Facebook group blooms sharing poison plant pointers

Image courtesy of คนเมืองแป้ / Thailandsurvival Facebook page

A Facebook group dedicated to identifying poisonous plants and trees has become an online sensation, amassing more than 250,000 members. The group’s popularity surged when a young man posted a picture of a leaf with the caption, “What is this plant? Touched it and it’s very itchy.”

The image captured a beautiful green leaf with sharp hairs on both sides, sparking a flurry of comments and nearly 300 shares. Members of the group offered various pieces of advice and shared stories related to the plant’s effects.

One comment recounted a historical tale from the town of Chumphon, where during the nine-army war, one Burmese troop went through Ranong to Chumphon and stumbled upon a forest full of these plants.

The soldiers, planning to camp near a river, suffered from severe itching after contact with the leaves. The condition worsened with water contact, and eventually, they succumbed to the plant’s toxins by the riverside, which led to the area being named Sunbathing Beach.

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Other comments warned not to wash the affected area with water as it could intensify the reaction, while some shared personal experiences of excruciating pain and the need for immediate medical attention to avoid serious infections and potential blood poisoning.

The plant in question was identified as ช้างร้อง (Crying Elephant), a species known for its deceptive beauty and hidden danger.

Potent poison

The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation previously posted about the plant’s toxicity, explaining that its small, numerous needles beneath the leaves contain potent poison.

The department cautioned against touching the plant, especially during its blooming period, as it can cause severe allergic reactions and potentially be fatal.

Historical references to the plant were also cited, including an excerpt from Nithan Boran Khadi by Somdet Phra Phan Wassa Ayutthaya, who described an encounter with the toxic leaves during a royal inspection of a mountain pass.

He detailed the plant’s appearance and recounted local stories, including one where Burmese soldiers perished after using the leaves as bedding, giving rise to the name Beach where the Burmese died.

Additionally, the text mentioned how some locals claimed the leaves, once stripped of their poisonous hairs, could be consumed with chilli paste or in curry, a practice not verified by the writer.

The story of the Crying Elephant plant captivated social media users, reminding them of the risks posed by nature’s beauty and the importance of respecting and understanding the wild.

It served as a lesson in both the power of communal knowledge and the enduring tales of history that intertwine with the natural world, as reported by Sanook.

Thailand News

Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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