These 9 Wild Foods Can Kill You (Slideshow)

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If you’re not careful, you might pick a wild berry that kills you

Castor Beans

Grown on the castor bean plant native plant to India, castor beans are the deadliest plant poison in the world. The bean contains ricin, which is 12,000 times more poisonous than rattlesnake venom and can kill an adult in just a few minutes. Castor oil is safe to consume; just don’t try to cook the beans.

Choke Cherries

Abundant in North America, choke cherries look juicy enough to eat, but as their name suggests, they can choke you to death. The plant’s stalks and leaves are filled with hydrocyanic acid which poisons your respiratory system.

English Yew

Considered one of the deadliest trees on the planet, the only part of the English Yew — common throughout forests in Europe — that is not poisonous is the flesh of the berry surrounding its toxic seed. The tree’s luscious branches and tempting berries look inviting, but its leaves, stems, and seeds containing the toxin taxane will poison you in minutes.

Moonseed

Resembling a cluster of grapes, the fruit from the North American moonseed plant contain a poisonous seed that is fatal if eaten in large doses and not treated immediately. 

Nightshade/Belladonna

Also called “the devil’s cherry,” every part of the nightshade plant — leaves, berries, and roots — is poisonous if consumed. The berries are deceptively sweet, but they contain the deadly toxin atropine. It’s said that Macbeth’s soldiers poisoned the invading Danes with wine made from nightshade berries.

Rosary Peas

Rosary peas are called so because of their traditional use as ornamental beads for rosaries. Despite their seeming sweetness, these seeds contain abrin, one of the deadliest toxins on earth, inducing symptoms from vomiting and nausea to G.I. dysfunction, hyperexcitability, and convulsive seizures.

Strychnine Seeds

We know the strychnine tree as Queen Cleopatra’s potential means of suicide. She famously forced her servants to commit suicide by consuming the tree’s fruit seeds, which contain high levels of strychnine and brucine, to see if they would be an adequate aid in her own suicide. Cleopatra decided on a less painful death — a bite from a poisonous Egyptian snake.

“The Apples of Death”

The manchineel tree, found in the Florida Everglades, Central America, and the Caribbean, bears a sweet fruit nicknamed “the apple of death” that blisters the mouth and closes up the throat when eaten. Coming into contact with any party of the tree can be fatal, whether you breathe in its sawdust or get squirted with dripping sap.


White Baneberry

These bizarre-looking white berries, which could almost be mistaken for mini marshmallows, contain cardiogenic toxins which cause cardiac arrest and death if eaten.