Pick the Perfect Poison

The murderer in my new mystery poisons the victim using a plant that can be found in a backyard garden or in the wild in southern Wisconsin. The poison will be slipped into a food that the victim ingests.

I’d like your help in selecting the perfect poison. The following survey is the result of my on-line research into the most poisonous plants. I’ll describe their effect on humans and the amount of time they take to kill. Hopefully my research has not placed me on the radar of any government agency! My husband is not presently concerned about the nature of my research.

What’s the Perfect Poison?
Please click on this link to confirm your choice of poison
Review images and descriptions below:

  1. Water Hemlock

Extremely poisonous. Cicutoxin is concentrated in the plant’s root system and is often mistaken for an edible plant, like parsnip. Ingestion by grazing cattle has led to death in 15 minutes.

Effects: Overstimulates central nervous system, leads to nausea, abdominal pain, respiratory impairment, kidney failure, tremors, seizures, death

Kills in 15 to 60 minutes

tiny white flowers
  1. Monkshood or Wolfbane

Long used in preparing poison-tipped arrows for hunting or warfare. Fast-acting. Accidental ingesting can be fatal. All parts are poisonous but the roots are especially toxic. Documented case of gardener falling ill from touching the roots. Half a tablespoon in whiskey can kill a large man, and can go unnoticed.

Effects: Gastrointestinal complications, nausea, motor weakness, heart-lung paralysis. Breathing problems, death

Kills in 1 minute to 2 hours

purple flower
  1. Castor Plant

The Guinness Book of Records rates this plant as the world’s most poisonous. The seeds are very deadly, 4-8 are a lethal dose. Hard for coroner to detect. You can extract ricin from the castor beans by soaking them, grinding them in a blender, then filtering using a coffee filter. Wear gloves as is poisonous to touch.

Effects: Burning sensation in mouth/throat, intense abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, death

Kills in 12 to 48 hours

plant with red flower
  1. Belladonna/Deadly Nightshade
    (toxins-atropine, scopolamine)

The sweet and juicy fruit are tempting to children. As few as 2-5 can kill a child, 10-20 an adult. Even touching the plant can cause irritation. Often found sparsely growing in the wild. One of the few plants that is safe for birds and animals, but deadly to humans.

Effects : Attacks the nervous system, resulting in muscle paralysis, dilated pupils, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, headaches, confusion, convulsions

Kills in 6 to 12 hours

purple flower
  1. Nerium Oleander
    (toxin-cardiac glycosides)

This shrub is one of the most dangerous, yet is widely used in parks, schools, and backyards. The leaves flowers, and fruit all contain toxins that will cause cardiac arrest. The poison is so strong even eating honey made by bees that have digested the nectar can poison a person. Deadly for first 24 hours, but after that odds of survival improve. People can be treated by inducing vomiting, having stomach pumped, or given activated charcoal to absorb the poison.

Effects: nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weakness, headache, stomach pain, serious cardiac abnormalities

Kills in 15 to 60 minutes

pink flowers

Originally published in April 2021