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'Wicked Plants' Creep Through Brooklyn Gardens
npr. ^ | June 19, 2009 | Margot Adler

Posted on 06/19/2009 11:49:40 AM PDT by JoeProBono

Things are not as placid and peaceful in the plant kingdom as you might believe. Beyond the flowers, butterflies and vegetables, something dark is lurking in the garden.

In her new book, Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities, author Amy Stewart focuses on plants that are illegal, dangerous — even deadly.

Stewart says people don't realize that many plants have protective poisons to defend themselves from bugs and animals, including humans. For instance, oleander may have beautiful flowers, but if you ingest enough of it, your heart will stop.

"There's a woman in Southern California who tried to murder her husband with oleander," says Stewart, who has written several books on gardening. She says the woman's plan didn't work because she didn't give him enough. "He landed in the hospital and he survived," she says. "Then she killed him with antifreeze." Stewart says the woman is on death row.

This summer, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is showcasing many of these "evil plants" among its lily ponds and greenhouses. They feature scores of examples of plants that make you sick, make you hallucinate, and a few that can even kill. Though there are no illegal plants, like cannabis, the garden does have some that are dangerous, like jimson weed. It's said that jimson weed, named after Jamestown, made many of the first settlers sick.

As she runs her fingers through a beautiful hedge of yew at the garden, Stewart says the innocent-looking plant is quite poisonous if eaten. She's learned to be careful by wearing gloves. She recalls becoming dizzy one day while wandering through a field of tobacco.

"It was like being covered with nicotine patches," she says. "My heart started racing."

Next to one beautiful tree at the Botanic Garden is a sign with a skull and crossbones. It's poison sumac, and Stewart says the plant changed the life of Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York's Central Park. Wandering through the fields of poison sumac damaged Olmsted's eyesight, causing him to stay out of school for a year — time he spent getting interested in landscape architecture.


TOPICS: Books/Literature; Gardening
KEYWORDS: plants
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Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities By Amy Stewart


1 posted on 06/19/2009 11:49:41 AM PDT by JoeProBono
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To: JoeProBono
"Vile Weed"


2 posted on 06/19/2009 11:54:45 AM PDT by BallyBill (Serial Hit-N-Run poster)
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To: JoeProBono

Plants don’t kill people..people kill people.

Friends don’t let friends listen to NPR.


3 posted on 06/19/2009 11:55:44 AM PDT by Huskrrrr
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To: All

Oleander Poisonous Plants


4 posted on 06/19/2009 11:56:55 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet)
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To: JoeProBono

Castor beans, Rhubarb leaves, parts of cherry and peach trees, the list goes on. Here are some: http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/publications/poison/poison.html


5 posted on 06/19/2009 11:57:34 AM PDT by USMCPOP (Father of LCpl. Karl Linn, KIA 1/26/2005 Al Haqlaniyah, Iraq)
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To: JoeProBono

L

6 posted on 06/19/2009 11:59:11 AM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: JoeProBono
If we let "climateglobalwarmingchange" happen it will be warmer and all these plants will proliferate and KILL US ALL!/s


7 posted on 06/19/2009 11:59:16 AM PDT by Dallas59 ("You know the one with the big ears? He might be yours, but he ain't my president.")
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To: JoeProBono

Belladonna, Pennyroyal, foxglove,cowbane,holly, ivy, just to name a few that can be lethal if ingested...


8 posted on 06/19/2009 12:00:02 PM PDT by FeliciaCat (I like my money where I can see it...hanging in my closet.)
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To: BallyBill

9 posted on 06/19/2009 12:03:53 PM PDT by dblshot
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To: Lurker; JoeProBono

10 posted on 06/19/2009 12:04:55 PM PDT by Daffynition ("If any of you die, can I please have your ammo?" ~ Gator113)
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To: Huskrrrr

11 posted on 06/19/2009 12:06:54 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet)
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To: JoeProBono

Dumb title. Now stupid people will want laws banning these plants from being sold.

News to these morons: Even plants that are good for you, like spinach, contain small quantities of natural poisons, such as oxalic acid.


12 posted on 06/19/2009 12:07:13 PM PDT by LibFreeOrDie (Obama promised a gold mine, but he will give us the shaft.)
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To: JoeProBono

I was thinking more ‘Dragonwyck’. I knew it was trouble when Vincent Price showed up with that Oleandar. Da Da Duuuuuum


13 posted on 06/19/2009 12:08:34 PM PDT by ReneeLynn (Socialism, it's the new black.)
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To: JoeProBono
Bodysnachicus Scificisious cand be quite harmful as well. Here is a classic specimin:


14 posted on 06/19/2009 12:09:37 PM PDT by frithguild (Can I drill your head now?)
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To: Daffynition

15 posted on 06/19/2009 12:10:26 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet)
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To: shibumi

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soRQlZ98-C0&feature=PlayList&p=160C9A6F5A781FD2


16 posted on 06/19/2009 12:12:25 PM PDT by Salamander (Cursed with Second Sight.)
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To: Salamander

17 posted on 06/19/2009 12:27:25 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet)
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To: JoeProBono

My pleasure....:)

[but I really shouldn’t have worn that dress]


18 posted on 06/19/2009 12:38:33 PM PDT by Salamander (Cursed with Second Sight.)
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To: USMCPOP

Thank You for your son’s service to our country.
I am sorry for your great loss.


19 posted on 06/19/2009 12:40:31 PM PDT by silverleaf ("Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal ( Martin Luther King))
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To: JoeProBono

20 posted on 06/19/2009 12:40:48 PM PDT by Daffynition ("If any of you die, can I please have your ammo?" ~ Gator113)
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