Colchicine-Molecule Monday
A Poison Lurking in the Forest?

Picking wild mushrooms is a past time that requires caution. Many poisonous varieties resemble edible ones and getting it wrong can kill you.

The same warning can be applied to wild garlic. Picking a plant that looks the same can give you a nasty surprise. Instead of a tasty treat, you could end up with a toxic dose of colchicine.

What is Colchicine?

Colchicine can be found in plants such as the autumn crocus which looks very similar to wild garlic. This compound, when ingested in large enough quantities, can kill. As you can see in the infographic below, the leaves of these various plants are very similar.

Fortunately, there is a relatively simple way to distinguish these plants.  True wild garlic has various sulfur containing compounds which have distinctive odors lacking in the “mimics”.

For the chemistry minded, you can view or build all the compounds shown in the infographic below using our 3D Molecular Model Builder. The only exception to this is the compound isoalliin which it does not recognize.  When entering methyl allyl thiosulfinate, be sure to use the correct syntax, which does not include hyphens.

Colchicine & other compounds.
Chemicals found in wild garlic as well as poisons in similar forest plants. Infographic courtesy of Andy Brunning of Compound Interest. His site is www.compoundchem.com

Colchicine Molecular Mobile

Click on the video below to see the molecular model image in stereo as it spins.  You can suspend this from the ceiling as a novel mobile.

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