Drawing: Cobra helicopter Drawing: Cobra helicopter

Image: Physic nut

Physic nut
Jatropha curcas
Spurge (Euphoriaceae) Family
Drawing: Skull and Crossbone

Description: This shrub or small tree has large, 3- to 5-parted alternate leaves. It has small, greenish-yellow flowers and its yellow, apple-sized fruits contain three large seeds.

The seeds taste sweet but their oil is violently purgative. All parts of the physic nut are poisonous.

Habitat and Distribution: Throughout the tropics and southern United States.

Image: Poison hemlock, fool's parsley

Poison hemlock, fool's parsley
Conium maculatum
Parsley (Apiaceae) Family
Drawing: Skull and Crossbone

Description: This biennial herb may grow to 2.5 meters high. The smooth, hollow stem may or may not be purple or red striped or mottled. Its white flowers are small and grow in small groups that tend to form flat umbels. Its long, turnip like taproot is solid.

This plant is very poisonous and even a very small amount may cause death. This plant is easy to confuse with wild carrot or Queen Anne's lace, especially in its first stage of growth. Wild carrot or Queen Anne's lace has hairy leaves and stems and smells like carrot. Poison hemlock does not.

Habitat and Distribution: Poison hemlock grows in wet or moist ground like swamps, wet meadows, stream banks, and ditches. Native to Eurasia, it has been introduced to the United States and Canada.

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Updated: 26 February 2011
Born on 14 January 2000