Tuesday, May 11, 2010

#34. Some Poisonous Plants of India_ A Sequel

Thevetia peruviana

callotropsis gigantea


Acacia concinna_shikakai

Euphorbia Tirucalli

Added on Tuesday 11 May ‘10
Some more information on poisonous plants around us.
It is said that Madar milk (calotropsis gigantea) mixed with mother’s milk was used for infanticide during olden days. (My impression upto now was that Madar or Aak is not poisonous.)
Thevetia peruviana was used the same way. These plants are toxic to most vertebrates as they contain cardiac glycosides. Many cases of intentional and accidental poisoning of humans are known. A few bird species are however known to feed on them without any ill effects. One man's food is another man's poison!

Acacia concinna (Shikakai) which is used all over the country for its cleaning quality, especially for hair where it also acts as a detangler, is used in Bengal as a fish poison. The plant parts used for the powder are the bark, leaves or pods. The bark contains high levels of saponins which act as foaming agent. The saponins, apart from potent marine toxin has also spermicidal effect against human semen.
Of the two more plants which have come to my notice, the first is Diffenbachia. It is a very common potted plant seen in homes and offices all over the country. It is also a dangerous plant if the leaves are taken internally. The tongue gets thickened combined awith intense pain and a child can can choke to death in a minute or so with an adult taking about 15 minutes. Its sap if it goes in the eye can cause blindness.
More than quarter century ago when my daughter was a toddler the local civil surgeon had come to my official residence, saw a potted plant and advised me to immediately have it uprooted and burnt. He said that its sap if it goes in the eye can cause blindness. Today I searched for it in Bose's book . It is EUPHORBIA TIRUCALLI. Bose has written in the description that "it is extremely poisonous."

Most of the plants that I have mentioned in my blog are common household plants found in many home gardens. Poison is not difficult to find! Human life is so precious, but with nature strewn poisonous herbs all around it is so easy to poison somebody or to get poisoned himself.
Note: Some material is based on Wikipedia free encyclopedia.

1 comment:

Ashwin Baindur said...

Very nice, Mr Bhatt. I was not aware of Diffenbachia or the level of poisonousness of Aak also.

Since I regularly take children around, this is important for me to know. Thank you.