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.

Sunday 13th May 2012

I said, on Friday, that I would have a look at the most recent appearances of Laburnum in the British Newspapers Archive to see if I could detect a change in the reporting of any poisoning incidents from the early 19th century.

Immediately, I came across a problem that I’ve had in other circumstances but, it seems to me, to adopt the cliché, that this problem was really an opportunity to look at attitudes to this tree.

Laburnum

I’ve mentioned many times that I use Google Alerts to lead me to stories about interesting items. Laburnum is one of the most popular search terms used by people who, as a result, become visitors to this site so it seemed obvious to create an alert for that word.

Unfortunately, though it produces plenty of results, they are almost all real estate sites offering properties in Laburnum Crescent or Laburnum Avenue or similar. It seems that all those references to the presence of Laburnum in 19th century adverts for property for sale or to let have turned into a strong tendency to name residential areas after the tree as a means of suggesting that this is somewhere pleasant to live.

My Google Alert for Laburnum is, as a result, almost useless.

The newspaper archive, however, allows advertisements to be excluded so the results refer only to news stories. Of course, it could be a news story that a resident of Laburnum Drive suffered a car crash or the like but it does narrow the field a little.

Before turning to the stories I found, I must divert your attention, as mine was, with a couple of the other stories I noticed on the same page. I could claim that they help to add context to what I’m about to write about the Laburnum but, the truth is, I just found them to be beacons of how much society and attitudes have changed since the end of World War II.

Laburnum

The first was a 1949 report, from Bath, about the visit of a Kenyan police officer for training with the Somerset Constabulary. The item was deemed newsworthy because of the strangeness of seeing a black man in police uniform. The second item was also about prejudice but, this time, a strangely reversed gender prejudice. This was the news the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons was limiting the number of women being allowed onto its training courses because they were taking places that should go to men. It was claimed that this quota system, what today would be called ‘positive discrimination’, was necessary to keep the number of women at 30, out of 400 places, instead of 280 if no cap were applied.

The Laburnum story from that page was a follow-up to an earlier report of poisoning amongst a group of under-fives who became ‘very ill’ after getting access to seedpods growing in a place called Rosemary Lodge. There was a gender element to the story because the local Medical Officer of Health was quoted as saying that one of the boys had accused one of the girls of enticing them all to eat the seeds. ‘Adam blamed Eve’ was the phrase used.

Though this incident didn’t seem to be very different from those reported over one hundred years earlier, there was part of it that, I believe, would not happen today, just sixty or so years later.

The story said that it had been decided to remove the pods, each year, as soon as they formed rather than remove such attractive and useful, in terms of offering shade, trees from the grounds completely. It is hard to believe that, in our modern, risk averse world, those trees would have survived one day after the poisoning. 

It does seem that we've gone from valuing the beauty of Laburnum so much that we name streets after it to being irrationally scared of it.

Follow @thepoisongarden on Twitter

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

August 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 2013April 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.