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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

August 2014

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Tuesday 26th August 2014

I have bad news and good news and bad news. I’m being flippant in the hope that I can prevent the bubbling cauldron of anger inside me boiling over onto the page.

The first bad news; the corncockle story is not dead. On 25th August, the Swindon Advertiser published a story on its website  ‘Poisonous flower discovered in park’. It told the story of a man in Royal Wootton Bassett who spotted Agrostemma githago growing in a public park and reported it to the council...more

Saturday 16th August 2014

One of the ‘facts’ about Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort, that gets spouted in almost any discussion about the plant is that it is increasing out of control. I know enough about the Internet to know that even a complete refutation of that claim would not prevent it being made but I did hope a new report into the frequency and abundance of the five weeds covered by the Weeds Act 1959 as well as Invasive Non-native Species (INNS) would provide a definitive answer to the point, one way or the other.

So, I was disappointed to find that a report from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology entitled ‘Analysis of change in frequency and abundance of injurious weed and selected invasive non native species in England: Final report for Defra. Project WC1042.’ did not offer any level of certainty about the issue...more

Tuesday 5th August 2014

I got into a bit of a discussion with representatives of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) the other day mostly about plant naming and it came back to my mind after a surge in traffic to this site on Sunday that was due to confusion over plant names.

The RHS has a page on its website about Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort, except that it calls it just Senecio jacobaea. My first query was why the internationally agreed name wasn’t shown to which the reply was that Senecio jacobaea is the name used in ‘New Flora of the British Isles’ by Clive Stace and that is the reference document RHS botanists ‘tend to follow’...more

Friday 1st August 2014

There’s an image ‘doing the rounds’ showing a slide presented at some conference or other. It states that the amount of effort needed to counter bullshit is an order of magnitude greater than that required to create it.

That may be an underestimate if a recent interview with MP David Tredinnick is anything to go by. Tredinnick is a member of the House of Commons Health Select Committee and the Science and Technology Select Committee. Those appointments are especially of note since Tredinnick is a believer in a great many unscientific things...more

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