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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

 Saturday 20th August 2016

It’s been a good year for growing stuff. At least, it seems that way to me. I added that second sentence because I have to acknowledge that it is only my belief that plants, in general, have thrived in this year’s weather rather than the result of any sort of scientific assessment countrywide.

One plant that I would say is more abundant than previous years is Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort. For a number of years, people have claimed that this plant is spreading but a lot of that has been based simply on local and highway authorities reducing the amount of verge cutting they do leaving more of the plants in place to be seen.

A little digression. People who call for verges to be cut when they contain ragwort are missing the fact that cut ragwort becomes palatable. Cutting verges and not clearing them, and I’d be surprised if any authority ever clears what it cuts, would make the ragwort more likely to be harmful. The fact that, back in the days when verges were cut, there were not many deaths simply shows that ragwort growing in verges is not a threat.

Where was I?

This year, I would say that there is more ragwort around. I base this both on general observations as I’ve travelled around the country and one specific field.

These are pictures I took in July 2008 and August 2012;

 

Common ragwort in 2012

 

Ragwort with cattle in 2008



Ragwort in field 

And these are shots I took this year;

Ragwort with cattle 2016

 

Ragwort in field 2016

This field is within about three miles of my home making it easy to get pictures from year to year. This next picture is a field I saw in mid-Wales when I was there in July.

Ragwort with horses in Wales

The reason for including that picture has to do with Taxus baccata, yew. When you ask people why there are so many yew trees in churchyards some of them will say it is because the English longbow was made of yew. That, of course, misses the point that, if yew trees in churchyards were used to make bows there would now be far fewer yews in churchyards. In reality, longbows were made from imported yew because European yew grows straighter than the English tree.

Similarly, seeing ragwort growing in a field with livestock in it is proof that livestock won’t eat the living plant – if they did there wouldn’t be so much to see.

But that is not the main point I wanted to make with this post. That has to do with Cannabis sativa, marijuana. Back in 2007, Hickman et al published a paper in Addiction looking at the prevalence of cannabis use and the prevalence of schizophrenia and projecting the increase in the incidence of schizophrenia that would arise from the increased prevalence of cannabis if the two were connected as is often claimed. Nine years on, it is clear that there is no direct link because the prevalence of schizophrenia has not tracked the earlier increase in cannabis.

The increase in the abundance of ragwort this year presents an opportunity to assess how harmful it is in reality.
It is a more difficult assessment to make because, of course, substantial ingestion would cause liver damage faster than regular ingestion of smaller amounts so there is no clear time delay between the availability of ragwort and the increase in liver failure that it allegedly causes but, if there is no clear evidence of an increase over the next few years, I would argue that this is evidence that ragwort is not the monster it so often is made out to be.

By writing this blog I am actively encouraging people to contact me if they can demonstrate, evidentially, that 2017 onwards shows an increase in liver failure in horses.

 

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



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