The following information was compiled from various sources including books, websites, and other publications. There are many different types of potatoes. Some varieties have been bred to produce larger tubers while others grow smaller stalks or no stalks at all. However, there are only two kinds of potatoes that can cause death when eaten raw: Solanum tuberosum (potato) and Solanum japonicum (Japanese radish). Both of these plants contain toxins called solanine alkaloids. Potatoes and radishes both belong to the family Solanaceae, which includes over 1,000 species.
Potato Stalk Poisoning – The most common form of poisoning caused by eating potatoes is due to the presence of solanine alkaloids found in potatoes. These toxic compounds are known collectively as solanines. They include solanezidine, solazepam, and thiomorpholine. All three of these substances are classified as sedative-hypnotics.
Solanine alkaloid toxicity occurs when someone eats potatoes containing high levels of solanine alkaloids. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness and fatigue. Severe symptoms may occur if the person consumes large amounts of potatoes or eats them with alcohol or drugs such as marijuana. Death may occasionally occur.
A specific gene, called the SLT gene, allows some individuals to process solanine alkaloids without exhibiting any symptoms of poisoning. Other individuals lack this gene which can lead to adverse reaction to poisonous foods, such as potatoes.
Potatoes are rich in nutrients and are not considered dangerous when cooked properly. They have high levels of complex carbohydrates, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Frying, baking, boiling, and most other cooking methods destroy the solanine alkaloids.
Jasmine Nightshade – Jasmine nightshade is a plant native to North and South America that bears a fruit which contains highly toxic substances. This plant is sometimes mistaken for tomatoes, its close relative. It is found in Africa, New Zealand, Australia, South America, and North America. It is commonly misidentified as a tomato plant.
In some areas the fruit of this plant is eaten by humans and livestock. However, when the unripe or green fruit is consumed it can cause severe illness or death due to cardiac glycoside toxicity. In some cases, the ripe fruit has been known to cause illness or death.
Tomato vines often grow in close proximity to jasmine nightshade vines. The leaves of the two vines are similar in appearance. Leaves of the jasmine nightshade vine may be slightly larger.
The fruits of the two plants are also quite similar in appearance. They can easily be mistaken for one another if someone is not familiar with their appearance. Jasmine nightshade fruit is smaller but grows in clusters, while tomato fruit grows individually or in pairs.
It is important to remember that the ripe fruit of a jasmine nightshade plant is not poisonous. It only becomes toxic when the fruit is unripe or green in color.
It is also important to remember that there are several other toxic plants that resemble the jasmine nightshade plant. It is often confused with plants such as the hog peanut, horse nettle, and even the Chinese lantern plant.
Since the ripe fruit of a jasmine nightshade plant is not poisonous, it has been used in South American cuisine. It is often used to flavor meats or stews. It has a flavor similar to a tomato or a ripe squash.
This plant is native of the New World and was spread by the Spanish throughout the Caribbean and into the southern United States. It was first described by a French botanist in 1730.
Jimson Weed – The jimson weed is found growing wild in Central and South America, but it has also been introduced into many parts of North America. It is a branching annual, usually growing up to three feet tall.
The leaves are opposite and heart shaped, with a bit of a reddish hue. The plant produces bright purple flowers that are up to 2 inches across. The jimson weed is easily identified by its trumpet shaped flowers.
The jimson weed gets its name from Jamestown, Virginia, where it was first discovered growing in the early 1600’s. It is also known as stinkweed and devil’s eyelashes.
The ripe seedpods are a striking shade of red, which is one way to spot them growing wild during the summer months. The leaves and stems can also be eaten when cooked. However, the whole plant is poisonous to ingest, as it contains toxic levels of alkaloids, including scopolamine and atropine. These toxins can cause hallucinations, delirium, and even comas.
During the American Civil War, the jimson weed was known as a battlefield remedy, given to wounded soldiers. The plant contains sedative qualities and can help with sleep deprivation. It is also used medicinally to treat gastrointestinal illnesses such as diarrhea. In South America, an extract of the jimson weed is used for eye drops to dilate the pupils.
The ripe seedpods are extremely toxic.
Sources & references used in this article:
„THE SAGE‟–NOVEMBER 2009 by SBNOWON SALE – SAGE, 2009 – vcut.org
Livestock-poisoning plants of California by L Forero, G Nader – 2011 – books.google.com
„THE SAGE‟–JANUARY 2010 by JS HOURS – SAGE, 2010 – kleinsfloral.com
Guerrilla gardening: a manualfesto by D Tracey – 2007 – books.google.com
„THE SAGE‟–MAY 2009 by MAYS HOURS – SAGE, 2009 – kleinsfloral.com