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.

Thursday 24th November 2011

The use of pepper spray to deal with protesters at the University of California (UC) Davis campus has had extensive coverage in the media, not least because a TV crew was on hand to get clear footage of the incident and its aftermath, and demonstrated how easy it is to get in trouble for telling the truth.

The students, who were protesting to indicate their support for the various ‘Occupy’ movements around the USA and elsewhere in the world, had sat down across a campus thoroughfare and refused to move when ordered to by campus police. One officer then walked slowly along in front of them spraying the pepper into their faces. If you haven’t already seen it here's the video together with the first hand reporting of the incident.

Initially, there was a lot of coverage focussing on the incident but then the story moved on to what people thought a Fox News presenter had said about it. Megyn Kelly has been widely reviled for saying "It's a derivative of actual pepper; it's a food product, essentially." That has been taken as being dismissive of its effects and has morphed into people claiming she said it was ‘no big deal’. The Los Angeles Times has this piece setting out a fuller summary of what was actually said together with the actual video from Fox News which suggests that Ms Kelly brought the ire down upon herself by saying it might be argued that using pepper spray in this way was within the definition of ‘reasonable force’.

Ms Kelly is perfectly right about it being a food product; pepper spray is a product made from a plant that is, frequently, used as food. Peppers are plants in the Capsicum genus, such as Capsicum annum and Capsicum frutescens. Their common names, bell pepper, chili pepper, green pepper, jalapeno and many others tend to get applied to both these and many other species in the genus. Though often used in cooking by many cultures, Capsicum annum is categorised by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) as Class ‘C’ in its list of potentially harmful plants and, in her book ‘Poisonous Plants – A guide for parents and childcare providers’, Liz Dauncey describes some pretty unpleasant symptoms that can arise from ingestion, skin contact or inhalation.

It’s a very good example of the principle that there is no such thing as a poison; there is just the dose. On 14th November, I wrote about the difficulties of providing a list of poison plants, even if you don’t make those difficulties much greater by trying to provide a ranking for your list. The question of pepper spray is a further illustration.

There are those who would call plants like Allium sativum (garlic), Allium cepa (onion) and Armoracia rusticana (horseradish) poisonous because they can cause quite severe, unpleasant effects. Certainly, grating a fresh horseradish root under the noses of the UC students would have produced quite similar symptoms to those produced by the pepper spray.  

My purpose in writing about this is not to get into the subject of whether this use was right and who, if anyone, is to blame. It is to point out that, once again, we see an example of the notion that it is the way we, the human race, use plants that makes them harmful. My answer to the frequent question ‘What’s the most dangerous thing in the garden?’ is always the same; ‘The gardener’.

 

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.