Flowers Water Dropwort and Dead Man’s Fingers. This

Flowers are given as a gesture of kindness or a way to express feelings to a loved one. With Valentine’s Day and dances in a month, flowers can be really useful for gifts.  (pause) Poisonous flowers are given in attempted murder, which is also very useful for Valentine’s Day and dances. For my Informative Speaking I will be discussing three poisonous flowers, Atropa Belladonna, Oenanthe Crocata, and Aconitum Napellus. My first flower will be Atropa Belladonna of the family Solanaceae, also known as Deadly Nightshade, Sorcerer’s Cherry, and Love’s Apple. Throughout history, Atropa Belladonna has been used in Italy to add blush to cheeks, dilate the eyes-which makes the eyes prettier and was all the rage in Middle Ages. In fact, Belladonna translates to “beautiful woman” and Atropa was derived from the Greek Fate, Atropos. Atropa Belladonna also has made appearances in murders such as in the case of Claudius the Roman Emperor, who was killed by a serial killer named Locusta, hired by Agippina the Younger. The legend hasn’t been confirmed, but it has been floating around. There was also a case in 1948 with five children who were picking blackberries. Each child ate at least 20 nightshade berries. They didn’t die, but they were hospitalized the next day. How does the poison work?  I’ll explain how the poison works in scientific terms and then I will translate to English. The alkaloids of atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine essentially block have anticholinergic effects, which induces delirium(temporary) , hallucinations, tachycardia, mydriasis, blurry vision, flushed skin, and dry mouth on the Peripheral Nervous System and dysfunctional memory, disorientation, rapid breathing, and respiratory and heart failure in the Central Nervous System. In English, this means that the organic bases of atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine shut down the signals sent from the brain to the nervous system which causes a lot of bad stuff to happen to you, such as rapid heart rate, bigger pupils, feeling disoriented, and possibly death.  My next flower is the Oenanthe Crocata belonging to the family Apiaceae and is also known as Hemlock Water Dropwort and Dead Man’s Fingers. This is called one of the most deadly plants in Britain. Its smell alone causes giddiness. A bite alone causes death if left untreated. To continue on the scientific train, Oenanthe Crocata’s poison comes from oenanthotoxin, which causes nausea, convulsions, dilated pupils, more spit in your mouth-which differs from Atropa Belladonna, and death. Moving away from science for a brief moment, the Oenanthe part comes from Greek and translates to ‘wine flower’. Crocata comes from the color of seeds which is the color of crocus in that it is yellow. Incidents involving Hemlock Water Dropwort include a Sardinian shepherd committing suicide by eating Oenanthe Crocata. The shepherd died smiling. This was likely due to the Botox-like effect with the facial paralysis. Another incident involved some tourists in Argyll. They thought Oenanthe Crocata was water parsnip and boiled it in a curry.  None of these people died-likely because they boiled the plant in a curry-but they were hospitalized.  One scary thing about Hemlock Water Dropwort is that it looks like many other plants and smells appealing, so there are several incidents involving people picking wild Hemlock Water Dropwort and eating it only to be poisoned.  My final flower will be  Aconitum Napellus belonging to the family Ranunculaceae. Some other names for Aconitum Napellus include Monkshood and Tiger’s Bane. Your history lesson will be a short one-Andres Noble, Canadian actor, died after eating Aconitum Napellus on a camping trim and the Minaro in Asia used the poison on arrows to hunt ibex. As for science, the main toxin is aconitine, which makes your sodium ion channels stay open. This means that your brain stops the signals of pain. Eating the plant causes unsteady heartbeat, tingling or numbness in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, troubled breathing, clammy skin, and possibly paralysis, convulsions, confusion, seizures, and heart failure. Oh, and death in four hours. If you didn’t eat Aconitum, you could still get that tingly feeling and irregular heartbeat because the poison can be absorbed through the skin. Poisonous flowers may be dangerous, but they also serve many useful purposes. For instance(pause as if thinking)…murder?  Making yourself look pretty despite the fact that you may die? As for legal purposes, some of these flowers have been used for their anesthetic qualities and parts of the flowers can be used for medicinal purposes, but beware of buying herbal remedies in some areas as some poisonings have occured when using these herbal remedies.              To sum up this whole speech, Atropa Belladonna,  Oenanthe Crocata, and Aconitum Napellus have many ways that can kill or hurt you, but they also have useful purposes that are legal. When you leave this place, try not to eat any flowers while you go. Flowers can kill.


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