A List of Poisonous Plants and Herbs and Their Lore

Updated on April 15, 2016
kittythedreamer profile image

Nicole is an avid gardener. She enjoys sharing with others what she's learned about gardening herbs, flowers, and tropical plants.

A Brief List of Poisonous Herbs

While herbs were put on this planet for a purpose to aid human beings in healing, unfortunately there are some herbs that are considered poisonous herbs. When we say poisonous herbs here, we are talking particularly poisonous for human consumption. That doesn't mean that these poisonous herbs cannot be used for other reasons, which will also be described here.

Herbs have been used for thousands of years in healing diseases and injuries, but they have also been used as a major part of folk magic for various purposes including good luck, love, prosperity, protection, and more. Just because the poisonous herbs below are labeled as poisonous doesn't mean you should never use them in your practice. Just take heed before using them, make note of how poisonous they are and what sort of poisonous herbs they are. Keep them away from children and pets, especially.

Also, please note that this list of poisonous herbs details poison herbs that are came across most often in herbalism and folk magic in the United States but is by NO means a full list of poisonous herbs. Before using any herb or plant, please look up its properties in a trustworthy source to identify whether it is poisonous and any effects it might have if taken internally. If you're unsure or reluctant, contact a certified herbalist.

Belladonna Atropa is the poisonous nightshade of Europe.
Belladonna Atropa is the poisonous nightshade of Europe. | Source
Real photo of belladonna.
Real photo of belladonna. | Source

List of Poisonous Herbs: Belladonna

Belladonna is known as many things including Witch's berry, Banewort, Black Cherry, Deadly Nightshade, Death's herb, Devil's Cherries, and Fair Lady. Just by simply reading these names, one can gain a hint as to the poison associated with this poisonous herb. While Belladonna is beautiful, it is also quite deadly if ingested. Some of the deities associated with this poisonous herb are Bellona, Circe, and Hecate. It was said that Belladonna was used in ancient Rome in order to cause visions while worshiping particular deities, specifically Bellona (the ancient Roman Goddess of war). The name of this poison herb Belladonna actually is Italian for "beautiful woman". Belladonna is a poison herb that was believed to have been used by witches to make a special "flying ointment" in order to rub on their skin and "fly" to their coven gatherings. This belief however is silly folklore and incorrect; however, it may have been used as a hallucinogen in order to induce psychic dreams or visions.

Belladonna is a poisonous herb that has large green, veiny leaves and pinkish-purple flowers that look like little cups. Belladonna is also a poisonous herb that grows dark purple berries. You can see how these would be tempting to eat; however, NEVER ingest any part of the Belladonna plant...there are still deaths reported due to accidental ingestion of this poisonous herb.

If you are going to use/keep Belladonna in your practice, it is best to keep Belladonna far away from children and pets and also clearly labelled in a jar so that you are always aware of what it is. This ensures that no mistakes are made and Belladonna is never accidentally ingested by you or anyone else in your household. Never take Belladonna internally or allow anyone else to take it internally. It is far too poisonous to mess with.

Foxglove is one of many poisonous plants that you do not want to consume.
Foxglove is one of many poisonous plants that you do not want to consume.

List of Poisonous Herbs: Foxglove

Foxglove is another poisonous herb on our list of poisonous herbs that should be avoided for internal use. It is also known as dead man's bells and witches' gloves. This poisonous herb is downright gorgeous with its long green spikes and tube-like purple flowers. The flowers of this poisonous herb can also be shades of gray, white, and pink. So pretty that someone might have the idea to eat it...but DO NOT. Foxglove is a poisonous herb and plant and should never be used for consumption/internal use.

It used to be utilized by herbalists but has been abandoned by many, as this poison herb can contain some deadly ingredients that will slow your heart rate and potentially stop your heart altogether. Foxglove has been used in some medicines produced by pharmaceutical companies (Digoxin, etc.), but this is because they have the means in which to extract the good properties and remove the toxic. Please don't attempt to use foxglove for consumption.

For folk magic purposes (not involving consumption of this poison herb), foxglove can be used in various ways: as a protective herb for the home or garden and to represent the element water. Welsh women used foxglove to create a black dye in which to draw lines on their homes' floors to keep evil spirits out.

Video about Foxglove, a Poisonous Herb

Wolfsbane is a plant steeped in werewolf legend and lore...and is also poisonous.
Wolfsbane is a plant steeped in werewolf legend and lore...and is also poisonous. | Source
Source

List of Poisonous Herbs: Wolfsbane

Wolfsbane is another on our list of poisonous plants, as it is indeed a poisonous herb. It has also been commonly called Thor's Hat, Wolf's Hat, Leopard's Bane, and Monkshood. This poisonous herb is not just poisonous internally but should be avoided as a rub on the skin externally, as well.

Wolfsbane belongs to the buttercup family and is a beautiful blue-blossoming, poisonous plant that has been used as arrow poison for centuries. In ancient & Chinese medicinal purposes, wolfsbane could be used to slow the pulse and as a sedative. This poisonous herb should never be used for consumption today, as there are dozens of less risky medicinal herbs ready for your use. If you take in this poisonous herb, usually within an hour the effects are felt and death could occur quite rapidly.

Wolfsbane is a poisonous herb that was used in the old days as protection against vampires and werewolves (hence the name wolfsbane). To protect yourself from werewolves, the poisonous herb wolfsbane can be used with great caution. Again, keep wolfsbane far out of reach of children and all animals and clearly labelled in an air-tight jar. Put the seed of the wolfsbane in a lizard's skin as a protective sachet against werewolves.

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.
- From The Wolf Man, 1941

Daffodils are so pretty! ...And poisonous!
Daffodils are so pretty! ...And poisonous! | Source

Poisonous Herbs: Daffodil

Doesn't it seem as though some of the prettiest things can be the most dangerous? While Daffodils are considered a poisonous plant and poisonous herb, they are not usually fatal (thank the gods). Daffodils are poisonous herbs that should never be ingested as they contain toxic ingredients that could cause dizziness, abdominal pain, and shortness of breath. A trip to the hospital will most likely have to occur after ingesting this poisonous herb.

The poisonous herb Daffodil has also been called a Narcissus and Goose Leek and is seen in folk magic being used for love, luck, and fertility. It is associated with the element water and has feminine qualities. Keep a bouquet in the bedroom to increase fertility or carry them for good luck and love.

Do not consume daffodils and keep them away from children and animals while in the home.

Water Dropwort is just one of the poisonous strains of Hemlock.
Water Dropwort is just one of the poisonous strains of Hemlock. | Source

Hemlock, The Witch's Herb

Hemlock is another of the poisonous herbs that was very popular among witches in the Dark Ages, particularly in England. There are various forms of Hemlock but one in particular is the poisonous strain to avoid or handle with care. And that is the Conium maculatum.

Just like any other "poisonous" herb on this list, Hemlock has been used for both poisoning people and also for healing people. How to determine which use would be poisonous and which would be healing is something that only the most experienced and wise of herbalists would know. Socrates was actually said to have been poisoned by a Hemlock infusion in 399 BC, after being arrested for "impiety". In fact, hemlock infusions were used on many occasions to rid prisons of their criminals.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we see that Hemlock has also been used as an anti-spasmodic and as a sedative. The problem with using Hemlock as a sedative is that if you give a little too much, the person could overdose and go into a paralysis of sorts. And perhaps death. It has also been said that children in Great Britain would make whistles from the stems of Hemlock and therefore be poisoned by this plant.

Hemlock has various names, and is well known and loved by herbalists today as it is so steeped in folklore.

Poisonous Herbs & Poisonous Plants in Pictures

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tansies Are Highly PoisonousAutumn Crocuses Are PoisonousPoisonous Flowering Fool's ParsleyAplectrum, a.k.a. Adam & Eve Root, ToxicBelladonna BerryAgaric, A Highly Poisonous MushroomToadstools are also poisonousPoison Ivy can make a person's skin break out and should never be ingestedPeriwinkle is poisonous when ingestedLily of the Valley can be toxic
Tansies Are Highly Poisonous
Tansies Are Highly Poisonous
Autumn Crocuses Are Poisonous
Autumn Crocuses Are Poisonous
Poisonous Flowering Fool's Parsley
Poisonous Flowering Fool's Parsley
Aplectrum, a.k.a. Adam & Eve Root, Toxic
Aplectrum, a.k.a. Adam & Eve Root, Toxic
Belladonna Berry
Belladonna Berry
Agaric, A Highly Poisonous Mushroom
Agaric, A Highly Poisonous Mushroom
Toadstools are also poisonous
Toadstools are also poisonous
Poison Ivy can make a person's skin break out and should never be ingested
Poison Ivy can make a person's skin break out and should never be ingested
Periwinkle is poisonous when ingested
Periwinkle is poisonous when ingested
Lily of the Valley can be toxic
Lily of the Valley can be toxic
Henbane, used in hallucinogenic concoctions but can be extremely poisonous.
Henbane, used in hallucinogenic concoctions but can be extremely poisonous. | Source

Henbane, Stinking Nightshade

Henbane is in the family Solanaceae, which is the same family as Belladonna atropa. This is the nightshade family, and henbane is also referred to as stinking nightshade or black henbane. The original name of henbane is believed to have actually meant "death" bane, instead of "hen" meaning "chicken".

This poisonous herb was used in magical concoctions, along with other poisonous herbs to induce visions. This type of "potion" or concoction has also been called "flying" ointment or flying potions, as it was believed to have been used by witches in order to give them hallucinations of flying. It was also said to have been used by the priestesses in Athens to contact oracles.

While the herb in large doses can be deadly, the poison of the henbane plant really refers to its hallucinogenic effects. Though you should never consume henbane for the sake of getting "high".

Mandrake Root

Again another poisonous herb belonging to the nightshade family, Mandrake Root is used in modern times in Wiccan and magical ceremonies and ritual. The chemical constituents of the mandrake plant have certain effects on the human body, including being a hallucinogenic and hypnotic. This plant was also mentioned in the Bible a few times.

There was an old legend stating that if the mandrake root was dug up from the ground, it would scream and that the scream would pierce the ears of all who hear it...killing them.

As with any other poisonous herb, Mandrake root is also believed to have medicinal properties that are used today. It is used today as a treatment to remove warts from the body. It has also been tested as a treatment for cancer, but was denied as effective as it was thought to kill too many good cells in the body while also eating the cancer cells.

Mandrake Root is a root that is thought to resemble that of a man.
Mandrake Root is a root that is thought to resemble that of a man. | Source

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Kitty Fields

    Comments

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    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 

      6 months ago

      Great source of information. I was shocked to learn the stalks of rhubarb are okay to eat but the leaves are a serious poison. I collect wild mushrooms and have gotten what I thought was great mushroom, only to verify it and discover the mushroom is highly poisonous. I verify everything before I eat it. So, far so good with wild edibles. I enjoyed reading this. The pictures and illustrations are also good.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I never thought of some of these as poisonous. As you said they are so lovely.

    • prixters profile image

      prixters 

      9 months ago

      excellent article thankyou ... Daffodil... wow !!

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      2 years ago from Summerland

      Discordzrocks - That would be too cool! Thanks for reading.

    • Discordzrocks profile image

      Gavin Heinz 

      2 years ago from Austin TX

      I once found a mandrake root and nearly died, tnx for putting it on the list.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      3 years ago from Summerland

      Elsie - Yes! So true! Funny how they know what to eat and not eat...at least some of the time!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      3 years ago from New Zealand

      I never knew that daffodils were poisonous, now I know why we can grow them in the cow paddock and the animals won't eat them (which if you want them to flower next spring you need to let the leaves die naturally, never mow them), just goes to show that animals have a better knowledge that us.

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great hub on poisonous herbs that you should stay away from. I didn't know that daffodils were poisonous, either.

    • vitar profile image

      vitar 

      4 years ago

      An awesome article. Good job!

    • Penny G profile image

      Penny Godfirnon 

      4 years ago from Southern Iowa

      I will share this with my children, things we did not know.

    • profile image

      MysticMoonlight 

      5 years ago

      Wonderful Hub. The pictures were a big help too, thanks so much!

    • gknutson49 profile image

      gary knutson 

      5 years ago from Wisconson

      I'm new at this game so I'm checking other hubbers to get a real for how to do it & I ran across you. I've been researching health & nutrition for 30+ years & your hub is great. Keep up the good work!!!!

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      5 years ago from Summerland

      Phoenix - Awesome, so nice to hear from you friend! Blessed Yule to you.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Just a quick visit to with you a Blessed Yule.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      5 years ago from Summerland

      WiccanSage - Thanks so much. There are many more that I didn't include in here, that I believe I'm going to put on a second installment.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      5 years ago

      A very useful guide. It's true, so many of these can be found in any common cottage garden. I would agree that daffodils are an herb, too... it has a soft stem (not woody) and dies back at the end of the growing season. But that's just one definition of herb, but botanically it applies. Excellent work.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      Thank you, northlandws!

    • northlandws profile image

      northlandws 

      6 years ago from Fargo, North Dakota

      Thank you for sharing this information.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      Sarah - Not everyone would consider daffodils an herb; however, it is listed in one of my herbal books as being one. So I think it depends on the person.

      Lipnancy - I agree...it is funny that way!

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 

      6 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Nature is funny in that some of the most beautiful flowers/herbs/plants are poisonous.

    • sarahcherbert profile image

      Sarah Crandall Herbert 

      6 years ago from Grass Valley, California

      Great information! Who knew daffodils were considered to be an herb? Interesting, thanks for sharing!

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      Daughter of Maat - Yes, funny isn't it? You'd never think some of these plants would be poisonous. And some aren't completely deadly as they are just toxic and will make you sick.

      ashley bunn - Thanks so much. I like hearing the folknames for herbs too.

      Dragonfly - Agreed!

      phoenix - The thing is that there are many meds in western medicine that have saved lives; however, there are also many that are killing people too. You can't win for losing I guess.

    • phoenix2327 profile image

      Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Lovely pictures and a very informative hub. I think you're right about western meds. I prefer more natural remedies myself. Voted up, interesting, beautiful and useful. Socially shared.

    • DragonflyTreasure profile image

      DragonflyTreasure 

      6 years ago from on the breeze.........

      Ah that's a thought kitty. Sure wish both sides would work together. We'd have a better chance at certain diseases...imo ;)

    • ashleybunn profile image

      ashleybunn 

      6 years ago from South Carolina

      Very informative hub! I learned quite a bit - it was a particularly nice touch to add alternative names for the herbs.

      Voted up, of course :)

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 

      6 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Wow, I had no idea daffodils were poisonous!! Great hub, and the pictures are perfect. Really helpful in identifying these herbs! Voted up and of course shared! :D

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      6 years ago from Summerland

      Dragonfly treasure - Comfrey is not poisonous, though if taken in large quantities can cause liver toxicity...but then again, so can Acetaminophen (Tylenol)! I have a feeling that a LOT of the herbal remedies that were once used were made out to be worse than what they are so that we continue using western medicine and not the natural alternative. Thanks!

      writer20 - Yes, there are many with many different variables, etc. Thanks!

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Thank you for such insightful hub. I only know of Belladonna and Daffodils.

      Voted up useful and interesting.

    • DragonflyTreasure profile image

      DragonflyTreasure 

      6 years ago from on the breeze.........

      Great post! I've heard Comfrey is also poisionous when ingested. So many herbal remedies from yesteryear called for it. Kinda scary.

      Voted up!

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