It should come as no surprise that, in the Amazon Rainforest, you can find many exotic species of venomous animals and poisonous plants. They are all incredibly fascinating in their own right and are actually some of the most beautiful flora and fauna you’ll see, but that’s nature’s trick to help lure unsuspecting victims in.
Here we take a look at the most poisonous plants in the Amazon rainforest, so you know what flora to look out for when trekking through the jungle.
Strychnos is a genus of flowing plants that are infamously poisonous. The plant is found in the Amazon jungle and it is often used in creating poisonous arrows that kill through contact with blood and asphyxiation. The plant itself has a very unpleasant scent, green oval leaves, and a red fruit that is the size of an apple.
The South American Curare vine is native to the Amazon basin. The vine can climb up to 30 meters high and 4 inches thick at its base. The underside of the vine’s heart-shaped leaves has a soft and silky texture. The plant is commonly called “Velvet Leaf.” Similar to Strychnos plants, the vine is used to create poisonous arrows.
In the Amazon rainforest, the Brugmansia flower is used by shamans and medicine men to treat various issues by applying the medicinal plant directly onto the skin. The flowers are produced hallucinations that shamans use to predict disease and other misfortunes. The plant’s poison comes from the alkaloids found in the flower, and in large amounts can be deadly to a human.
Not so much danger to humans but Carpenter ants should watch out for this one. In 2011 researchers identified four species of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis or “zombie-ant” fungus in the Brazilian Amazon that each targets a different variety of Carpenter ant. The ants become infected with the fungus when spores land on or become stuck to them. The spores then use enzymes to get inside the ant’s body where the fungus begins to grow inside of them!
The chemicals released by the fungus cause the ant to behave like a zombie, and within a week wander off to places where the conditions are suspiciously ideal for growing mushrooms, and then bite on to leaves before dying. The fungus then slowly sprouts from the ant’s head and grows a pod of spores which are fired onto the forest floor at night, to repeat the cycle and infect other passing ants.
Now that you know your poisonous Amazonian plants, you can safely view them from afar on your Amazon vacation. Contact us for more information.
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