Fear Of Plants

The fear of plants is known as Botanophobia. While plants are an essential part of world, providing many benefits to human beings, there are also plants that are very harmful to people and animals.

Why Fear Plants?

Usually, people who fear plants know something about their more harmful properties. After all, plant essences are often used in medicines, and we all know that medicines can be helpful or harmful. The surfaces of plants can also cause rashes, both mild and serious. Plants like poison ivy are just one example…

Plants Can Kill…

Many poisons are are manufactured using plants – strychnine is another example of a well-known, very dangerous toxin that comes from botanicals. In this case, the strychnine tree produces seeds that can kill a human being. In the course of history, notables such as Cleopatra utilized the deadly seeds to punish and execute their enemies.

Some Plants Seem Sinister

The Venus Flytrap is another plant with a bad reputation. This plant is carnivorous – it actually catches insects within its leaves and digests them.
This plant belongs to a small group of flora which are capable of quick movements that allow them to capture and immobilize their prey – usually insects and spiders.

The castor oil plant contains an extremely dangerous toxin, known as ricin. Ricin. Once ingested, a human being will likely die from ricin poisoning within two to four days. The American military once experimented with ricin, for possible use in espionage and warfare.

The poison has also been used as a murder weapon, in pellet form, most notably by a murderer who killed a Bulgarian journalist, Georgi Markov, in 1987. In a homicidal plan straight out of a John Le Carre novel, an umbrella was planted with a poison pellet that was rigged to penetrate the journalist’s skin and kill him.

Nature May Be Avoided

People who fear plants such as those mentioned above are often unwilling to go on nature walks or otherwise expose themselves to the risk or rashes or poisoning. They may have had some bad experience with poison ivy or a similar plant in the past. Even animals can be poisoned by certain plants. If someone’s pet has been exposed to poisoning, the phobia may develop out of concern and worry over a pet.


Mass Media References

A popular film starring Drew Barrymore was also named after the toxic plant, poison ivy. This film featured Barrymore in the title role, as a young, blond Lolita type who is far more dangerous than she might appear.

In mass media, killer plants are used to name cartoon characters, such as Poison Ivy, from the Batman series. Uma Thurman portrayed Poison Ivy in one of the Batman films. To the left is a photo of a Poison Ivy action figure. Her beauty belies her madness, which came upon her after an unfortunate poisoning by herbs (by an enemy), which she survived.

People who suffer from Botanophobia may prefer to remain indoors, where they can control their environment. They will avoid gardens, forests, and other places where plants grow in profusion. They may take care to learn to identify all the myriad types of plants, especially those which are poisonous.

In this case, education about plant toxins and harmful effects may inspire fear and paranoia. People with this phobia may perceive harmless plants to be dangerous to them, because it can be difficult for even an expert to identify different species.


If the fear of plants gets in the way of a normal life, treatment will be a sensible option. A therapist can assist the person with Botanophobia to maintain perspective, and get a handle on their fears. Sometimes, medication or special alternative treatments can make a better life possible.

The fear of plants is also referred to as:

  • plant phobia
  • plant fear
  • phobia of plants
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