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THE POISON PLANT PATCH

Poison Ivy, Monkshood, Buttercup, Destroying Angel are all examples of toxic plants or mushrooms that can cause vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea, heart failure, contact dermatitis or death.

The deadly beauty of common wildflowers of the Northeast is illustrated here, in addition to the medical symptoms of poisoning. Learn more about the alkaloids, resins, oils and toxic proteins found in house plants, annuals, perennials or native wildflowers. More than 50 plants, mushrooms and algae are included. Did you know that only a few microscopic algae are responsible for the closure of shellfish to harvesting seasonally?

The website contains but a sample of potential poison plants, not all known toxic plants are identified, nor are all known plant toxins included. It is not intended to replace medical consultation, but is intended as an introduction to the possibilities.

FEATURED POISON PLANT

Destroying Angel (Amanita virosa)

Destroying Angel (Amanita virosa)

Destroying Angel (Amanita virosa, A. verna, and A. bisporigera) and Death Cap (Amanita phalloides) produce some of the most poisonous compounds known. As little as 30 grams, or half a mushroom cap, is fatal to a healthy, adult human. This makes the name “Destroying Angel,” just about the most powerful oxymoron in the English language.

Deadly amanitas are large, white, ironically beautiful fungi, which occur singly or in groups in any sort of forest and even on lawns. They grow throughout North America, but A. virosa is very common in Nova Scotia.

Deadly amanitas may be distinguished from all other fungi IF they possess the following characteristics:

1. white or cream-coloured gills with white spores and white spore prints

2. gills attached to the cap, but free of the stalk

3. at the base of the stalk, a persistent cup, the volva, which is a remnant of the universal veil that covers the mushroom during their early, button stage

4. a ring or skirt (also called the annulus) on the stalk although this may not be apparent (or exist) in some amanitas.

[NOTE: There are 2 other mushrooms that are common in Nova Scotia and contain amanitins. The "deadly Galerina" (Galerina autumnalis) is as deadly poisonous as the destroying angels. This mushroom is light brown, the gills are attached to the stem, has a ring but no volva and a brown spore print. It fruits in small clusters in the woods in the fall. Another tan-coloured mushroom, Conocybe filaris, has a small cap (5-15 mm) and a ring but no volva and grows in grassy areas. Since these mushrooms are smaller than the Amanita's more would need to be consumed but the effects of the amanitins in them are just as deadly. ]

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