Sunday, August 12, 2012

Poisons Post: Lily of the Valley & Laburnum

Lily of the Valley

Scientific Name: Convallaria majalis

Folk/Common Names: Lily of the Valley, May Bells, Mary's Tears
Toxicity Level: Extremely poisonous, especially the berries the plant produces.
Poison Type: Over 40 different cardiac glycosides have been identified in this flower, so you take your pick. {Glycosides impact how much and how hard the heart pumps}
Where is the Poison: The entire plant, again worst in the berries.

Symptoms: Generalized stomach pain, nausea, intestinal distress, graduating into burred vision with possibility of seeing 'halos' around objects, abnormal heart beat, rashes, depression, headaches, fainting, and potentially death.

Interesting Fact: The way the plant grows is by forming an elaborate network of roots underground, and spawning several strings of flowers from the same underground network.

Folk Info: The name Mary's Tears come from the Christian belief that the plant formed from the tears of Mary following the crucifixion of Jesus.

The Pagan version of that? This plant was considered to be sacred to the Goddess Ostara, who was also a virginal Germanic Goddess...oh, you get the picture.


It's really pretty but really terrible to think about eating. For some reason I find the fact it's used in weddings yet is super toxic hilarious.

Common Laburnum

Scientific Name: Laburnum
Folk/Common Names: Golden Chain

Toxicity Level: Reports differ on how toxic, but most reports claim it's not so deadly that it will kill anybody who eats it.

Poison Type: Cytisine
Where is the Poison: Mostly the seeds of the plant, that again look like berries.

Symptoms: Nausea and vomiting, intestinal distress, headaches, vision issues, convulsions, heart pain, and in extremely high doses, death.

Interesting Fact: Cytisine is actually considered a positive agent in many countries because it mimics the effect of Nicotine. So it can be used to help a person quit smoking.

Folk Info: This tree has a strangely bad reputation by most people's assumptions. Apparently the reason this tree is considered horribly toxic is some (probably false) reports of children dying from ingesting the berries, that look like peas. In reality, the reports we DO have show a range of effects, from nothing to severe, but most end up recovering. The records of deaths we do have from the plant is non-existent. But would I personally risk it? No.


Just pick up a cigarette because in this case it might be safer.

Info not evaluated by the FDA, not meant to replace advice by a doctor or other licensed herbalist, not a recommendation to eat or handle poison or do stupid things. Educational use only, thanks, etc etc

Back to the Master Poison List?

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