Saturday, February 25, 2012

Poisons Post: Daphne & Deathcaps

Daphne Mezereum

Scientific Name: Daphne Mezereum
Folk/Common Names: Lady Laurel, Spurge Laurel
Toxin Type: Mezerein (Skin burning resign) and Daphnin (Glycoside) Has also been said to be a co-carcinogenic.
Where is the toxin: Sap in the whole bark and the berries.
Toxicity Level: Even chewing a single berry can intensely burn the mouth, throat, and any mucous membranes it comes in contact with.

Symptoms: Small doses can cause nausea, vomiting and digestive tract issues. Larger doses cause convulsions, sight problems, and severe damage to the digestive tract. Fatal doses can put the victim into a coma in which death can ensue.

Interesting Fact: Daphne actually has no relation to true laurels, but humans just liked the sound of the story so the name stuck.

Folk Info: The name Daphne comes from the famous story from Greek mythology.

I found several versions of how Daphne was transformed and by whom, but I personally like the Artemis version the best.

The story briefly is that Apollo in typical asshat fashion decides to offend Cupid, who shoots him with a gold arrows (meaning love) and a lead arrow (meaning hate or disinterest) into Daphne, a nymph. Apollo then ran around trying to rape her (like he does with most womenfolk in the whole of Greece, seriously) and Daphne ran from him. Daphne soon became exhausted from running and beseeched the Gods for help. The version I like best is that, since Daphne was a dedicant of Artemis, the virginal Goddess, she turned Daphne into a laurel so Apollo could never get to her.

The other version is her father, the river god Peneus, saves her from Apollo by turning her into the Laurel. Either way a chick ends up as a tree.

BOTTOM LINE: Yeah I probably wouldn't eat those berries, at the very least you'll be in extreme stomach pain for days.

Deathcap Mushrooms

Scientific Name: Amanita Phalloides
Folk/Common Names: Deathcaps
Toxin Type: Alpha-Amanitin
Toxicity Level: Possibly the most toxic of all the Amanita species. Roughly 1/2 a cap can easily kill a human.

Symptoms: The fact that there is usually a significant delay between eating the mushroom and the appearance of external symptoms makes this mushroom a particularly deadly poison. Most people don't realize their internal organs are being destroyed until far past the point of too late. The first symptoms mimic the stomach flu and then they appear to resolve, so most victims assume they're fine. Following that, severe damage to the internal organs commences, including complete and utter destruction of the liver, seizures, cranial pressure, convulsions, and potential heart poisoning. Complications of this usually cause death, but survivors usually need liver transplants. Luckily if caught soon enough massive doses of penicillin have a fair chance of saving the victim.

Interesting Fact: Death Caps are the single most deadly mushroom in the world; it's responsible for the most poisoning amongst humans of any mushroom. This is largely because it resembles several edible mushrooms and is said to taste pleasant.

Folk Info: Has been rumored to have been used in the deaths of famous figures throughout history, by mistake or assassination. (Such as Charles IV and Emperor Claudius)

BOTTOM LINE: If you eat this it seems like you're in the market for a new liver if you live.

Disclaimer: Info is not evaluated by the FDA, yadda yadda, and please don't eat poison or handle it without some sort of training or a good herbalist (although both would be best!). Thanks.



  1. "If you eat this it seems like you're in the market for a new liver if you live."

    LOL (but that would suck). Good to know. My sister's at college learning to become a horticulturist, and she loves mushrooms. I think I'll share this with her. ^_^

  2. Great post, you have pointed out some superb details, I will tell my friends that this is a very informative blog thanks.
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