aromatic perennial herb growing to about 1 meter (about 3 ft high) with deeply divided leaves and yellow flowering heads. Native to Europe and now naturalized in North America, it is grown as a garden ornamental, common tansy grows as a perennial in planting zones 3-9. The leaves of these fragrant plants are said to repel flies and ants, for instance (although their aroma may repel only certain types of ants). To use the plants for ant control, dry the flowers and leaves and sprinkle them to form barriers. Despite being poisonous (to humans, to livestock, to dogs, and to cats, if eaten in sufficient quantities) if ingested raw,. This herb according to Botanical Online, traditionally has had culinary and medicinal uses,
Virginia creeper of the Vine Family (Vitaceae). is a native,
fast-growing, perennial, woody vine that may climb or trail along the
ground. The leaves are compound, containing five leaflets. Leaflets
range in size from 2-6 inches and have toothed margins. The leaflets
are red when they first emerge but turn green as they mature. In the
fall, leaves turn a bright red to maroon color. The inconspicuous green
color flowers are borne in small clusters during the spring and
followed by small clusters of fruit in early summer. This fruit is a 4
to 6 mm diameter bluish-black berry that usually contains two to three
seeds. The vines adhere to surfaces by means of five to eight branched
tendrils ending in cup-like adhesive tips. New stems are brownish-green
and finely hairy but gradually acquire pale, raised dots and turn
purplish-brown with age.
Virginia creeper is often confused with eastern poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), however; a clear distinction between the species is that eastern poison ivy has three leaflets and Virginia creeper has five leaflets. Warning: Virginia creeper berries are highly toxic to humans and may be fatal if eaten. Its sap can also cause skin irritation in some people.
The Virginia Ground Cherries is 1 to 3 ft. tall, and the flower is 3/4 to 1 inch wide. The flowers are yellow with purplish blotches in center. The fruits are papery, 5 Sided, and lantern shaped, containing fleshy berries. They persists until fall frosts kill the top of the plant. Fruits are often conspicuous during hunting season. They can be found in fields, prairies, open woods, in moist to medium-dry soil of cultivated fields, as well as along roadsides and fence rows, and waste places from Vermont west to Washington, south to Texas and Florida, they also occur in Europe.. They bloom from May to August. The Ground Cherries or fleshy fruit of these plants is enclosed in a lantern like husk,. When green the berries, like the young leaves, are poisonous. But when the berries are fully ripe, they are edible and sweet. The sweet berries of many species are eaten raw or made into jam or pies.. It is believed that the poison is destroyed by cooking, (possibly because fried green tomatoes are eaten by many people) but there has been no research to prove or dis-prove this theory. A favorite trail snack of many hikers. Some species, known as Strawberry Tomatoes, are grown for food. The ornamental Chinese Lantern Plant is cultivated for its bright red husks. (Subglabvate means almost hairless One).
The White-flowered Ground Cherry is 1 to 3 ft. tall, and the flower
1 1/4 to 2 inches long. The flower is white, saucer like, with 5
points, the leaves oval to lance shaped, stems sticky, and hairy. They
are found in open woods, and sandy clearings, they bloom from June to
August. These ground cherries differ from the Virginia Ground Cherries
in that their fruits have no papery husks. Despite the shared name, the
berries of both groups are more like little tomatoes than cherries.
Tomatoes grown in gardens also belong to the nightshade family, and
their unripe fruits are also poisonous if eaten raw.
The white flowered ground cherry's normal range is much smaller than that of the Virginia ground cherry. It is mostly limited to the north eastern part of the United States. It often shares the same names that are applied to the virginia ground cherries. It is believed by some that it may be a sub species of the virginia ground cherry, and that the differances are because of the areas in which it grows. The Indians gathered the Ground Cherries and taught the early colonist of the plants value as a food staple. The Strawberry tomato was a favorite food of the people of the Appalachian mountains, and frontiersmen of the seventeen hundreds. It was often called little tomato, or the wild tomato plant. Like the tomato it is a member of the nightshade family.
The Wild Poinsettia is a member of the Spurge family native to tropical regions in the Americas. Cassava is the West Indian name and is used in.The plant grows in a bushy form, and is 6 to 36 inches Tall, and the flower head is 1/4 inch Wide. The clusters amid red brackits which are often considered to be part of the flower. Large, red, flamboyant flower brackits at Christmas make this plant from Mexico and Central America a holiday favorite. They can be found in damp sandy clearings, blossoming in June to September. Included among the world's nearly seventeen hundred spurge species are the familiar Christmas Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), from the tropical forests of Mexico and Central America, and the Crown of Thorns (euphorbia milii), from arid, Madagascar plateaus. Many spiny succulents native to the deserts of Africa and Asia are also in this group. though they can he hard to tell apart from American cacti, this is not the case with the wild poinsettia. Most spurges contain a bitter, milky sap that is irritating to the skin on contact and poisonous if eaten. Some, are so toxic that bees who visit their flowers often produce poisonous honey. The domestic Poinsettia Poinsettia pulcherrima is cultivated widely. Planted outdoors poinsettias (Poinsettia pulcherrima) grow up to 10 feet in height with no frost, usually less in the colder middle zone. Leaves 4 to 7 inches in length clothe the plant. Plants may lose leaves after the bloom period, which means they are "resting". New foliage appears and grows rapidly in spring. As nights approach the 12 hours length in fall, buds start to form, especially if night temperatures are in the low 60's Fahrenheit (17 Centigrade). Temperatures above or below may delay budding, as will too much artificial light at night from house or street lights.
The Yellow Jessamine can grow to be 40 ft. high. The flower is 1 inch wide. It is a climbing tangled vine. The flowers are yellow, trumpet like, with 5 flaring lobes, the leaves are in pairs, lance shaped to oval. They are found in thickets, hammocks, and forest edges. They bloom from January to May. This is not a true jasmine, but its flowers resemble the Italian jasmine. It grows at a moderate rate providing an uneven and tangled cover. Shiny pointed leaves are yellowish green and densely cover the billowing, twining growth. Clear, yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers to 1 and 1/2 inches long bloom in profusion along slender stems during late winter and early spring. the bloom is sometimes fragrant. Native to the southeastern United States. It is South Carolina's state flower, the Carolina Jessamine, is a common sight along road sides throughout the southeastern United States. Its avid yellow flowers, though fragrant and beautiful, they are dangerous, children sucking out the nectar have been poisoned. The flowers, and all other parts of the plant, contain a lethal alkaloid similar to strychnine. They produce vivid color and a woodsy effect, when little else is in flower. It is cultivated in many areas as a vine, which needs tying for porch posts, fences, walls and trellises. It can also be used as a ground or a bank cover, but may tangle and mound, covering unevenly. It is also effective spilling from containers or draped over walls. In time it becomes overgrown and top heavy with dead under-branches.
The Yellow Lupine is 12 to 32 inches tall with flowers 1/2 inch long. The flowers are pale yellow, in slender spikes, the leaflets are like spokes. They are found in pine lands, oak forest, on dry grassy slowpes. They bloom from May through August. Many annual lupines are cultivated, the small seeded species as garden ornamentals, and the large-seeded species as cover crops. The name Lupine comes from the Latin “lupus,” meaning wolf. This refers to the folk belief that this plant took nutrients from the soil. Ironically, this plant actually improves the soil because of its nitrogen fixing abilities. The species name “densiflorus,” literally translated “with dense flowers,” refers to the thickly growing blossoms on each stem. As the seed pods develop, watch them carefully. As soon as they ripen fully they will split and drop their seed. Keep in mind that these seeds are highly poisonous.
Yew the common name for a genus, Taxus, of evergreen, needle-bearing
trees and shrubs of the family Taxaceae, and, loosely, for other
members of the family. Yews are native to temperate and subtropical
climates throughout the world and are widely cultivated as ornamental
plants, especially as hedges. The needle leaves are produced more or
less in two ranks along the sides of the terminal branchlets. These
leaves are dark green on the upper surface and yellower beneath; they
persist through the winter. Flowers are inconspicuous; the fruit is an
attractive scarlet berry. The wood is slow-growing, strong, and fine
grained and is utilized in cabinetmaking and for archery bows. The
branches are often twisted or gnarled the bark is red and scaly.
Principal ornamental species include the English yew, T. baccata, with
several horticultural varieties, and the hardier Japanese yew, T.
cuspidata, also with several horticultural varieties. The native North
American yew of wooded hillsides and ravines is T. canadensis, also
called ground hemlock. It is a straggly shrub, rarely more than about
90 cm (about 36 inches tall) . The Pacific, or western yew, T.
brevifolia, is a tall tree found in old-growth forests from California
The foliage and seeds of yew contain highly poisonous alkaloids that act to stop the heart of an animal so suddenly that no symptoms are seen; the animal simply drops dead. The berries are attractive to children and their flesh is not distasteful. Fortunately, the flesh of the berries is the least poisonous part of the plant. The drug taxol, approved in 1992 for treating ovarian and other cancers, is extracted from the bark of the Pacific Yew. The tree is scarce, however, and large amounts of taxol are needed for treatment. Scientists are studying the feasibility of cultivating the trees to harvest the drug from the bark, as well as the possibility of extracting the drug from the branches and needles.