The Cerbera odollam plant grows in abundance across certain regions of Asia. While it looks pretty standard at first glance, its seeds are actually deadly to humans.
It’s estimated that one person per week takes their own life with these seeds in India. In fact, researchers believe that they’re linked to more suicides than any other poisonous plant in the world.
What makes the Cerbera odollam fruit so deadly is a compound contained in the seeds.
They contain toxins that alter how the heart operates. Cerberin (a digoxin-like cardenolide) and cardiac glycoside cause the heart to beat irregularly, which usually leads to death.
It is almost impossible to find traces of these toxic compounds in autopsies, so coroners often have a hard time determining a cause of death when this plant is involved.
It is believed to be the cause of thousands of suicides and murders.
Some people eat the seeds by mistake, while others have nefarious intentions. Because it’s so hard to find traces of these chemicals, plenty of murderers make the seeds their weapons of choice.
They’re also easily available to anyone who wants them.
In India and other regions of Asia, the prevalence of the so-called “suicide tree” is astounding. This sadly means that the seeds are readily available for purchase. Recently, a 22-year-old in America purchased the seeds for just over $5.
This heartbreaking story out of Calumet City, Illinois, sheds light on the fact that the poisonous pods are available for purchase online. People around the world buy them when they want to commit suicide.
Be on the lookout for these trees if you plan on visiting Asia. If you’re not careful, things could turn deadly.