BRITAIN'S countryside is undeniably beautiful.

However hidden among the wondrous colours of the British summertime are a few hidden dangers.

While few and far between, these islands are home to several poisonous species which are best to avoid.

As you prepare to venture out for summer it is worth keeping an eye open for any of these plants and species which could cause illness.


Monkshood. Picture by Bernd Haynold/Wiki.

Monkshood. Picture by Bernd Haynold/Wiki.

Monkshood is perhaps the most poisonous plant that grows natively.

This is instantly recognisable due to its purple hanging flowers, in the shape of a monk's habit but do not be fooled by its innocent appearance as both touching the leaves and eating them can lead to severe and possibly fatal poisonings.

The poison is so strong in this plant that dipping an arrow head in it will guarantee death to anything it hits, and quickly, this is where it got is nickname of 'wolves bane' as it was used on arrowheads to hunt wolves to ensure they died.

Destroying Angel

The Destroying Angel. Picture by Rafti Institute/Wiki.

The Destroying Angel. Picture by Rafti Institute/Wiki.

This pure white mushroom is responsible for over 95 per cent of all mushroom related deaths in the UK, and is the second most poisonous mushroom in the country.

The unlucky forager who eats it wont feel anything for up to a whole day after consumption, but then stomach pains and body cramps start, accompanied by vomiting, diarrhoea and delirium.

The cause of death is ultimately the combined shutdown of the kidneys and liver, but there is a cure if treated soon enough after eating.

The False Widow Spider

The False Widow spider. Picture by Alvesgaspar/Wiki.

The False Widow spider. Picture by Alvesgaspar/Wiki.

Known in the United Kingdom as the noble false widow and is often referred to as the false widow.

As the common name indicates, the spider superficially resembles and is frequently confused for the black widow and other spiders.

The species has has a reputation as one of the few native spider species that is capable of inflicting a painful bite to humans.


Hemlock. Picture by Conium/Wiki.

Hemlock. Picture by Conium/Wiki.

This plant comes in two forms, regular Hemlock and water Hemlock which has a stronger version of the poison. This plant is that its very common throughout the entire country and grows in any kind of area.

The poison in Hemlock is called cicutoxin, and when introduced into the body causes extreme stomach upsets and if taken in large amounts, paralysis of the lungs.

The famous Greek philosopher Socrates was killed by being poisoned with Hemlock, apparently in the form of a tea made from its flowers.

If taken in small amounts it will cause sickness and vomiting, but the poison can leave the body on its own over time if a small enough amount was consumed.

Common European adder

The European adder. Picture by Benny Trapp/Wiki.

The European adder. Picture by Benny Trapp/Wiki.

The species is also the only venomous snake native to Great Britain.

Known by a host of common names including common adder and common viper, adders have been the subject of much folklore in Britain and other European countries.

They are not regarded as especially dangerous and the snake is not aggressive and usually bites only when really provoked, stepped on, or picked up. Bites can be very painful, but are seldom fatal.

It feeds on small mammals, birds, lizards, and amphibians, and in some cases on spiders, worms, and insects.


Nightshade. Picture by Kurt Sturmier/Wiki.

Nightshade. Picture by Kurt Sturmier/Wiki.

Simply touching the leaves can cause irritating rashes and even sickness.

The reason so many people have died from this plant in comparison to others is due to how tasty the berries look. They can grow to the size of cherries, are a shiny deep purple colour and the most poisonous part and always the part that’s eaten causing death.

Deadly nightshade contains the toxins atropine and scopolamine throughout the entire plant. These toxins can cause paralysis to organs in the body and stop them from functioning, such as the heart.

In 1600’s colonial America, this plant was used to make a medicine to slow the heart and help people rest.