Sure they may look harmless, but in the hands of the right people, a plant can be just as deadly as a shotgun. Plants have been an integral part in weapons manufacturing and advancements for thousands of years.
1. Arrows and Darts
First of all, it is worth noting that these weapons all originate from plants:
All of the above are all derived from the ash, elm and other species of tree. However, assuming that bats, clubs and other wooden objects are too easy, let’s examine how these plant-weapons are enhanced using other plants.
Arrows found dating back to thousands of years ago were found to have grooves cut in the tips with trace elements of such poisons as tubocurarine and curare. These poisons derived from plants act as a paralytic, adding asphyxiation to the arrow or dart wound. Though it sounds dangerous to be used in hunting, cooking the meat renders the poison ineffective, and therefore there are no chances of second hand exposure.
Not only do we have the Egyptians to thank for paper, sandals and Brendan Fraser’s career, but we also can thank them for much of the knowledge of poisons we have today.
It is widely believed that the Egyptians were responsible for discovering the poisonous properties of arsenic, henbane and strychnine long before modern medicine existed. Their experimentation with distillation, fermentation, and eating things that might have been poison single-handedly gave us most of the information we have today about naturally occurring poisons.Whether they were using the seeds, leaves or roots of plants, the Egyptians discovered many a way to weaponize flowers.
3. Barbed Wire
Although stronger, more flexible versions have been created and implemented since, the first roll of barbed wire was actually a plant.
The Scottish Thistle is a thorny little cactus flower that possesses hundreds of sharp edges and barbs. This plant is responsible for saving Scotland from a sneak attack by Norsemen during the 13th century. Because the Norse were barefoot, their cries of pain from stepping on the thistle alerted the Scottish of their invasion and thereby thwarted their plan. The Scottish thistle is still honored and held in high regard by the people and government of Scotland.
4. Biological Weapons
Biological weapons are perhaps the most disturbing and least ethical of all instruments of war, but what many people don’t know is that not all toxins are created in laboratories.
Cytotoxons and mycotoxins, like ricin from the castor bean and various types of fungi, all have serious nerve disrupting properties. Although much more damaging chemical weapons such as Anthrax has been developed, the amount of raw “mess-you-up” power that occurs in nature is still astonishing. While most often these sorts of biological weapons are used in crop dusting and pesticide application, they are still capable of bringing about damage in a war.
5. Curry bomb
It was only a matter of time before Indian food was utilized for its destructive power, and that is precisely what the curry bomb does. An 88-mm grenade filled with phosphorous, red hot chilies and pepper, this bomb can bring victims to their knees in seconds.
Designed specifically for smoking terrorists out of caves and other hiding places, the curry bomb creates a smoke screen of intense, eye watering, debilitating chili powder in as little as 5 seconds. This technology can be tank-mounted or hand-held, and is sure to be the single most contributing factor to a decrease in terrorism and an increase in awful action movie lines.
Stick with me here. Although it is mostly a product of chemistry, gunpowder (and therefore every firearm, rocket launch and nuclear bomb since) can be attributed directly to plants.
Created by the Chinese over a thousand years ago, gunpowder’s active and most powerful ingredient is potassium nitrate. By mixing straw (plant), wood ashes (burned plant), and manure (used to be a plant) into a hole and letting the mixture sit and get all scientific on itself for a year, the remaining by product is the incredibly flammable potassium nitrate. Although the involvement of the plant in the average gun battle seems inconsequential, it is in fact rather vital.
Plants have been used for evil since the dawn of time. While they are pretty to look at, lovely to smell, and an excellent get-out-jail-free card for married men around the globe, never underestimate the raw stopping power that lurks just beneath the surface of the average plant.