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.

Monday 29th April 2013

Chapter 6 of my book ‘Is That Cat Dead?’ is called ‘Have You Got Something Undetectable?’ the question that summarises all the questions people have about the use of poisonous plants as murder weapons. There are other ways to phrase what is really the same question and I end the chapter by saying;

Had the question been put as ‘What would you suggest as a good murder weapon?’ my answer would have been ‘None of the plants’.

It is this notion that there are better ways of killing people than using plant poisons that I want to explore, today, in the light of four recent stories.

I’ve already written a number of times about the ‘ricin letters’ case so I’ve little to add to that except the appearance of a number of stories speculating that this was more about personal feud than a serious attempt to cause harm.

On 18th April, the outcome of a trial in London was widely reported. The Independent headlined its account ‘Four jailed for plot to bomb Territorial Army army [sic] base’. The plan was to make a bomb and fix it to a remote-controlled toy car that would be low enough to drive under the gates of the chosen target. The men were said to have been guided by the banned magazine ‘Inspire’ and one of them travelled to Pakistan where he is said to have received training.

The men were arrested based on intelligence gathering and surveillance and the toy car plot never got passed a conversation recorded by the British anti-terrorist authorities.

Just over a week later, the trial of eleven men accused of planning suicide bombings ended with them all being convicted and the ring-leader receiving a minimum 18 year sentence. The court heard that Irfan Naseer was a pharmacy graduate who had been trained in bomb-making in Pakistan and hoped to mount an attack with eight suicide bombers that would make the death toll from the 7th July 2005 bombings seem trivial.

Again, the plot was discovered as a result of covert surveillance and it is interesting to note that the police recorded conversations about the possibility of mixing poison with hand cream and smearing this on door handles. This terror route was, however, abandoned in favour of straightforward bombings.

The fourth story is not about terrorists but about the alleged activities of the Syrian government. Numerous reports appeared on 25th April saying that US President Obama was close to concluding that Syria had used sarin against anti-regime elements but was still not sure if this was done under instruction from the highest level in government or was a rogue field commander.

By the Sundays, the issues involved in trying to confirm the use of sarin were being discussed with the Observer, for example, noting that some of the reports talk of white smoke and an acidic smell but sarin is invisible and odourless.

So, in one case where ricin was present it seems most likely that it wasn’t intended to cause harm and in three instances where people were intent on causing harm something other than ricin was selected.

I am actually a little encouraged that the message is finally getting through because much more of the reporting of the ricin letters case has focussed on ricin’s deficiencies as a means of doing harm and, so far, I haven’t read any reporting of the Syrian situation confusing ricin and sarin.

It is not all good news, of course. Today, I read a column, which I have no intention of linking to, suggesting that there could be a connection between the bombing of the Boston Marathon and the ricin letters. There was no attempt to provide any logical route for young men from Chechnya to be connected to oddball whites in Mississippi but, for the truly deluded conspiracy theorists, logic is wholly unimportant.  


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.