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Poisonous indigenous plants

I have never come across a child or an adult sitting down to a meal of a poisonous bulb, leaves or seeds, but we are often asked about plants that are poisonous to horses and dogs! If you are worried, please call the Poison Centre on 0800333444 for advice.

 

Abrus precatorius  Lucky Bean. This climber produces beautiful seed clusters of red and black seeds. They are often made into bracelets and necklaces. A single seed is considered fatal, however if a seed is swallowed whole, it wall pass through the system as the seed coat is very hard.

Acocanthera oppositifolia  Bushman’s Poison. All parts of this evergreen shrub are poisonous and have caused fatalities. The sap is used on the arrows of the Bushmen hunters.

Adenium multiflorum   Impala Lily. An attractive plant with red and white flowers grows in hot areas. All parts are poisonous and it can be lethal if a large quantity is eaten. 

Agapanthus sp. This very popular garden and landscaping plant has an acrid sap that can cause ulcers of the mouth. It is also used as muthi.

Amaryllis belladonna   March Lily. The beautiful, fragrant, trumpet-shaped flowers are a pretty pink. This bulb is poisonous and can be fatal if eaten in large enough quantities.

Ammocharis coranica   Tumbleweed. This is one of our most beautiful bulbs with red/pink flowers. The seed heads break off and tumble in the wind to distribute the seed. The bulb is poisonous if eaten.

Boophane disticha Tumbleweed. This bulb has fan shaped leaves and a spectacular ball shaped flower head. The seed heads break off and tumble in the wind to distribute the seed. The bulb is poisonous if eaten.

Brunsvigia radulosa  Candelabra Flower. This plant has pretty bright pink flowers, up to 50 on a single stalk and wide leaves. The seed heads break off and tumble in the wind to distribute the seed. The bulb is poisonous if eaten.

Catha edulis Bushman’s Tea. The bark and the leaves of this tree are eaten as it is a stimulant. However excessive use had caused insanity and toxicity. The Bushmen make a refreshing tea from the leaves.

Clivia miniata - Bush Lily .A South African favourite flower that heralds Spring. Once again the bulb is poisonous in ingested in large quantities.

Crinum bulbispermum and other species. These beautiful umbels are either pale pink or white. Some of them have poisonous seeds and bulbs.

Cyrtanthus purpureus -  Knysna Lily. This pretty red or pink flowering bulb is poisonous but not lethal. If eaten it causes vomiting and diarrhoea.

Erythria species - Coral tree. These are beautiful trees with spectacular red flowers. The red seeds are regarded as poisonous and attractive to children because of their colour.

Eucomis sp - Pineapple Lily. This lovely deciduous bulb produces very attractive flowers that resemble a pineapple. It is purported to have killed cats and poisoned humans.

Euphorbia ingens - Naboom and other Euphorbia species. A succulent tree found in warm areas. The milky latex of all Euphorbias is very toxic causing a skin irritation and blistering. It can cause blindness and is lethal if ingested.

Gloriosa superba -  Flame Lily. This climber produces the most unusual orange and yellow flower that is very striking. The entire plant is poisonous and is responsible for deaths.

Gnidia kraussiana - Gifbossie. This pretty grassland specie has yellow flowers. The young leaves and the flowering tips are considered to be extremely poisonous.

Hypoxis rooperi - Star Flower. A grassland specie that apparently is potentially dangerous, although the Hypoxis hemerocladdea is used as a muthi plant.

Kigelia Africana - Sausage Tree. This very distinctive tree has beautiful red, velvety flowers and distinctive seed that look like 30cm sausages. The unripe fruit is poisonous.

Melianthus sp - Cape Honey Flower. These decorative shrubs are grown for their foliage. There are reports of stock and human losses and apparently the root is the most poisonous.

Mundulae sericea - Cork Bush. This lovely little tree has corky bark and pretty mauve flowers. The seeds and the bark are used as a fish poison.

Nerine species -Spider Lily. These pretty, delicate, little white, pink or red flowers with grass-like leaves also have poisonous bulbs. They don’t not usually cause fatalities.

Osteospermum sp – Blue and white Daisy. The leaves and the flowers are poisonous and cattle have been poisoned after eating these.

Ornithogallum thrysoides, saundersae and dubium - Chincherinchee. A tall flower spike up to 60 cm produces many small flowers. The whole plant is toxic, the bulb being the most poisonous part. It is said that eight flower spikes are enough to kill a horse.

Scadoxus puniceus - Paintbrush. This stunning red paint brush- like flower appears in spring in the shade of trees. The poisonous bulb has caused stock losses.

Senecio tamoides - Canary Creeper.  This evergreen climber has pretty yellow daisy flowers. The seeds are poisonous.

Strophanthus sp. These unusual flowers have long appendages and makes them very striking. The seeds are the most poisonous part but other parts are used as arrow poisons.

.Urginea sp - Slangkop. This grassland specie produces pretty pink or white flowers that are star shaped. The whole plant is considered to be toxic and stock losses have occurred.

Zantedescia sp - Arums. This is a well-known and much loved bulb for the shade. If eaten this plant causes gastritis, vomiting and purging. If large quantities of the seeds are eaten it can be fatal. Interestingly, cooking destroys the poisons and many indigenous folk eat the stems, leaves and flowers.

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