Spring and summer are great times for flowers since they’re seen as pretty and sweet smelling so it’s no wonder we put them in vases, use them as decoration for special occasions, and bestow on people as gifts saying, “I love you,” “Congratulations,” or “Get well soon.” Flower gardens are at their ultimate splendor during this time of year. Of course, many people do have pollen allergies but we don’t talk about that except on commercials for allergy medicine. Then you have flowers like dandelions, clover, and other wildflowers that are pleasing out on the road but many would consider weeds in a conventional flower garden, especially an English flower garden to be exact. Still, we have to accept the fact that not all flowers are the beautiful sweet smellers we all know and love. Let’s say there are several varieties of flowers and while most are of the conventional variety, there are some that smell bad, are ugly and/or creepy, are poisonous to humans and animals, cause a lot of ecological destruction as an invasive species, and just don’t make good additions to a beautiful flower garden for some reason. And it’s not because they’re weeds for despite their tendency to meet the Roundup Grim Reaper or the lawn mower, many of these wild flowers can still be seen as beautiful or allergenic. So without further ado, here are the flowers you don’t want in your garden and it’s not that they take other nutrients away from your perennials.
1. Titan Arum
Scientific Name: Amorphophallus titanium.
Native to: The rainforests of Sumatra in Indonesia
Desirable Features: Well, it’s a big flower with a massive bloom sometimes purple in color (since my favorite color is purple, this is a great thing).
Why wouldn’t you want it: This is known as one of the worst smelling flowers in the world that it’s one of two species nicknamed “the corpse flower” because it smells like a rotting, stinking corpse. While such an aroma would be considered heavenly by its principal pollinators consisting of flies and beetles (which lay their eggs on dead things), a flower smelling of rotting meat isn’t going to allow a man get laid on Valentines Day unless his date’s a botanist. Thankfully it blooms once every 4 to 6 years on average and its bloom only lasts a day or two.
2. Eastern Skunk Cabbage
Scientific Name: Symplocarpus foetidus.
Native to: The wetlands of Eastern North America from as North of Nova Scotia, to as west as Minnesota and as south as North Carolina and Tennessee.
Desirable Features: It has desirable foliage, a purple bloom, as well as medicinal properties which have been used to treat asthma, epilepsy, coughs, and rheumatism. So if you’re stuck in the woods away from civilization in Eastern North America, this would be a great flower to have at your disposal.
Why you wouldn’t want it: What gives this flower’s designation as “Eastern Skunk Cabbage” is that it gives away a bloom akin to a roadkill skunk. Such odor is desirable for potential pollinating flies but not for anyone else. It also doesn’t help that this flower is capable of thermogenesis (keeping itself warm), which not only lets it to bloom when there’s snow on the ground but also attract its pollinators by mimicking the heat generated by a fresh corpse. So unless you’re an asthmatic stuck near a wetland away from civilization in Eastern North America (or a botanist, naturally), you don’t want this.
Scientific Name: Rafflesia arnoldii. Genus has 27 other species.
Native to: The rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia. It’s one of Indonesia’s natural flowers where it’s a protected species.
Desirable Features: Has an impressive and beautiful bloom and produces the largest individual flower on earth.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Like Titan Arum, it’s also nicknamed, “the corpse flower” because it smells like a rotting corpse designed to attract flies to pollinate it (its red color also helps attract fly pollinators as well, since no one likes the repulsive smell of decaying flesh like a fly). Also, it’s considered a parasitic plant that lacks roots, stems, and leaves as well as doesn’t produce chlorophyll or photosynthesize. Rather it receives nutrients from a host plant (something that gardeners don’t want). Fortunately this flower dies after flowering for 5 days yet it’s seen as a rare species since a successful pollination for these flowers is a rare event in itself.
4. Hydnora Africana
Scientific Name: Same as regular name.
Native to: Southern Africa particularly the semi-arid regions.
Desirable Features: Heard their seeds and fruit are delicious as well as used for tanning leather and preserving fishing nets. Also used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, kidney and bladder complaints, and acne.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Due to it being a parasitic plant that only grows underground until flower, it’s no wonder it resembles a creature you’d see from the movie Tremors (that or female genitalia). Also, since the dung beetle is its choice pollinator, it gives an odor that smells like shit.
5. Bulbophyllum Phalaenopsis
Scientific Name: Same as regular name. Also part of a large genus of orchid.
Native to: New Guinea.
Desirable Features: Well, it’s an orchid and has a pretty color.
Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s a carrion flower known to smell like dead mice to attract flies. And there are many in its genus that smell like rotting flesh as well. So unless you’re an avid orchid collector or botanist, you probably wouldn’t want this in your flower garden.
6.Dead Horse Arum
Scientific Name: Helicodiceros muscivorus.
Native to: Corsica, Sardinia, and the Baleric Islands.
Desirable Features: Well, it’s considered an ornamental plant and has a nice bloom.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Let’s just say it’s called a “Dead Horse Arum” because it’s said to smell like a dead horse to attract flies as pollinators. Doesn’t help that these flowers bloom on bright sunny days so the aroma can spread everywhere like a field freshly spread with manure. This basically ruins the enjoyment of any flower garden in such atmosphere. Also, exhibits thermogenesis.
7. Stapelia Gigantean
Scientific Name: Same as regular name.
Native to: South Eastern Africa.
Desirable Features: Has a mesmerizing, fuzzy bloom which has enjoyed its share of cultivators.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Despite its beauty, it smells like rotting flesh to lure in flies. Culivators are generally advised to keep this plant outdoors so the fresh air could dilute the odor. So fellas, unless your girlfriend cultivates these plants or is a botanist, don’t give her this for Valentines Day.
8. The Voodoo Lily
Scientific Name: Dracunculus vulgaris.
Native to: Greece, the Balkans, the Aegean Islands, and the southwest Turkey.
Desirable Features: It’s widely distributed and cultivated because of its stunning beauty. Not to mention, it can withstand drought.
Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s a carrion flower that smells like rotting flesh to attract flies. Fortunately its stench lasts for about a day. Also, all parts of the plant are considered poisonous so and touching the plant could trigger skin irritation or an allergic reaction.
Scientific Name: Aristolochia gigantean. It’s genus has varieties of 500 species in diverse climates.
Native to: Brazil.
Desirable Features: Well, it’s purple and has a spectacular bloom. As an ornamental plant it’s notable as being hardy. Said to help heal wounds but little else and it’s not worth taking.
Why you wouldn’t want it: For one, it gives a foul odor of rotting flesh to attract flies. Second, many of the flowers in this genus are seen as rather ugly. Third, while it’s been seen as an herbal medicine for centuries (especially in China), it’s a very poisonous plant linked to severe renal and kidney disease as well as cancer. Unfortunately, it continues to be used as an herbal remedy.
10. The Opium Poppy
Scientific Name: Papaver somniferum.
Native to: Asia and the Middle East.
Desirable Features: Well, it’s a medicinal plant as well as used for painkillers and is known for its ornamental beauty. Also, produces seeds which could be used as a condiment for many baked goods like buns and bagels.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Despite its beauty, this flower has a controversial reputation. It has an ambiguous legal status in the United States in which you can’t raise it for cultivation at a large agricultural scale without a license and only for medicinal purposes. Of course, reasons are obvious since these plants are a known source of heroin and other opiates. Still, this beauty managed to cause all sorts of problems throughout history and there’s no stopping it. I mean Great Britain managed to get Chinese people hooked on recreational opium during its empire days, which resulted in two wars. Ditto the War on Drugs in the US. As to why inner city drug lords don’t get into opium poppy cultivation, I don’t have the slightest idea.
11. Western Skunk Cabbage
Scientific Name: Lysichiton americanus.
Native to: Wetlands in the Pacific Northwest.
Desirable Features: It’s a beautiful yellow flower with great foliage. Can be used as a laxative as well as for sores and swellings but only in small quantities and its waxy leaves could be used for food preparation and storage.
Why you wouldn’t want it: While it doesn’t smell of rotting flesh, there’s a reason why it’s called the “Western Skunk Cabbage.” Since it attracts beetles and flies, it’s odor is akin to skunk spray even in old dried specimens. So if you came home from a hiking trip smelling like a skunk despite not seeing one, perhaps this flower may be a reason. Also, using too much of this plant as medicine can result in death.
12.Castor Oil Plant
Scientific Name: Ricinus communis.
Native to: The Southeastern Mediterranean Basin, Eastern Africa, and India.
Desirable Features: Has long been used as a medicinal plant as castor oil which has other uses (yet don’t consume it in its natural state). Also has lovely leaves and pink flowers.
Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most poisonous plant and produce ricin. On milligram of its poison could kill a human adult. Its pink pom-pom flowers are especially dangerous to children. Also, the KGB used this plant’s poison to silence opposition permanently.
13. Nepenthes Truncata
Scientific Name: Same as regular name though it is a pitcher plant.
Native to: The Philippines.
Desirable Features: Well, if you have problems with insects and vermin, I’m sure this carnivorous plant could come in handy.
Why you wouldn’t want it: For one, it’s ugly and probably smells of rotten meat to attract its prey. Second, the fact its known to eat small mammals is rather unsettling, especially since its process to dissolve such animals in digestive enzymes has been seen.
Scientific Name: Atropa belladonna.
Native to: Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Desirable Features: It produces pretty purple flowers.
Why you wouldn’t want it: This flower is highly poisonous and has been used in one of the worst beauty trends in history in which women used the berries to dilate their pupils. Symptoms include, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, slow or fast pulse, loss of balance, staggering, headache, rash, flushing, dry mouth, slurred speech, urinary retention, constipation, confusion, as well as convulsions and death. Though it has been long used as an herbal medicine and homeopathic drug, there’s insufficient scientific evidence to recommend its use. Also known to kill a lot of Roman Emperors.
15. White Snakeroot
Scientific Name: Ageratina altissima.
Native to: The US Appalachian Mountains.
Desirable Features: Has lovely white flowers and has roots that can be used for medicinal purposes.
Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s a highly poisonous plant known to contain tremetol which led to the highly fatal milk sickness known to kill thousands of American settlers in the early 19th century, possibly including the mother of a US president.
16. Water Hemlock
Scientific Name: Cicuta bulbifera. There are 3 other species for this genus though.
Native to: North America.
Desirable Features: It’s flowers look very similar to Queen Anne’s Lace but bigger.
Why you wouldn’t want it: According to the USDA, it’s considered as the most toxic plant in North America with its stalks containing full of the a sap containing cicutoxin. Ingesting a small amount of this could affect the central nervous system and cause seizures as well as bring death within 15 minutes. It’s also deadly to the touch even when dried. Most poisonings occurred due to confusion between these plants and other edible look-alikes, particularly from the Parsley family. Those who survive may develop long term health conditions like amnesia.
17. Elephant Foot Yam
Scientific Name: Amorphophallus paeoniifolius.
Native to: Southeast Asia.
Desirable Features: It has big purple leaves and is used as a cash crop in Southeast Asian countries. Elephant foot yams are used in cuisine as well as in medicine. Can be grown in areas that may seem unsuitable for crops.
Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s nickname is “the stink lily” because it smells like a corpse to attract flies. Also, it’s kind of ugly as well.
18. Black Bat Flower
Scientific Name: Tacca chantrieri.
Native to: Southeast Asia and Southern China.
Desirable Features: Well, it’s not poisonous or smells bad. Also, it’s considered a collector’s item since it’s extremely rare.
Why you wouldn’t want it: This is one of the creepiest flowers ever in existence and is sure to inspire nightmares. So unless you love Halloween, are related to the Munsters or the Addams Family, or live in a dark castle on a hill or some other spooky residence, then this flower isn’t for you. Also, it’s a bitch to cultivate since it needs a lot of water and prefers high humidity so it would maybe work in my area but I’m not sure about the Munsters (since they live in California).
19. Dracula Orchid
Scientific Name: Dracula sergioi. Has 118 species in its genus.
Native to: Central and South America.
Desirable Features: Well, it’s an orchid and it’s rare in the US. Also, it’s harmless.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Well, if there’s a flower named after Dracula, chances are it’s either very dangerous or very scary looking. This one resembles some sci-fi alien monster with a piranha like mouth. So if you aren’t into scary movies, then you probably don’t want this in your garden.
20. Monk’s Hood
Scientific Name: Aconitum carmichaelii. Genus has over 250 species.
Native to: East Asia.
Desirable Features: Well, a lot of these flowers are in a beautiful shade of purple and yellow.
Why you wouldn’t want it: It contains large quantities of pseudocontitine or actonite which is a deadly poison. It’s no wonder that many cultures used this plant to poison their arrows, so they’d be much more lethal. Consuming this flower can lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea followed by burning, tingling, numbness of face, mouth, and abdomen. When consumed in large quantities, leads to instant death. Still, you probably remember this plant from Harry Potter as an ingredient in the Wolfsbane potion; you know what Snape made for Lupin during that special time of the month. Of course, it’s no wonder he got sick from it. Also, used as Hannah McKay’s killing method of choice on Dexter.
Scientific Name: Nerium oleander.
Native to: The Mediterranean region, most likely.
Desirable Features: It smells sweet and has beautiful pink flowers with petals being crimson, magenta, or creamy white. Also, a rather hardy plant that could withstand drought.
Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s one of the most toxic plants in the world and every part of this flower is incredibly poisonous if ingested. In fact, even inhaling one burning is seen as a health threat and even honey derived from its nectar could kill you. A single leaf could kill a child. Most of its human victims are campers who used this flower’s branches to roast marshmallows and hotdogs (well, according to urban legend). Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, excess salivation, abdominal pain, irregular heart rate, drowsiness, tremors, siezures, and coma.
Scientific Name: Hyoscyamus niger.
Native to: Eurasia.
Desirable Features: Well, it’s a nice looking flower.
Why you wouldn’t want it: For one it has a foul odor which is the reason it’s known as “stinking nightshade.” Second, all parts of this plant are considered highly poisonous in low doses. Symptoms ingesting it include visual hallucinations, dilated pupils, restlessness, flushed skin, vomiting, slow and fast pulse, hyperpyrexia and ataxia.
23. Poison Hemlock
Scientific Name: Conium maculatum. There’s another species in this genus from Southern Africa. Also, don’t confuse it with the tree which is a different species entirely.
Native to: Europe and the Mediterranean.
Desirable Features: Resembles a bit like Queen Anne’s Lace.
Why you wouldn’t want it: This flower is extremely poisonous and ingesting small doses could cause respiratory collapse, muscular paralysis, and death. Retains poisonous properties when dried and is deadly to the touch. The famous Greek philosopher Socrates was condemned to death by drinking this. Second, because it’s poisonous, it could infest large pastures and open waste areas earning its invasive status.
24. Hemlock Water Dropwort
Scientific Name: Oenanthe Crocata. Genus has another species.
Native to: Europe and the Mediterranean.
Desirable Features: Resembles a bit like Queen Anne’s Lace. Leaves pose no danger.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Despite its beauty, this is an extremely toxic plant (considered the most toxic plant in the UK), especially the stem and roots. A single root from this could kill a cow and human fatalities are known. It’s considered especially dangerous due to its resemblance to Chinese celery, Japanese wild celery, and it doesn’t help it shares the same genus.
25. Yellow Jasmine
Scientific Name: Gelsemium sempervirens.
Native to: Southeastern US, Mexico, and Central America. State flower of South Carolina.
Desirable Features: Pretty yellow flowers and is sometimes used as an herbal medicine (when used right).
Why you wouldn’t want it: All parts of this plant contain the toxic strychnine alkaloids gelsemine and gelseminine, which is fatal to honeybees (and even more reason you wouldn’t want it in your garden, especially since there have reports of colony collapse disorder. Let’s just say any flower that’s fatally toxic to honeybees should never be used in a flower garden ever). Children have been poisoned sucking its nectar after mistaking it for honeysuckle and it can cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals.
26. Crown Vetch
Scientific Name: Securigera varia.
Native to: Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Desirable Features: Well, it has pretty pink flowers and is used in the US and Canada as erosion control, roadside planting, and soil rehabilitation. I see this flower all the time when I’m on walks. Grows in most environments and provides good forage for deer and elk during the winter as well as good nesting grounds for birds. Rabbits use this plant for food and cover.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Of course, this is coming from an American perspective but in many US states they’re considered an invasive species or noxious weeds. In fact, many Americans consider this a weed. It’s a tough and aggressive spreading plant that will crowd out its neighbors in a show garden and is very hard to eradicate once established. So if you live in the US, don’t plant this unless you’re legally obligated to do so. Not to mention, it’s also poisonous to horses.
27. Latana Camara
Scientific Name: Same as regular name.
Native to: Central and South America.
Desirable Features: Pretty flowers and can survive in a variety of environments. Can go long without water. Indian scientists discovered that the leaves have anti-microbial, fungicidal, and insecticidal properties which is good for many gardeners. It’s been seen as effective for treating ulcers and respiratory infections.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Since this plant has spread to 50 different countries, it’s been considered an invasive species which will often out compete more desirable species which will lead to a reduction in biodiversity. It’s also known to be toxic to livestock like cattle, sheep, horses, dogs, and goats.
28. Rhododendron Ponticum
Scientific Name: Same as regular name. Its genus has over 1,000 species and includes azaelas.
Native to: Southern Europe and Southwest Asia. National flower of Nepal and state flower of West Virginia and Washington.
Desirable Features: This is a highly desirable evergreen shrub with big flowers and lovely green foliage. These flowers make a trip to my local cemetery almost a dream come Memorial Day and I always take pictures of them with my camera.
Why you wouldn’t want it: For one, this plant is considered a highly invasive species in New Zealand, the British Isles, and Western Europe. Second, it’s highly toxic especially to horses that are said to die within hours of ingesting it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, hallucinations, paralysis, severe pains, and even death and its effects have been known since ancient times. Even its honey is poisonous to humans which can cause hypotension and bradycardia if consumed in sufficient quantities. Also, these plants are very prone to a whole range of pests and diseases (Wikipedia has a whole list of ills for this shrub). So it’s a great flower to look at but not a good one to have.
Scientific Name: Tanacetum vulgare.
Native to: Europe and Asia.
Desirable Features: Pretty yellow flowers and seen as a natural insecticide as well as good companion plant.
Why you wouldn’t want it: In many areas of the world particularly North America, this is seen as an invasive species known to spread prolifically. Also, it’s a toxic plant in all parts, especially to livestock.
30. Cultivated Tobacco
Scientific Name: Nicotiana tabacum. Genus has 67 species.
Native to: The Caribbean. Introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus himself, if not then possible hybrid.
Desirable Features: Pretty pink flowers. Can also be used as an insecticide.
Why you wouldn’t want it: This plant doesn’t have a good reputation since it’s responsible for a lot of deaths from all kinds of diseases per year, particularly cancer (that and the 599 other additives in tobacco products). Those who work on tobacco farms and plantations are constantly exposed to nicotine poisoning as well as to a large amount of pesticides and other chemicals. Not to mention, this plant could be prone to a whole host of diseases and pests. Also, cultivating this plant in developing countries has led to significant deforestation and environmental damage.
31. Purple Loosestrife
Scientific Name: Lythrum salicaria.
Native to: Europe, Asia, northwest Africa, and southeastern Australia.
Desirable Features: Pretty purple flowers and seen as a medicinal herb for bowel problems. Well suited for most environments.
Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s a highly invasive plant in New Zealand and North America. Its infestations result in dramatic disruption of water flow in rivers and streams as well as a sharp decline in biodiversity, especially in wetlands. Known for crowding out other native plant species like cattails. So if you live near a swamp, don’t plant this.
32. Common Foxglove
Scientific Name: Digitalis purpurea. Genus contains 20 species.
Native to: Europe.
Desirable Features: Pretty purple flowers.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Toxic in all parts including the water any cut stalks sit in. Even in its dried state, it can kill. Poisoning is most commonly found in livestock, pets, and children. Sometimes mistaken for the edible comfrey plant and brewed as tea in which the results could be fatal. Symptoms include Stomach pain, nausea, violent vomiting, vertigo, muscular stiffness, fatigue, headache, pulse at first rapid and violent but soon weak and irregular, dilated pupils, dimness of vision, delirium.
33. Ox-Eye Daisy
Scientific Name: Leucanthemum vulgare.
Native to: Europe and Asia.
Desirable Features: Well, it’s a daisy and appears conventional as such.
Why you wouldn’t want it: It’s a highly invasive species in North America, Australia, and New Zealand known for displacing native plants and modifying existing communities. It’s particularly troublesome in agricultural areas where cows won’t eat it which will enable it to spread and it’s host to several viral diseases that affect crops. In the US it’s prohibited in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Washington, Wyoming, and West Virginia.
34. Creeping Buttercup
Scientific Name: Ranunculus repens. Genus has 600 species including spearworts, crowfoots, and celandine.
Native to: Europe, Asia, and northwestern Africa.
Desirable Features: Pretty yellow flowers.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Though initially seen as an ornamental plant, it’s an invasive species in many parts of the world and is usually spread through transporting hay. Not to mention, it’s toxic in all parts to humans and animals (except when dried in hay) with symptoms including bloody diarrhea, excessive salivation, colic, and severe blistering that affect the mucous membranes and gastrointestinal tract. Yet, while grazing animals know to avoid this plant, they will sometimes eat it out of desperation.
35. Blessed Milk Thistle
Scientific Name: Silybum marianum.
Native to: Southern Europe and Asia.
Desirable Features: Pretty purple flowers and is widely cultivated in Europe, Asia, and South America for several different uses.
Why you wouldn’t want it: For one, it has sharp spikes all over its foliage, which you wouldn’t want to touch on the roadside. Second, it contains the toxin potassium nitrate which is toxic humans and animals, particularly cattle and sheep. Symptoms include oxygen deprivation, which is a terrible way to die. Third, it’s considered an invasive species in Iran, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Fourth, its appearance gives an impression that it more likely belongs in some mad scientist’s garden than yours, considering its freakish display. That or seems like an appropriate corsage for a Klingon wedding.
36. Common Water Hyacinth
Scientific Name: Eichhornia crassipes.
Native to: The Amazon Basin.
Desirable Features: One of the few Amazon flowers that could survive outside the rainforest (it’s been recently spotted in New York). Could be used for bioenergy and waste water treatment. Also, a very pretty purple flower with a petal resembling a peacock feather.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Since its introduction to the US in 1884, this little beauty has been responsible for all kinds of environmental damage such as choking up rivers, killing fish, and stopping shipping in Louisiana as well as clogging Florida’s waterways. Not only that but it nearly wrecked Florida’s environment and economy. There were many eradication attempts, including one by the US War Department pouring oil over it, yet none prevailed. The US government was so desperate to get rid of this plant that Congress almost passed a bill that would’ve authorized the importation of hippos for this very purpose in 1910. Yes, hippos, but this method wouldn’t have worked either because it’s also considered an invasive species in Africa, particularly Lake Victoria.
37. Lily of the Valley
Scientific Name: Convallaria majalis.
Native to: Asia and Europe.
Desirable Features: Pretty white flowers which explains why it’s used a lot in bridal bouquets.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Unless you’re familiar with the later seasons of Breaking Bad (sorry to spoil it), you probably don’t know that this beauty can be very deadly. It’s highly poisonous in all parts including the berries and contains 38 different cardiac glycosides. If ingested even in small amounts, it could cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and a reduced heart rate. For the prospective brides hoping to become black widows someday, this is the perfect flower for you.
38. American Pokeweed
Scientific Name: Phytolacca Americana.
Native to: Eastern North America.
Desirable Features: Well, pretty white flowers and nice dark berries. It’s a good source for songbirds like the Gray Catbird, Northern Cardinal, Brown Thrasher, and Northern Mockingbird. Young leaves (those that don’t have red in them) and berries can be eaten but only when properly cooked.
Why you wouldn’t want it: These plants are poisonous though the ripe dark berries are the least toxic; it’s when they’re green you really have to worry about them and whether they’re consumed raw in large quantities. Infants and small children should avoid consuming them at all times. As for the rest of the plant, well, those parts get more poisonous as it matures. And adults have been poisoned (sometimes fatally) by eating improperly prepared leaves and shoots, particularly if the root is harvested with the shoots, and by mistaking the root for an edible tuber. So if you’re served any pokeweed dish at a dinner party, you might not want to eat it. Symptoms upon ingesting may include anemia, altered heart rate and respiration, convulsions and death from respiratory failure. Could also possibly cause mutations (perhaps leading to cancer) and birth defects. Yet, animals would only consume them in desperation or if it’s in contaminated hay. Still, while it shouldn’t be touched with bare hands, the juice is less hazardous than the sap (which can cause dermatitis). Also, they are particularly invasive and a pain to get rid of (burning it won’t help, believe me).
39. Scotch Broom
Scientific Name: Cytisus scoparius.
Native to: Western and central Europe.
Desirable Features: Pretty flowers. Can grow almost anywhere.
Why you wouldn’t want it: Contains a toxin that causes heart palpitations and affects the central nervous system, which is harmful to both humans and livestock. In the American West as well as in New Zealand, Australia, and India, this is a particularly invasive plant known to inhibit reforestation efforts after timber harvests.
40. Giant Hogweed
Scientific Name: Heracleum mantegazzianum.
Native to: The Caucasus Region in Central Asia.
Desirable Features: Resembles a giant version of Queen Anne’s Lace like it’s on steroids or some radioactive plant food.
Why you wouldn’t want it: For one, it’s an invasive species spreading like wildfire and drowning the native flora and destroying ecosystems in its wake, especially in wetland areas. Second, it’s a phototoxic plant and public health hazard. Skin contact with its watery sap could produce painful burning blisters that could leave purple and black scars. If in contact with eyes, then blindness. Because of it being up to 8-20ft tall and dangerously poisonous to the touch, don’t think you can get rid of it with your weed whacker or mower. In fact, you can’t so it’s best to call professionals or local authorities who can properly destroy the plant and seeds.