BSCI 124 Lecture Notes

Undergraduate Program in Plant Biology, University of Maryland


I. How a plant compound can affect humans and animals

II. Reason plants contain poisonous or potentially poisonous compounds

III. Types of compounds and plants

Take home lessons:

  1. Plants have effective chemical defenses mechanisms specifically designed to make you leave them alone.
  2. Many household plants are very poisonous
  3. Poisons are present in food plants
  4. 99% of carcinogens in food are in there naturally, not what we spray on them
  5. Just a matter of location (what part of plant we eat) and certain times (ripe vs. unripe) that makes them edible
  6. By avoiding a diet focusing on one food will reduce the level of any one toxin

Other sites of interest:
Major summary
Review: See section on plant defenses
Important WWW Plant Poison sites
Poisonous Plants Database at the University of Maryland
Canadian Poisonous Plant Information System
Guide to poisonous Plants
Illustrations of Poisons Plants from Cornell University
Allergies Drug Information
AllerDays Allergy Resource Center

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Last revised: October 19, 1998, Straney