Sneaky Little Bastards! Poisonous Plants Disguised as Everyday Foods


by Alex Castanon

If you suddenly get the intense urge to live off the land and explore your roots, be very careful what you pop into your gob because some of the seemingly innocent looking flora out there in the wild are actually wickedly poisonous! They seem all innocent and sweet but then WHAM! You are hit with some of the deadliest poisons in the world. And these plants can be found in ordinary places, local gardens and maybe even your pantry at home.

Here are some highly poisonous plants that disguise themselves as “normal” food.

Lily of the Valley


Lily of the Valley is cute little wood flowering plant. It enjoys the shade and is a great filler for any garden. Because of its lovely scent and whimsical little fairy bell flowers, it has also adorned many a bridal bouquet. Also, nearly every part of the plant is highly poisonous! Lily of the Valley produces glycosides as a defense against predators. When it is not in bloom, the leaves of this plant look very similar to a leek. It is often mistaken for bear garlic and used in cooking. Symptoms of poisoning include blurred vision, intense stomach pain, vomiting, irregular or slow heartbeat and, depending on the amount consumed, even death. Charming!

*You might recognize Lily of the Valley from its cameo in Breaking Bad.



A lot of children get nabbed by this one. As we all know, they just love to put things in their mouths. These little things are bite sized and look just like pea pods. Wisteria contains both lectins and a toxic glycoside called wisterin. Even as little as two of the seeds are enough to cause serious damage.  You’ll know pretty quickly that something is off! Symptoms include severe gastrointestinal distress, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Because of its beautiful purple flowers and lovely scent, Wisteria is a favorite addition to gardens, making it easy pickings for both kids and pets.

Castor Bean


Ahh, what a nice surprise! Beans, beans, the magical fruit the more you eat the more you…die a horrible painful death. At least you will if you decide to make refried beans out of these babies! The castor bean contains ricin, one of the most toxic naturally occurring substances in the world. It is said to be 6,000 times more poisonous than cyanide with as little as one gram being all that is needed to kill a full grown adult! Castor oil on the other hand is rich in ricinoleic acid, which is said to be useful in many therapeutic remedies. Death and/or glowing skin. Go figure.



Hey wait! I’ve eaten pies made of this stuff, it can’t be poisonous! Either that or the person who gave you the pie is out to get you…bah bah duh duh! Not all parts of the plant are poisonous, but the leaves are bad news and contain oxalic acid. If you eat this you could experience any of the following highly unpleasant scenarios including: difficulty breathing, burning in the throat and mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, coma, and death. To keep yourself safe, have provided the helpful diagram below. Leaf bad, stalk good. Or in other words, pie good, leafy greens bad. No! Don’t think that! Just no rhubarb leaves okay?


Stay safe on your nature forays Sporkers! Don’t throw every green thing you see into your juicer 😉

Post by Alex Castanon.