Snow White isn’t the only one who needs to watch out for poisonous fruits! We already know that apple seeds can kill you, but are there any other fruits and veggies in your garden plotting to put you in the ground? You might be surprised to find out which popular plants, from the everyday to the exotic, are gunning to be your last meal. (Alternate painful plant puns: tubular plants to die-t for, poisonous plants you won’t relish).
“Death by potato” sounds like a menu item at Denny’s, but it is actually possible. Potatoes produce a natural pesticide called Solanine, which exists at toxic levels in green potatoes. The green is caused by the production of chlorophyll, which coincides with a potato’s increased concentration of Solanine. You shouldn’t eat any green parts of a potato, including its sprouts and leaves.
No need to put down your mulled wine and elderberry pie, ripe elderberries lose their poisonous properties when cooked. The risk lies in elderberry leaves and stems, which produce cyanide, and uncooked or unripe elderberries, which contain a toxic alkaloid. In particular, elderberry tea (made with elderberry leaves) should be treated cautiously and is the most frequent cause of elderberry fatality.
Raw bitter almonds have been banned from unrestricted use in the US since 1995. Why? Because their unprocessed form is chock full of cyanide. A 150-pound adult could die from eating anywhere from 10 to 70 raw nuts. However, because of its intense and unique flavor, it’s still available in restricted amounts to chefs and diligent exotic food junkies who know where to look.
As seems to be the trend with these poisonous plants, the leaves on a Rhubarb are not safe, but those pretty red stalks are just fine. The leaves contain oxalic acid and if ingested, can easily lead to stomach pain and nausea (and presumably death if you’re on an intense rhubarb leaf tea bender).
Nutmeg contains myristicin, a toxic and mind-altering compound if ingested in large doses. While it is sometimes used for its hallucinogenic qualities, its intensely nasty and prolonged side effects are a strong deterrent. Consuming any more than 2 nutmegs at a time can result in severe gastrointestinal reactions, heart palpitations, and even death.
Cassava (also called Yucca), the star of many cakes and tapioca pudding cups, is also full of cyanogenic glycosides (cyanide) and is potentially deadly if improperly cooked. This poisonous tuber is actually a staple food for many countries outside the US, including many places throughout Africa and South America, and those are where concerns about improperly cooked cassava primarily lie.
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