The Worst Plants | 8 Plants You Want to Avoid at All Costs

(Last Updated On: October 2, 2019)

The Worst Plants

Some of you might identify as tree-huggers, or at least maybe you have friends who do. That’s not a bad thing, but if you’re out there hugging trees, you should know that not all plants feel good to the touch. In fact, coming in contact with the wrong type of plant can lead to some serious health issues. So to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most harmful plants to touch. Ever. Call them tress you should not hug, perhaps. We’ll just call them the worst plants.

Here Are 8 of the Worst Plants You’ll Ever Come Across:

1. Bloodroot

Honestly, nothing good comes from something with “blood” in its name. Especially when it sounds like a crucial ingredient to some type of cursed witches brew. 

At least the name isn’t very complicated, the blood comes from the flower’s sap. Bloodroot comes out of a red-colored rhizome with orange sap. 

Speaking of rhizomes, bloodroot stores the toxic sanguinarine. If you didn’t catch it, “sanguine” generally refers to blood. Blood as in the liquid you want to keep inside of you. What this means for you; don’t touch it. It’s considered escharotic–which means it will eat through your skin.

In fairness to bloodroot, sanguinarine has been suggested sometimes as an alternative remedy to skin cancer. Of course, keyword alternative. It’s not considered reliable, especially since tumors can metastasize from microscopic points. 

Nobody needed to say it; but also don’t drink the stuff.

2. Hemlock

It’s that thing that killed Socrates! It also did Theramenes and Phocion in as well, but most people who’re running on intro-to-philosophy or high-school English knowledge (aka, most of us) really only recognize Socrates. 

Hemlock is mostly dangerous to those who ingest it, including animals. This is mostly because, down the line of chemicals, hemlock produces coniine–which has some similarities to nicotine (that thing in cigarettes). Coniine gets into your nervous system, causing paralysis. While it’s possible to recover if you’re lucky, fatal systems stem from the paralysis we just talked about. Basically your respiratory system shuts down, so you can’t breathe anymore. 

The toxin lasts somewhere between 2 and 3 days, so if you’re getting some method by which you can artificially breathe, you’ll probably end up okay. 

3. Manchineel

Native to the southern regions of North America, as well as the northern regions of South America, this plant bears resemblance to apple trees.

You do not want to eat these apples, though. As in, if you eat these apples it’s probably fatal. We’re talking edemas, internal bleeding, and infections. All at once.

Literally every part of the manchineel tree is toxic in some manner. Some of these toxins aren’t even identified, because this plant hates you. Its sap contains phorbol; among other irritants to the skin. It’s gonna give you a really bad rash. 

But fair you may say; not all trees are made for sap. We only want that maple stuff anyway. Maybe you can take shelter under the manchineel when it rains?

You’re better off just getting drenched, because the bits of sap that rain droplets pick up when they touch the tree and then fall to the ground (or onto you, if you’re under the tree) are enough to cause blisters on contact.

Fine, we’ll just burn these stupid things.

You burn the tree, and by proxy the evil tears of Satan that constitute the sap of the manchineel, you make smoke. Smoke is normal for most things; except the manchineel. The smoke can blind you.

You’d think this would be on top the worst plants ever list, but turns out; it isn’t. We’ll throw some tamer uglies at you so you can cleanse your palette, but it gets worse.

4. Hogweed

Hogweed isn’t as straight up evil as manchineel, but it’s still going to ruin your day. 

We aren’t going to include pictures of the condition, but touching this plant can give you a bad case of phytophotodermatitis. Which basically turns you into a vampire, except you don’t get the cool superpowers. You just get the allergy to the sun.

Yes, touching hogweed will make your skin blister when it comes in contact with the sun. It’s pretty nasty. 

We guess you might consider hogweed higher on the worst plants list if the sun is your jam.

But, if you’re anything like us, staying inside isn’t too much of a problem. Especially when you’re busy hiding from the manchineel plant, or something.

5. Foxglove

This plant is grown for its aesthetic purposes. It looks really pretty. It can do pretty pretty things as well. Foxglove can be used to treat some heart rate abnormalities, making weakened hearts pump better and the like. However, it’s not regulated, so you can very easily mess up the dosage. 

You probably guessed what happens if you mix up the dosage. If you guessed heart failure, you shouldn’t eat this plant. 

Well you really shouldn’t eat it period, but we digress.

6. Oleander

Another pretty looking flower, oleander is a part of the dogbane family. You read us right, dogbane. We don’t think it talks like Tom Hardy in a mask to dogs, though.

Luckily for most adults, mortality rate isn’t all that high. It’ll be mostly children and pets that will be at risk around this pretty plant. 

Most of the symptoms are pretty bog standard, stomach issues like nausea, pain, diarrhea (sometimes with blood), and vomiting. But if things get bad, you can end up with an irregular heart rate (which is never good). Seizures and comas are possible as well, so even if the mortality rate is low, we wouldn’t recommend oleander as your breakfast snack.

7. Mistletoe

This one is on the list less because it’s an evil poison filled toxic bomb or anything like that. While it’s bad for you, we mostly put it here because it’s a traitor. Mistletoe represents Christmas and all your good family times–but it’s also really bad for you. It isn’t fatally bad, really only causing some gastrointestinal upset. 

Like other toxins, you really should only be worried about mistletoe if you’re a kid or pet. 

We still wouldn’t recommend kissing under the mistletoe and then eating the berries as a snack, though.

In case you were wondering: Why Do We Kiss under the Mistletoe?

8. The Suicide Plant aka The Worst Plant Ever

Dendrocnide moroides would be the scientific name, but “Suicide Plant” is a far more dramatic and fitting name. It also earns its place easily as the worst plant ever.

The entire plant is covered in very fine, transparent needles. These needles are so fine that people handling the plant need to wear respirators to keep from inhaling the toxins d. moroides can dish out. And you’re gonna want to trust us; you do not even want to be touching this stuff, much less putting it in your lungs. 

According to Ernie Rider (he works with plants so he’s been injured by them a lot), the sting also lasts for a good while.

“I remember it feeling like there were giant hands trying to squash my chest […] For two or three days the pain was almost unbearable; I couldn’t work or sleep, then it was pretty bad pain for another fortnight (2 weeks) or so. The stinging persisted for 2 years and recurred every time I had a cold shower.”

Others have reported it feeling like being electrocuted and burned at the same time. For those who want to know, yes there have been records of people killing themselves as a result of being stung. If you look around you’ll find records of even animals killing themselves as a result of the sting.

In case it was in doubt, of course this plant is native to Australia. Because everything in Australia hates you.

Nobody tell Poison Ivy this article exists. Show her this quiz about plants we can eat here.



About Kyler 705 Articles
Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and is currently studying at the University of Washington School of Law. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019; sometimes the blog is an excellent platform to answer random personal questions he has about the world. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.