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.

Friday 1st February 2013

February already. I’m not so rash as to think we have put the worst of the winter behind us but it is true that February brings clear signs that winter is slowly beginning to give way to spring. I’m hearing reports, from the south-west of England and even from the west coast of Scotland, of Eranthis hyemalis (winter aconite), Galanthus nivalis (snowdrop) and Narcissus spp. (daffodil) all coming into flower, the last in only a very few locations it is true.

These reports have been enough to set me thinking about my own garden planting for this year. At this time, I should be starting to think about starting some seeds but, with no guarantee that this summer will be an improvement on the last few, I’m finding myself reluctant to put in the effort of tending seeds for the next three months in case, as last year, the plants I produce never mature once planted out in the garden.

Hyoscyamus niger, black henbane

Hyoscyamus niger (black henbane)

There’s only really three plants that I want to have; Hyoscyamus niger (black henbane), Nicotiana sylvestris (tobacco) and Ricinus communis (castor oil plant). I still have seeds for all of them left over from last year so I could set to and prepare my seed trays.

Instead, I’ve decided to go for buying plants ready to plant out. It’s not as easy as going to the local garden centre and filling the trolley. Nicotiana sylvestris is usually quite easy to get in from late April but you have to take care to get the true variety and not one of the many that have been modified to be low growing or produce different coloured flowers.

Hyoscyamus niger is much more difficult. I know it is not readily available because, in 2008, I sent a few plants to a garden designer for a witchcraft garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show when she had left it late to grow her own from seed and could not find a source for young plants. But, starting from the Royal Horticultural Society plant finder pages,  I have found one supplier offering plants in one litre pots so I think I’ll be ordering some from there.

Ricinus communis (castor oil plant)

Ricinus communis (castor oil plant)

Ricinus communis may turn out to be the most difficult. In recent years, it does seem that fewer garden centres have stocked it. In 2005, during a weekend visit to friends in Surrey before flying on holiday from Gatwick Airport, we visited a garden centre which had a number of plants for sale. So many, in fact, that I decided to buy on our return rather than expect our friends to tend for them while we were away. Unfortunately, that was the holiday that ended with my wife in hospital so our return plans did not go smoothly.

Since then, I’ve never seen it on sale in any garden centre. I have succeeded with seeds a couple of times, or rather I should say partially succeeded because the plants never reached their full potential.

For the castor oil plant, the RHS finder led me to two nurseries that have it in their catalogues but show it as unavailable. That might just be the time of year so I’ll have to remember to look again in a month or so.

I have still got some Strychnos nux-vomica, poison nut tree, seeds left from the last batch I bought and I think, in a true triumph of hope over experience, I will sow a few of those to see if my luck has finally changed.

Strychnos nux-vomica, poison nut tree

Submit a Comment

You can send comments via the contact page but please be sure to say what blog entry you are commenting on.

Follow @thepoisongarden on Twitter

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 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


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