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Plant Poisoning

By

Gerald F. O’Malley

, DO, Grand Strand Regional Medical Center;


Rika O’Malley

, MD, Grand Strand Medical Center

Last full review/revision Apr 2020
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Topic Resources

Highly toxic and potentially fatal plants include the following:

  • Castor beans and jequirity beans

  • Oleander and foxglove

  • Hemlock

Castor beans and jequirity beans

Castor beans contain ricin, an extremely concentrated cellular poison. Jequirity beans contain abrin, a related and even more potent toxin. In both, the beans have a relatively impervious shell; thus, the bean must be chewed to release the toxin. However, the seed coating of the jequirity bean is often not intact, and simple bacterial digestion can release the abrin toxin.

Symptoms of either poisoning may include delayed gastroenteritis, sometimes severe and hemorrhagic, followed by delirium, seizures, coma, and death. Whole-bowel irrigation Whole-bowel irrigation Poisoning is contact with a substance that results in toxicity. Symptoms vary, but certain common syndromes may suggest particular classes of poisons. Diagnosis is primarily clinical, but for... read more should be considered because it aims to remove all beans ingested.

Oleander and foxglove

Hemlock

Hemlock poisoning (poison hemlock and water hemlock) can cause symptoms within 15 minutes.

Poison hemlock has nicotinic effects, beginning with dry mouth and progressing to tachycardia, tremors, diaphoresis, mydriasis, seizures, and muscle paresis. Rhabdomyolysis Rhabdomyolysis Rhabdomyolysis is a clinical syndrome involving the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue. Symptoms and signs include muscle weakness, myalgias, and reddish-brown urine, although this triad is... read more and bradycardia may occur.

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