BANEBERRY (ACTAEA SPECIES)
Baneberry includes two species of low woodland plants, common throughout Nova Scotian forests. The flowers and fruit are carried in clusters above multiple, divided leaves. Unwary children, in particular, may be attracted to the berries, which are either milky white or shiny red. Eating as few as six berries can cause dizziness and severe stomach upset.
Sap, flowers, seeds, and leaves of all members, with the greatest concentration of the toxin occurring in vigorous growth shoots. Dried plant material is usually harmless.
Buttercups and clematis: Glycoside, a severe skin irritant.
Monkshood, delphinium, marsh marigold, baneberry, and larkspur: Highly toxic alkaloids.
TYPICAL POISONING SCENARIO
Contact with and/or consumption of leaves or flowers by livestock or by children who are attracted by the often-showy flowers. In the case of buttercups and clematis, the strong, acrid taste deters further consumption, so fatalities are rare. The poisons in monkshood, delphinium, marsh marigold, baneberry, and larkspur, however, are very much more potent, so ingestion of a small quantity is dangerous.
Another possible cause of poisoning by this group of plants is the abuse of herbal medicines prepared from them. These medicines are almost never taken internally and even when used externally can cause skin irritation.
Buttercups and Clematis typically cause irritation and blistering of the skin if handled, and- if swallowed- intense burning of the mouth and digestive tract, followed by nausea and convulsions. Luckily, the stuff tastes so bad that victims rarely get to this state, but gardeners should be sure to wear gloves before weeding the buttercups or planting out clematis!
The Alkaloid In Monkshood, Delphiniums, Baneberry And Larkspur causes burning of the mouth and throat, confusion, dizziness, headaches and vomiting. In severe poisoning, breathing difficulty, then paralysis, are followed by convulsions and Death from asphyxiation and circulatory failure. However, most victims do recover within 24 hours.
BANEBERRY POISON INFORMATION
Glycosides are toxins in which at least one sugar molecule is linked with oxygen to another compound, often nitrogen-based. They become harmful when the sugar molecule is stripped off, as in the process of digestion.