It is the ultimate irony - the most beautiful can also be the most deadly. There are hundreds of flowers that present an exquisite array of colors, shapes and unique textures. But the almost perfect beauty of some flowers masks the poisons hidden below their surface. While there are many poisonous and often deadly flowers, here are some that are common in flower arrangements, gardens and homes.
- Narcissus: This flower, named after the famous Greek myth of Narcissus, is commonly referred to as the daffodil. However, the sunny yellow hue masks undeniable toxicity levels. If you were to eat the flower you may experience nausea, vomiting and cramps. Symptoms will subside with a focused hydration effort. Intravenous drugs may be necessary, if symptoms are severe or if the patient is a child.
- Wisteria: Long before the housewives set up at Wisteria lane, this beloved flower grew abundantly in the South and Southwest. The romantic cascades of blue, pink or white are strikingly beautiful but devastatingly toxic. The entire plant of Wisteria (also known as the kidney bean tree) can cause cramps, nausea, vomiting and severe digestive damage if ingested.
- Hydrangea: This flower resembles sweet cotton candy and seen in many yards, gardens and patios in colors of blue, greenish-white and rose. Don't let the edible candy looks deceive you, because these flowers are anything but sweet. If eaten, hydrangeas can cause vomiting, itchy skin, weakness and sweating. Some reports indicate that patients can even experience comas, convulsions and a breakdown in the body's blood circulation.
- Belladonna: Also called "deadly nightshade," is one of the most toxic plants in the western hemisphere. Belladonna is often used as a recreational drug because the hallucinations produced by belladonna are typically pleasant. However, there are occasional unpleasant overdoses that can cause comas and even death. Belladonna is also used for alternative and mainstream medicinal purposes.
- Lily: The lily is a favorite amongst a majority of people, and yet it is severely dangerous. Chewing or ingesting the flower or any part of this plant can result in vomiting, lack of appetite and kidney failure. This visually stunning and elegant flower is often used for wedding and funeral flowers, but all parts of the plant are highly toxic, with the capability to kill livestock and children if ingested.
The enjoyment of these flowers is wonderful and celebrated. Cut flowers, gardens, yards and houseplants add color, fragrance and beauty to every home. A toxic flower or plant is no reason to discontinue the enjoyment of these flowers if you use caution to not ingest, nor let anyone else eat these wonderful aspects of nature.