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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Saturday 19th November 2011

It’s hard to believe that, this time last year, we were less than a week away from the first snowstorm of what was to be a spell of bad weather lasting into January 2011. Although I can’t remember the exact weather conditions on 19th November 2010, I do know that the weather forecasters were already beginning to talk about snow.

This 19th November, the weather has been warm and dry with no wind continuing the pattern that seems to have run all through the month. If you’re familiar with Thomas Hood’s poem ‘November’ you’ll know that the last two lines are ‘No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, November!’ I don’t know if that is ever wholly true but it is very wrong this year.

Though most of my Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade, bushes have died back there are a few new young leaves next to dead ones.

Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade

I even found one new, green berry

Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade

And, even more surprising, one plump ripe berry.

Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade

And it is not just the deadly nightshade. This Digitalis purpurea, foxglove, should really have done with flowering a while ago.

Digitalis purpurea, foxglove

There are, of course, signs of winter being on the way. Just four days ago, my Nicotiana sylvestris, woodland tobacco, looked pretty much as you’d expect it to look in August.

Nicotiana sylvestris, woodland tobacco

But, today, the signs of death are very clear. So clear, in fact, that I removed the plants after taking this picture.

Nicotiana sylvestris, woodland tobacco

But even as things die or try and live on in the face of the inevitable, there are the first signs of the new season. This Helleborus, a hybrid whose name I’ve forgotten, is beginning to put up the new growth that will see it producing some of the first flowers of next year.


And, though too small to get a picture, the Narcissus, daffodils,, are starting to emerge. Though I agree with Thomas Hood about the feel one gets from November, there are signs of life if you look for them.