Adenium poison, are there others?


Adeniums are reputed to be one of the top ten most poisonous plants on Earth. I know Euphorbias have bad sap, but I don't know how bad, and I grow few Euphorbias. I do have several hundred Adniums, and plan to begin selling them for the Christmas season.

I had a TERRIBLE experience with the poisonous effect possible with Adenium sap! I'm OK now.

Working with my plants for several long days, I got a lot of sap under my fingernails, and didn't wash my hands carefully, immediately. I noticed that I was feeling faint. I sat, and felt my heart skipping beats, 123-skip-12345-skip-12-skip. WOW!!!

I've read, and I googled, that the poison in Adenium is the same as digitalis, which works on heartbeat. I have suppliments and vitamins, so read which ones help the heart. I took more than the daily amounts, and finally after TWO WEEKS my heart beat became steady.

I no longer use my fingernails to pinch leaves or budding tips on my plants! Adenium is called 'medicinal' in some references, Medicinal can also be poisonous. Depends on preparation and dosage? I will never pinch them with my fingernails again. Think about trying to keep calm to go to sleep when you feel your heart doing that! wow I am so happy for my heart beat to be regular now.

Take extreme care with these wonderful plants!

Thumbnail by adeniumgrower
Delray Beach, FL(Zone 10a)


There are a boatload of plants that have dangerous sap, medicinal compounds and amazing toxins in them. I love it when someone tells me "It's good for you, it's natural". Arsenic is a natural product, and allegedly not so good for you. It is always a very good idea to use the internet to research the possible health hazards of each plant you own and learn how each plant can do you, your children and your pets in.

My first garden was named Alice In Wonderland On Acid. It was comprised of nothing but medicinal and poisonous plants. I enjoyed it very much. It was a niche for the not-faint-at-heart. I could often be found wearing a full face mask and 2 pairs rubber gloves when working with some of those nightmarish plants. But I enjoyed it. I fondly remember a specimen that produced sap that could cause 2nd degree burns on your skin. I treated that one with lots of respect. Research your all plants before you work with them. Of particular interest is a book: "Wicked plants" by Amy Stewart. I love that one. You'd be surprised what dangerous stuff grows out there. An informed gardener increases his/her chances of survival.

Be very careful out there. And leave that plant alone before you find out what nasty trick it's got in stock for you.

Baja California, Mexico(Zone 11)

From what I understand, several other members of the family that includes Adenium (Apocynaceae) are also poisonous. That would include Pachypodium in the succulent category. Now how much would probably vary from plant to plant, but it's a good idea to wear gloves and use tools when in doubt. I keep a small pair of nail scissors for nipping and snipping and they work quite well.

Euphorbias often produce a horribly irritating sap and it's a really bad idea to pinch them with your fingers, especially if your skin is broken. This seems to give them some advantage as succulents in extreme environments where herbivores would otherwise pose an existential threat. One of the toxins made by certain Euphorbias (resiniferatoxin) acts directly on pain receptors to max out the unpleasantness of the experience.

If you're passing these plants along, you may consider passing along the knowledge at the same time, so people are aware of the situation. These plants are fabulous, they just merit a certain amount of respect to be enjoyed the most.

A couple of thoughts about medicinal plants.... perhaps the most common succulent used this way is Aloe vera, and it's by far the most common aloe around here. What most people do not know is that there are other Aloe species which may actually be poisonous (and have been traditionally used this way, to poison animals). Fortunately they are rather uncommon in cultivation. The point is, a proper ID is sometimes the only way to know that any given medicinal plant will have beneficial effects.

Complicating things further, sometimes the very things that make a plant toxic may play a role (at really limited doses) medicinally. Here is an example of a Euphorbia which has found all sorts of uses in West Africa despite (or sometimes because of) being really poisonous. Hopefully this cached page works for you because the original server is down.

This message was edited Sep 4, 2015 6:38 PM

Mesa, AZ(Zone 9b)

Hi, I am very happy that you are OK and there were no permanent effects to your health.

The lesson learned here is to not work with these plants (or any plants) without suitable gloves or protective gear. Even if the plant is not poisonous, you could be allergic to the plant or a chemical in the plant and have an allergic reaction and in worst case go into anaphylactic shock.

Decatur, GA

Two weeks with an irregular heart beat is dangerous - high risk of stroke. Next time get medical help if it lasts more than 24 hours.

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