THE POISON GARDEN website      Arum maculatum berries on a Cannabis leaf 

Search thepoisongarden.co.uk:

This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Tuesday 6th March 2012

All bar one of my talks are edited down from having too much material to fit the required time slot so it is quite a change to deliver, as I did this evening, the one that had to be grown from something smaller.

When I was asked to give a twenty minute after dinner talk, a couple of years ago, I decided to focus on plants found in the local area as a way of confining the potential length. The initial working title of ‘Poisonous Plants in Berwickshire’ became ‘Some Poisonous plants in Berwickshire’ when I realised that trying to cover all of them would take much longer than twenty minutes.

Amanita muscaria, fly agaric

Amanita muscaria, fly agaric

When I decided to use the opportunity to include Amanita muscaria, fly agaric, since I had found some growing not many miles from here I added ‘plus’ to the title because, of course, the Amanita is a fungus not a plant.

I stayed within the twenty minute constraint on that occasion but soon started getting requests to cover the same subject but in a forty-five minute format and that gave me the rare chance to add material to a talk rather than keep having to cut things out.

‘Some Poisonous Plants in Berwickshire Plus’ is, as a result, quite a relaxed talk where I can add extra stories if the audience seems to be interested in a particular plant and include new stories to keep it fresh.

This evening, for example, when talking about Taxus baccata, yew, I mentioned the reference to it on Sunday’s BBC1 programme, ‘Countryfile’, that I might blog about on another occasion, and, also, the Bristol daffodil poisonings that I have already blogged about.

As always, there was general surprise at the stories of people eating daffodil bulbs instead of onions but, as has happened before, after the talk I heard a new story of just such an event. The incident occurred to the husband of the organiser of the group when he was a young boy. His wife explained that her future in-laws ran a butcher’s shop and, because they were both busy for long hours in the shop, employed a woman to keep the house clean for them.

Hyoscyamus niger, black henbane

Hyoscyamus niger, black henbane

One day, both were suffering from flu and asked the cleaning lady if she would cook for them. As so often with these sorts of incidents, she went down to the shed to get some onions and took daffodil bulbs instead resulting in the misery of the flu being augmented by severe stomach upsets.

The woman continued to work for the family for many years but was never asked to prepare any food again and the story of her error entered the family folklore.

As well as the more relaxed structure of this talk I like it because I allow myself to include an anecdote that I have never been able to substantiate but that is said to have occurred in Berwickshire.

Hyoscyamus niger, black henbane, is a relative of Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade, but with greater hallucinogenic properties. Like many of the plants containing tropane alkaloids, it is sometimes said to impart a red colour to the vision. This colour distortion is credited with making some of the hallucinations experienced gory with the red colour becoming blood.

The story I’d love to track down but doubt if I ever will concerns four women who travelled into the country to collect flowers to decorate their church. They found a patch of Hyoscyamus niger and, not recognising the plant, all handled it extensively as they cut its uniquely beautiful flowers.

On the drive back to town, the story goes, they were all seeing red but it was the driver who saw a red elephant step out into the road in front of them. Swerving to avoid it, she drove into a ditch and all four, though only slightly hurt, ended up at A & E trying to explain the circumstances. 

 

Full Entries

2016

Tuesday 25th October 2016
Saturday 20th August 2016
Sunday 6th March 2016
Wednesday 3rd February 2016

2015

Saturday 28th November 2015
Friday 27th November 2015
Monday 17th August 2015
Wednesday 15th July 2015
Friday 26th June 2015
Thursday 25th June 2015
Thursday 30th April 2015
Wednesday 29th April 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Tuesday 3rd March 2015
Saturday 28th February 2015
Sunday 22nd February 2015

November 2014

Monday 24th November 2014
Saturday 8th November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

Wednesday 24th September 2014
Monday 1st September 2014

August 2014

Tuesday 26th August 2014
Saturday 16th August 2014
Tuesday 5th August 2014
Friday 1st August 2014

July 2014

Sunday 27th July 2014
Wednesday 23rd July 2014
Sunday 13th July 2014
Sunday 6th July 2014
Tuesday 1st July 2014

June 2014

Wednesday 25th June 2014
Tuesday 24th June 2014
Sunday 22nd June 2014
Monday 9th June 2014
Wednesday 4th June 2014

May 2014

Monday 26th May 2014
Sunday 18th May 2014
Wednesday 14th May 2014

April 2014

Sunday 13th April 2014
Saturday 5th April 2014
Thursday 3rd April 2014
Tuesday 1st April 2014

March 2014

Monday 31st March 2014
Tuesday 25th March 2014
Friday 21st March 2014
Monday 17th March 2014
Sunday 16th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Thursday 6th March 2014
Wednesday 5th March 2014
Saturday 1st March 2014

February 2014

Thursday 27th February 2014
Monday 24th February 2014
Wednesday 19th February 2014
Monday 17th February 2014
Thursday 13th February 2014
Monday 4th February 2014
Monday 3rd February 2014
Saturday 1st February 2014

January 2014

Thursday 28th January 2014
Thursday 23rd January 2014
Friday 17th January 2014
Wednesday 15th January 2014
Monday 13th January 2014
Thursday 9th January 2014
Tuesday 7th January 2014
Wednesday 1st January 2014

December 2013

Monday 23rd December 2013
Friday 20th December 2013
Tuesday 17th December 2013
Friday 14th December 2013
Thursday 12th December 2013
Sunday 8th December 2013
Wednesday 4th December 2013
Sunday 1st December 2013

November 2013

Friday 29th November 2013
Wednesday 27th November 2013
Tuesday 26th November 2013
Friday 22nd November 2013
Monday 18th November 2013
Friday 15th November 2013
Thursday 14th November 2013
Sunday 10th November 2013
Thursday 7th November 2013
Wednesday 6th November 2013
Friday 1st November 2013

October 2013

Thursday 31st October 2013
Sunday 27th October 2013
Wednesday 23rd October 2013
Monday 21st October 2013
Friday 18th October 2013
Friday 11th October 2013
Wednesday 9th October 2013
Tuesday 8th October 2013
Monday 7th October 2013
Tuesday 1st October 2013

September 2013

Monday 30th September 2013
Saturday 28th September 2013
Friday 27th September 2013
Monday 23rd September 2013
Sunday 15th September 2013
Monday 9th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

August 2013

Sunday 8th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

Tuesday 27th August 2013
Sunday 25th August 2013
Monday 19th August 2013
Friday 16th August 2013
Tuesday 13th August 2013
Friday 9th August 2013
Friday 2nd August 2013
Thursday 1st August 2013

July 2013

Saturday 27th July 2013
Sunday 21st July 2013
Wednesday 17th July 2013
Monday 15th July 2013
Saturday 13th July 2013
Friday 12th July 2013
Thursday 11th July 2013
Wednesday 10th July 2013
Tuesday 9th July 2013
Saturday 6th July 2013

June 2013

Friday 28th June 2013
Tuesday 25th June 2013
Friday 21st June 2013
Thursday 20th June 2013
Wednesday 19th June 2013
Saturday 15th June 2013
Sunday 9th June 2013
Saturday 8th June 2013
Saturday 1st June 2013
 

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012 blog

June 2012 blog

May 2012 blog

April 2012 blog

March 2012 blog

February 2012 blog

January 2012 blog

December 2011 blog

November 2011 blog

October 2011 blog

September 2011 blog

August 2011 blog

July 2011 blog

June 2011 blog



IMPORTANT NOTE

The POISON GARDEN website is not connected with Alnwick Garden Enterprises Ltd and/or The Alnwick Garden Trust.