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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Saturday 4th February 2012

Timing is everything.

I thought I’d set myself an easy task today and make a photo tour of the garden to see how the spring plants like Galanthus nivalis (snowdrops), Narcissus (daffodils) and Helleborus (hellebores) are getting on and, also, to see if there’s any sign of new growth on things like the Solanum dulcamara (woody nightshade) and Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade).

The problem was that, by the time I got around to getting the camera out, this had happened;

Snow covering the garden

I’ve only got myself to blame because yesterday’s weather forecast was absolutely spot on about when the snow would start. And, though there is still a very little falling, it appears to have been right about when it would begin moving away.

So, confined to the house, I thought I’d get some pictures of my Mandragora officinarum, mandrake, to see how it is progressing.

It is certainly looking pretty healthy

Mandragora officinarum, mandrake 

And seems to have an abundance of flowers

Mandragora officinarum, mandrake 

In fact, I went back into my archives to make a comparison with last year. It seems I didn’t take any stills, but this screen cap from a video made in February 2011 shows how much more abundant the flowering is this year.

Mandragora officinarum, mandrake 

Mandragora officinarum is an hermaphrodite and the books say it is pollinated by insects. I’m not naïve enough to imagine that my sunroom is an insect free zone but I think I might see if I can take on the role of pollinator because I really think there’s a chance of getting it to fruit this year.

As this close up shows...

Mandragora officinarum, mandrake 

...the flowers aren’t fully open, yet.

This picture from March 2007, suggests I’ll have to wait a while for the flowers to be ready

Mandragora officinarum, mandrake 

If the snow clears in time for our Monday walk there’s a couple of very good gardeners in the group who might be able to offer some advice. Mind you, there are also a couple of other walkers who will look askance when they hear I’m trying to get a good crop from a supposed aphrodisiac.