THE POISON GARDEN website      Arum maculatum berries on a Cannabis leaf 


This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Saturday 14th April 2012

I’m engaging in a little introspection today; thinking more about how I write than what I write. This comes about from the email correspondence I’ve had, in recent days with Professor Arthur Grollman, lead author of the research into Aristolochia that I’ve blogged about twice this week.

Without intentionally setting out to do so, Arthur has become something of a mentor for me in the way I write this blog and the rest of this website. I’m very grateful to him for the time he has spent politely steering me to telling my stories more precisely and, I hope, more clearly.

When I started this website, in 2008, my intention was to offer a general audience a little bit more information about poisonous plants than could be found elsewhere. Though that came from the number of visitors to the Alnwick Garden Poison Garden who said that the short tours left their curiosity unsatisfied and though I, initially at least, focussed on plants grown at Alnwick, my intention was always to try and have more universal appeal.

From the start, I had to think about how much additional information to make available by means of hyperlinks. I wanted to give people the chance to read further if they wished but I didn’t want to deter them by offering so many links and in such a formal style that they might be put off by the items appearing to ‘proper science’.

Also, and there is no false modesty in this, I didn’t want to appear more knowledgeable than I am by giving references just like a ‘real’ scientist. I thought that would be misleading. So, I opted for simple inline hyperlinking with a ‘ScreenTip’ to explain what clicking the link would achieve.

But, thanks to a subtle comment Arthur Grollman made when forwarding an interesting item to me1, I’ve realised that my attitude to hyperlinking may be out-dated. Anyone who has ever read an item on Wikipedia will be used to the way references are notated in the body of the text and listed at the end.

It’s worth saying that I am not a whole-hearted devotee of Wikipedia. I do, sometimes, look at articles there but I will always try and find other sources and those not just sites that have lifted Wikipedia text for their own use. In fairness, my attitude to Wikipedia may be as out-dated as my thoughts about hyperlinking because I have noticed an increasing number of articles carrying warnings about incomplete references, one sided arguments and other problems so it is clear that the organisation itself is aware of its limitations.

Still, I think I will try using a different means of linking to and citing references and see if I feel comfortable with it. I'll still give inline hyperlinks to pieces I think are directly relevant but I'll also add the full citation at the end as this makes it easier for authors to identify references to their work. Where I just want to acknowledge another piece, I'll just give a citation at the end.

Just to finish, since I mentioned Wikipedia though this time it is not at fault, I came across a piece of wrong information when writing my recent blog about Michelle Brooks’ call for Catha edulis, khat, to be banned. The Wikipedia page on khat says;

‘During a debate on the legality on the 11 January 2012, UK Member of Parliament for Milton Keynes Mark Lancaster, Conservative, stated importation of Khat into the UK stands at 10 tonnes every week.[53]

With reference [53] being ‘Hansard 11 Jan 2012. Hansard. 11 jan 2012. Retrieved 12 Jan 2012.’

As I blogged at the time, what Mr Lancaster said during the debate was that imports of khat amounted to 10 million tonnes a week. No-one in the chamber for the debate questioned this ridiculous number and it was only when I and others drew attention to it that Mr Lancaster asked the Hansard clerks to make the correction in the official version.

My understanding is that they should only do this if an MP can justify that the wrong comment was a slip of the tongue but, given that the same statement appeared on Mr Lancaster’s website, at the time, this was an error not a slip. Unfortunately, as the official record of what was said in Parliament, Hansard’s version of events may, in time, become the truth.


1Deadly Herbs. Fanatic Cook, April 2012  


Full Entries


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


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


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