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15 Strange And Lesser-Known Facts About Plants That Your School Books Never Taught You

Facts about Plants

These facts about plants demonstrate to us that our world is not just about the omnipresence of various flora and fauna but it’s also about the unique and sometimes startling qualities in the species of plants and animals that are present all around us.

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15. There is a plant called Hemlock Water-Dropwort plant which is so poisonous that it induces facial paralysis in people which forces their facial muscles into a smile after they die.

Oenanthe crocata
Image credits: H. Zell via wikimedia,pixabay

The Hemlock Water-Dropwort Plant (Oenanthe crocata) is commonly found along ponds and rivers on the island of Sardinia, now part of Italy. This herb is particularly dangerous because of its fragrant smell and sweet-tasting roots. The plant, however, contains powerful neurotoxins which are so dangerous that they are known to create the “Sardonic smile” (a bitter or scornful smile) on the faces of the unfortunate people that come in contact with it.

The toxin compounds within the plant are known to induce a facial paralysis that result in contortion of the facial muscles, thereby creating a sinister smile. This plant was used for the ritual killing of elderly people who were unable to support themselves in the pre-Roman Sardinia era.(source)

14. A plant with the name “Selaginella lepidophylla” or “Dinosaur Plant” has an amazing ability by which it can survive in dry weather. It curls up in a ball and later can be restored using a little water

Dinosaur Plant (selaginella lepidophylla)
Image source: giphy

The “Dinosaur Plant” or “Resurrection Plant” (Selaginella lepidophylla) is found from Texas and Arizona, and as far south as El Salvador. and is a desert inhabitant. The most fascinating ability of this plant is how it survives the extremely harsh conditions of its chosen habitat. When the soil is only a little moist after the infrequent rains, the Resurrection plant absorbs water and grows rapidly, producing a flat rosette of scaly stems up to one foot across.

As the soil dries, it cannot store water like its succulent neighbors, so it folds up its stems into a tight ball and stays dormant in this way. When the rain pours down again, the plant cells re-hydrate themselves and the plant spreads out and starts to grow.(source)

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13. There is a plant in Australia known as the “Suicide Plant” because the effect of its sting can last for years, and its pain is so unbearable that people have killed themselves after touching it.

Suicide plant of Australia
Image source: Cgoodwin via wikimedia

A plant which is found in the rainforest areas of north-eastern Australia, the Moluccas and Indonesia has been nicknamed the “Suicide Plant” of Australia, or Gympie-Gympie in the native language. It is considered to be one of the most venomous plants in the world. with the exception of its roots, every single part of the tree – its heart-shaped leaves, its stem and its pink/purple fruit – is covered with tiny, stinging hairs shaped like hypodermic needles. After gently touching the plant, the hair penetrates into the body and releases a painful toxin called Moroidin.

Victims claim the first thing that is felt was an intense pain after which their joints began to ache, and swelling occurred under the armpits. These symptoms can be almost as painful as the original sting. The excruciating pain can last several months and reoccurs for years. The people who have felt this pain have committed suicide in order to relieve themselves from the agony.(source)

12. A plant called “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue”, or “Dumb Cane”, has sap that is so toxic that it can paralyze your vocal chords.

Dieffenbachia
Image source: Jerzy Opioła via wikimedia

A plant named “Mother-In-Law’s Tongue, or Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia), is widely used as an ornamental plant in houses. The name “Dumb Cane” is attributed to its toxic sap which is highly poisonous. When ingested can cause the tongue to swell and can paralyze the vocal cords, taking away your voice. This plant has the same effect on dogs and cats. The Dieffenbachia has the ability to grow quickly, and therefore needs to be re-potted from time to time – so beware!(source)

11. A doctor in Vancouver was successfully treating many addicts by using Ayahuasca (Amazonian Hallucinogen Tea) until the Health Canada threatened him with arrest if he did not immediately stop these treatments.

Ayahuasca
Image credits: Gabor Gastonyi and Awkipuma via wikimedia

A Vancouver doctor named Dr. Gabor Maté has been using Ayahuasca (Amazonian Hallucinogenic Tea) to treat patients with various addictions. He has helped up to 150 patients in over the span of two years. Ayahuasca is a psychedelic drink derived from a woody vine that grows in the Amazon basin which acts on the centers of the brain responsible for emotional memory and insight. When taken by addicts, this drink helps them remember traumatic events, many from their childhood, that led to their addictions in the first place. Addicts can then reprocess the memories with the insight of an adult. One requirement claimed, however, is the tea must be taken in a ceremony led by someone trained in “shaman” traditions.

Health Canada, in 2011, ordered the doctor to stop this practice or face criminal prosecution since there are strict protocols that must be followed and approvals must be granted for restricted drugs.(source)

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