Friday, November 06, 2009

Death by rosary bead - poisonous plants

I love the web.

When my science kid asked me about the deadliest plant, I asked Google. Google sent me to the "five most poisonous plants". Plant #3 was used to make Rosaries. I have a strong suspicion that the rosary my mother had 40 years ago was made with this seed ...
HowStuffWorks "Rosary Pea"
.... rosary pea seeds contain the poison abrin. The seeds are only dangerous when the coating is broken -- swallowed whole, the rosary pea doesn't present any danger. But if the seed is scratched or damaged, it's deadly. The rosary pea poses greater danger to the jewelry maker than to the wearer. There are many reported cases of death when jewelry makers prick a finger while handling the rosary pea...
Wikipedia has more on abrin, which, unlike its cousin ricin, has not been weaponized. It's impressive how many of these very poisonous plants are fairly common.

Great material for one of those medical mystery TV shows.

Note mushrooms are fungi, not plants. So they didn't make the list.

No comments: