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close this bookBiodiversity in the Western Ghats: An Information Kit (IIRR, 1994, 224 p.)
close this folder6. Plants, fungi and bacteria
View the document6.1 Plant associations of the central Western Ghats
View the document6.2 Rare and endangered flowering plants
View the document6.3 Medicinal resources from the forest and sea
View the document6.4 Poisonous plants
View the document6.5 Fungi: Biodiversity, ecology and use
View the document6.6 Conserving fungi
View the document6.7 Edible mushrooms
View the document6.8 Microbial biodiversity of salt pans

6.4 Poisonous plants

Eating some plants can cause illness-and can even kill you. So beware of plants you do not know!

Some plants are poisonous if consumed in large amounts, but can be used as medicines in smaller amounts. About 700 plant species in the world are known to cause illness or discomfort to people and animals.

Since the dawn of civilization, people have cultivated and collected plants to cure ailments. Ancient texts such as the Atharva Veda mention the use of medicinal plants.

Randia dumetorium

Why are plants poisonous?

Poisonous plants contain chemicals that react in harmful ways with our bodies. These chemicals include glucosides, acids and alkaloids. &me plants have evolved poisons as a defence mechanism-to prevent them from being eaten by insects and other animals.

Mucuna gigantia

Do not eradicate poisonous plants!

The aesthetic value and usefulness of poisonous plants far overshadow their poisonous effects.

People, especially children, need to know which plants are poisonous. They should not eat or even touch certain household ornamentals, garden plants or wild species.

If someone is poisoned

In general, it is best to make the person vomit. Mix some teaspoons of salt in a glass of water. Make the victim drink the water until he or she vomits.

For skin irritations, wash the skin with clean water and mild soap. Gently rubbing the juice from aloe over the skin can help ease the irritation.

If these remedies do not work, take the person to a clinic. Take with you part of the plant that caused the problem to help the doctor decide on the best treatment.

How to identify poisonous plants

There is no hard and fast rule to identify poisonous plants. In general, beware of

· plants with white latex or coloured sap.
· mushrooms and toadstools: especially brightly coloured ones

For more information:

Baser, B. D., Indian medicinal plants

Cooke, T., Flora of Bombay

Dastur, Medicinal plants of India and Pakistan

Jain, S. K., Medicinal plants

Vartak, V. D. 1966. Enumeration of plants from Gomantak, India

Wealth of India, C.S.I.R Publication

Poisonous plants

List of poisonous plants found in Goa


Poisonous parts


Abrus precatorius (Gunj)


Powerful oedema, strong swelling

Allamanda cathartica and other members of Apocynaceae(Kaner), Korno

Bark, leaves,

Cathartic (voids bowels)

Alstonia scholaris, Parthenium (Satwan) Eupatorium (Congress Grass) and some grasses

Pollen grains


Anthurium, Dieffenbachia, Philodendron and other members of Araceae

Leaves and stem

Irritation, skin dermatitis

Argemene maxicana(Firengi dutro)


Purging, vomiting

Calotropis gigantea (Ruhi)

Latex in all parts


Caryota urens (Billa Mard)

Pulp of the fruit


Catharanthus roseus (Sadaphooli)



Croton tiglium



Datura innoxia (Dutro)

Leaves and seeds


Euphorbia antiquorum and other species of Euphorbia (Nival)

Latex in all parts


Exoecaria agallocha (Kharo-uro)

Latex or acrid juice

Blisters, purgative, causes abortion

Sapium insigne (Uro)
Semicarpus anacardium (Bibbo)
Girardinia zeylanica (Khaskulio),
Mucuna pruriens and other plants having stinging hair

Leaves and fruits


Hydnocarpus laurifolias (Khasti)


Purging and vomiting

Jatropa multifida (Chini-erandi)

Foliage and fruit

Vomiting, diarrhea

Lantana camera (Ghaneri)


Bloody diarrhea,

Lasiosyshon eriocephalus(Dant paddi)

Stem, leaves, bark

Drops out teeth

Rauwolfia serpentine (Aadki)


Nasal congestion, lethargy, Parkinsonism, mental depression

Ricinus communis (Erand)


Vomiting, colic convulsion

Strychnos.nux-vomica (Caro)


Convulsions, paralysis and death

Prepared by KasturiDesai