Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pretty Poison

Just because something is natural, even beautiful, does not mean it's good. A small but fascinating book titled "Wicked Plants," by Amy Stewart reveals the stories of poisonous plants that may be growing in our own homes and gardens. At this "season of the witch," it's timely, if not intriguing to consider some of these pretty poisons.




Water Hemlock may be found by our river-dwellers. One of the most dangerous plants in the U.S. is often mistaken as edible. A nibble of this delicate beauty can be fatal.









Our friends in the arid southwest may encounter the fall berries of the Coyotillo shrub. The berries produce a poison that leads to slow paralysis that works upward in the body from the lower limbs to the respiratory system.





Perhaps most timely to our witching season is the grainy story of Ergot. A toxic spore that attaches to rye, wheat and barley crops, it may have been the source of convulsions suffered by girls in Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1691, and led them to pointing fingers at "witches," 19 of whom were executed. Ergot, when ingested with its cereal host, causes seizures, hallucinations, and even death. The real culprit in Salem may have been the baker.


98 comments:

Chloe said...

Ivy, What an intriguing post! Yes, the beauty of those plants is part of what makes them so dangerous, isn't it?

Our most dangerous plant to humans here on our property is the stinging nettle we have (unless I count falling trees). Actually we have a couple of kinds of nettle, lurking out there, that always gets me when I least expect it. The worst problem I have with it is during the warm season, when I'm normally running around bare legged and in flip flops. That stuff is worse than fire ants, and I run through those occasionally too, so I should know. Thank goodness for meat tenderizer, which is my salve of choice for these particular things.

I may see if I can trek out away from the house in the next few days (I'll only have to go a couple hundred feet or so) and snap a pic of some of our killer plants, and post them as a continuation of your post here Ivy.

Beautiful but deadly! I'm sure we can come up with a lot of ideas for that one.
Thanks Ivy. Beautiful pictures too!

Chloe said...

Solar,
I saw your post of the last thread, and you can speak for me any time you want! You usually understand me before I understand myself. I saw what you said, and you said it so much better than I could have.

I especially love what you said here: "Just adjustments that have to be made, from time to time..nothing is the same,once time changes it." I needed to hear that, for some reason. It's not that I didn't know it, it's just that you said it at just the right time.

Also Solar, what you said here right on: "Chloe, knows that, but that is not what she talking about. She is talking about something that she mentally debates, and has a hard time of it when she is deciding what to do about it..once she makes her choice of what to do..she will be ok.."

What I was feeling was not particularly tangible, but was more a feeling of loss. Sometimes when things change, you lose something. It's normal, it's progress, but it doesn't stop that feeling. I'm not always rational, and that's ok with me too. I'm not looking for perfection.

Solar, I NEVER could have said those things as well as you did. Thanks.


Just because something is natural, even beautiful, does not mean it's good.

.. got to get Emma down for her nap, then come back and finish the last thread.

Chloe said...

Carol, I just saw a post from Jan on the last thread about a tornado on the ground in Jennings. In case you don't see it, she asked you to let us know that you're safe as soon as you get home. We'll worry about you until we hear.

...also from the last thread: "I find that Carol has created a little oasis to just be yourself, & enjoy the company of others."

Yes Coreen, I feel the same way about what Carol has created here. An Oasis.

Ivy Green said...

I second Coreen's and Chloe's emotion.

Ivy Green said...

"In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death." ~Sam Llewelyn

Chloe said...

Jan, Thanks for your kind words from the last thread.

I don't have any major problems, and what I was talking about was not particularly tangible. I tend to think out loud, so things can change pretty quickly for me. I think what I was feeling has more to do with my procrastination problem, than anything else, but a lot of it is just normal changes that constantly take place in our lives, and Solar explained it beautifully, and in doing so, made me feel better. I like to call myself a creature of moods, and it's true, but they come and go quickly. I should probably just keep more of the things I'm feeling to myself, but I evidently feel the need to share them, so that's that. Thanks again.

Chloe said...

Another good quote Ivy! Very thought provoking, not sure I agree with it though. Beauty may be a by-product, but at times that's all I can see.

You know, I think when we look at those gardens, or anything else we see out there in nature, 'what' we see, tells a lot about 'who' we are. Gardens, trees (my great love), rivers (Carol's), wildlife and all those great things we love so much, may represent the way we feel about life, about our existence.

I don't know why I am so much more at peace with nature, than I am around lots of other people. I think it may be that nature is so much more predictable. Whatever it is, there's no feeling to compare than the serenity of being in the middle of it all, whatever it is you're drawn to, and completely alone. It's so full of unlimited possibilities, and at the same time, a feeling of having arrived and having no need to ask for more.

It's breathtaking.

Solar said...

Ivy,

What a terrific post: Chlo is right "thought provoking" to say the least...Im thinking of what we humans had to do to discover them in the early times of our development...many, many lives were lost-when hungry hominids didn't know that a lot of what nature has grown, was also posionous.

Coreen said...

Ivy,

You did get inspired & gave us something to think about. Luckily, I am not so adventurous
that I would sample any berries, or even
mushrooms that grow wild here.

Since witches night is fast approaching, interesting fact about the maids of Salem, that I had never known.

Carol said...

Very interesting post Ivy. I felt it coming. Made me go look up Euell Gibbons, the guy that stalked the wild asparagus. I love the idea of foraging for wild food and wish we could get Stinky here to talk with us about it.

There was a tornado that hit a little east of here. I think that same weather was going thru our area when I was trying to go from one clinic to the other, about a block, in distance.

The wind was blowing so hard that my umbrella went inside out. I got it back going the right way and the wind was so strong that it wrapped around my head. I was totally soaked to the bone when I finally got in. I'm glad I didn't have on my colorful polka dot undies today. I had to wear a blanket to see the patients at that clinic. I smelled a little like a wet puppy. Maybe a tad better.

Solar said...

"I'm glad I didn't have on my colorful polka dot undies today. I had to wear a blanket to see the patients at that clinic. I smelled a little like a wet puppy. Maybe a tad better"

Pic. please, I have my Jamies one ready..trad ya.!

Carol said...

Ivy, I do understand what the guy meant in the quote you cited. Even though reproduction and death may be the main purpose, we don't think about that, we just appreciate the beauty.

A flower that is beautiful, seen again up north, is the Foxglove. I love those flowers but they can be deadly. They also can be life saving since the drug Digitalis came from that plant. Many of our drugs started as plants.

Vincristine, a powerful chemotherapy agent comes from the Madagascar periwinkle, also called Vinca. Many of our herbs have medicinal uses. I feel like I have a drugstore out on my steps. (I grow lots of herbs)

Carol said...

Found this link in Wiki article about Euell Gibbons:

Edible Wild Plants: A Field Guide to Wild Berries

Comes from Mother Earth News. I loved that magazine. I guess it is still around. I'll look for it on my next Publisher's Clearing House.

Carol said...

Oh, my river is rising. I'm not sure how high it will get but if it gets as few inches higher my pontoon boat might end up on top of my wharf.

It will be OK when the wind shifts to the north and blows the river down some but I may have to stay home tomorrow to keep an eye on it. I don't want to leave in the morning and not be able to return home because the road is impassable.

jan said...

Ivy, I wonder if "ergot" is used to make the medication "ergotomine" It is sometimes used when women hemorrhage in childbirth to halt the bleeding - it can seriously raise blood pressure - a big side effect.

jan said...

Ivy, great post. I love the study of herbs and plants.

jan said...

Carol, so glad you are home safe and sound.

Carol said...

Solar, I didn't exactly pick out those polka dot undies, they came in the cheap six pack I bought at WM. That's the sacrifice one has to make after Wallstreet took all my retirement savings and I have to try to replenish it.

Carol said...

Yes Jan, re: ergotamine, and it was also used to treat migraines in the past. It constricted the blood vessels in the brain.

Carol said...

Thanks for worrying guys. We are safe and have plenty of boats if we need to stay afloat.

jan said...

Looked up ergotomine and it is also used to treat migraine headaches.

jan said...

Ivy "In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death." ~Sam Llewelyn
Interesting - how is the business of a garden sex???

jan said...

Chloe, thanks for putting up the "sign" new post on the last one. I now know to look for a new post - but tend to be slow in finding stuff.

Solar said...

There was a movie, that Sean Connery did about medicinal plants.

It was amazing to me. How he swung in the air by rope, and tackle to reach the highest tops of the trees that they grew on...looked like a completely different world...like Chloe, I love what nature has made...and like most of what we take from her...

jan said...

Chloe, "I think when we look at those gardens, or anything else we see out there in nature, 'what' we see, tells a lot about 'who' we are. Gardens, trees (my great love), rivers (Carol's), wildlife and all those great things we love so much, may represent the way we feel about life, about our existence."

I completely agree Chloe, after reading what you said here, I was thinking about what in nature really "grabs" me and I have to say it's the Ocean. When we lived in Ark. we went to beaches in NC and Fla as much as we could. My dream is - when I retire I want to move close to the ocean (for at least a year). My favorite place is Wrightsville Beach N.C. I would miss my sons and grandkids - but I sure would like to spend more time there. When I can hear the sound of the surf and see the ocean and feel the salty air on my skin, I am completely at peace.

Carol said...

Another interesting article in Mother Earth News:

Foraging Wild Edible Plants

Ivy Green said...

I have some catch-up reading here...


"The wind was blowing so hard that my umbrella went inside out."

Carol,
I think your rain is headed this way. Thanks for the heads-up.

You put me in mind of the first day of my trip in London...still have a tale to tell from that...will put it together with some pictures and a story.

Ivy Green said...

Jan,
I think it means reproduce, reproduce, reproduce...

Carol said...

Those cures for some of our most devastating diseases are still out in the woods, maybe even in your yard Chloe. Destruction of the our woods and rainforests not only will cost us the beauty but also the cure. Take care of the woods everyone.

jan said...

Ivy, of course!!! You can tell where my mind is.

jan said...

Carol, you have picked up some folks in Argentina and Venezuala.

jan said...

We had some rain in our desert on Wed. We are almost to our annual rainfall of 12 inches this year - whoopie!

Ivy Green said...

Jan,
When those desert flowers bloom, I hope you get some snaps for us...nothing more wondrous than the blooming of the desert...

Carol said...

I saw that Jan. Spain, France and Hungary also. Some of these people from other countries have been there for a while. Those little stars usually disappear when a lurker doesn't drop in for a while so must mean they are interested in what us goofy people at the
Swamp are thinking. Wish they would drop us a line or two.

Ivy Green said...

One of the themes I most loved in my new-favorite book ("Year of Wonders") is the main-character's journey of self through her discovery of the use and power of medicinal plants. She knew the possession of such knowledge could get her labelled as a witch, but she could not forsake her destiny as a healer.

Carol said...

How many years were you in Argentina Jan?

Carol said...

I'm been lurking on the Trail and I really don't understand what that kid is talking about most of the time but I think he just insulted the host there.

What does EWW mean? Must be that texting language.

Ivy Green said...

Carol,
I'm following my practice of letting it go, let his grandfather handle it which I suspect he will. 'Nuf said by me.

Carol said...

Ivy, I think those storms we had today will hit you tomorrow then a nice weekend for you.

jan said...

I have a hard time understanding what anyone on TM is talking about. I will keep lurking and see if I can improve my comprhension skills.

Ivy, I will get out soon and take some pics of native flower.I will have to get out of the city to do much of that. I took some pics on a walk in my "hood" the other day of changing foliage color and interesting stuff. People have planted a lot of stuff that is imported from other places. That is why the allergies are so bad here. I have heard that many years ago people moved here to improve asthma and allergies - but that is not true any longer. The city of Albuq has some restrictions on new houses now that keeps builders and owners from planting too much grass and there are some trees that it is forbidden to plant.

Carol, I lived in Argentina 3 years.

jan said...

My Cherokee grandmother used to put wet tobacco (she spit on it) on insect bites when I was a kid. I think the nicotine constricts the blood vessels where the bite is and keeps the venom or whatever is in a bite from spreading. It took the sting right out and it didn't swell up or get red. Someone once told me they use tobacco leaves to put in a bleeding wound to stop the bleeding.

Carol said...

Example of the quote Ivy cited:

Deadheading flowers, pinching off the dead flower, is often necessary to keep a flowering plant producing new flowers.

"First, and foremost, deadheading will promote new flower growth. All things in nature have a built in desire to reproduce offspring. Flower plants are no exception. Inside of the flower is where the seeds are produced to create the next generation of plants. Once they have been produced, the plant has satisfied it's need to reproduce. At that time, flower production stops. Sometimes the life cycle is complete, and the plant dies."

Deadheading Flowers

If you have ever grown cucumbers and you let one of those cucs grow into something that looks like a watermelon, that vine dies.

Carol said...

Jan, I went to a allergic rhinitis talk a couple of years ago and they said that allergens can travel 600 miles with the wind. You probably can't avoid them.

Ivy Green said...

Thanks for that Deadhead item, Carol.

Last dose of meds for Miss College's Cat...Hallelujah!

jan said...

Carol, We do have some good winds here from time to time. My allergies have been worse here and John has developed asthma.

jan said...

Ivy, I feel the same way when I finish some antibiotics. Yayyy for you and Miss College's cat.

jan said...

Good night all. TGIF tomorrow - I am ready for the weekend.

Coreen said...

My phone has been ringing off the hook, Yankees
just scored 6 runs in the 7th to take the lead
6-4. I was calm until now!!

Coreen said...

My phone has been ringing off the hook, Yankees
just scored 6 runs in the 7th to take the lead
6-4. I was calm until now!!

jan said...

Oh yes, I did finish that test. I will celebrate with Miss C's Cat. I really mean - good nite- now.

Coreen said...

Oops!

Carol said...

Great Coreen. Are they still playing the Angels or are they on to another team?

jan said...

Coreen, congratulations and hope the Yankees win.

Carol said...

Is Ms CC better Ivy? Does she/he have to go for another urine test?

Coreen said...

Its still the Angels---but Burnett just started
the 7th by letting 2 men on with no outs. Girardi just pulled---I think Jaba is coming in, but they need to hold the halos for 9 more
outs & then the Yankees would be in the Series.

Otherwise the 6th game will be at the Stadium
Saturday night.

My phone's is ringing again--we are all pretty
anxious right now. See ya all.

Carol said...

Congrats on the test Jan. Do you do Item analysis on your tests?

I liked using tests that have been used befoe and analyzed but it was so hard to keep them secure. Nursing students were so good at getting copies.

Carol said...

And it is nice that they have computers to do it now.

Ivy Green said...

Miss CC appears much improved. Vet didn't ask for a return visit. Do you think I should request one, or see how it goes?

Carol said...

Ivy, I don't think Ms. CC wants another visit. Just pretend I never mentioned it. For humans, who don't need a cage or a litter box, I always recheck the urine after they complete their antibiotic.

Ivy Green said...

Carol,
We'll keep a close eye (and nose) on her.

Carol said...

Nose Ivy?

Ivy Green said...

That was the tell-tale symptom...phew!

Ivy Green said...

Night Blooming Garden

Following the evening's intoxicating breeze
wandering down the winding path
lying within the shadows
of the night blooming garden
Moonflowers, climbing the fence in disarray
Evening Primrose, tickling senses gently
Tracing the wonderful spicy scent
of the evening-scented stock
Sitting down on an inviting bench
closing my eyes, breathing deeply
inhaling the delicate mixture of scents
I relax, unwinding from the day's stress
quietly letting nature perform her magic.

- Linda Lee Ruzicka

Ivy Green said...

I like the poem, but my last two posts juxtaposed is ironically funny...somebody shoulda jumped between in there...oh, well, I'm leaving it that way now...

Carol said...

No, I'm glad you cleared the air Ivy. I slipped away to read the comments about the kid on the Trail. Find it amusing. I give him a couple of weeks before he finds another interesting computer game..or maybe he'll stick around and be running for president in years to come. But by then he might just be beaten by some woman. It could happen by then.

Carol said...

Rut rho, I see, online, the Angels are leading in the top of the 9th. Coreen must be beside herself.

Carol said...

So sorry Coreen.

Carol said...

I was over snipe hunting on the Trail this morning. I really missed that sport...and no animals were killed....

Carol said...

And I love it when I make a comment over there and everyone ignores me. Keeps me centered.

Carol said...

I was wondering if kid's spelling mistakes were really mistakes like mine or the new texting language. People are starting to use texting language when writing and talking at work. Webster may have to start a new dictionary.

One of the security guards said, OMG to me at work when I told her something.

Carol said...

And Jan, OMG it's TGIF. JMHO. ADAD, CWYL


Text Messaging Abbreviations

Coreen said...

Thanks, for the thoughts Carol, not happy but
it is almost as it should be--returning baseball to the Bronx in October---unfortunately, the halos now live to fight another day---remember that old 'mo' could be
a problem, we will see.

And the weather report is that it will be
raining all day/night Saturday---hope they are
wrong.

Chloe said...

"I have a hard time understanding what anyone on TM is talking about. I will keep lurking and see if I can improve my comprhension skills.

LOL Jan. You've got a PhD, I don't think you have to worry about improving your comprehension skills. I thought it was just me, because after being there over a year and a half, I often don't understand much of it either.

I really like the way you experience the Ocean Jan. Wrightsville Beach must be beautiful. I used to feel the same way about the ocean when we lived in California. We had gorgeous beaches both north and south of us, and I spent a lot of time on them. Not here though, The gulf is just not the same.

Are you really thinking of moving close to the ocean when you retire Jan? If that's what you dream about, then I think you should do it. With you and your husband both retired, you'll be free as a bird, so make the most of it.

Chloe said...

Solar, That Sean Connery movie you were talking about was Medicine Man. I looked it up and it was made in '92, so I must have seen it shortly before we moved to Houston. I may have to see it again - it might have even more meaning to me now, given the conversations we've had.

Medicine Man (1992)
Medicine Man (1992)


I saw your post over on TM about your business plans, and it sounds like things could be going really well for you. I'm glad to hear it, and hope it all comes together. You'll be a 'multi-state' contractor. I guess the codes in all three states are probably the same, since they're all contiguous. (?) Or will you be following federal guidelines?
Good luck!

Chloe said...

Carol, I just saw your posts over at TM and you did get a response..from Ed. He told you what eww meant. Here it is, in case you miss it, because Craig put up a new thread: "eww is meant to produce a sound, not necessarily of disgust, but at least derision".

...(I think it must be that sound that sounds kinda like oooooh)(?)

I think you would probably have gotten more responses if he hadn't changed threads.

Chloe said...

Eww may be better described as sounding like ooooh and u combined.
(oh boy, now I'm really getting into it)

jan said...

Carol, thanks for the link to txt abbreviations. This is just like taking a medical abbreviations course. Interesting, and I bet these were all invented by teens. I am glad to know that LOL means several things - I have putting LOL on messages to a lot of people and it could have been misinterpreted.

jan said...

Chloe, since you lived in Calif and we are closer to CA than the east coast, can you tell me some beaches you liked, more in Southern area. I would like to visit some.

jan said...

Carol, I do item analysis on all mult choice tests. I love to read the analysis. We have to send the scantron forms to main campus for analysis so takes about 2 days before we get them back. I can hardly wait.I loved the analysis when I did research too. If I were younger I would do more in stats.

jan said...

Ivy, on my walk this morning I saw some coyotillo shrub that they had planted in front of one of the buildings I pass every day. I got so excited. Tomorrow, I am going to take some scissors and cut a piece to compare with the picture.

Chloe said...

Jan, If we went north, we'd end up at the Ventura or Santa Barbara beaches.
But the ones I went to most frequently were Santa Monica, Malibu and Zuma. LaJolla is beautiful, and is down toward San Diego (which is a nice place to visit too). They have a beautiful zoo there, and it's right across from Mexico.

The only thing with California beaches, is they can get pretty crowded. But off season, not as much. California is a great place to visit, lots of sites, good weather, and they have excellent food. If you planned it well, I think you have a very good time and the beaches are gorgeous.

Chloe said...

Carol, I just read the new TM thread, and you got several more responses on your posts.

Chloe said...

Jan, There's something about the Pacific ocean that I love. If you've never been there, I'd definitely plan a visit, especially since you're fairly close. I think you'd be there in a couple of days. It took three days to drive here, but we were pulling trailers and stopping early in the evenings.

Ivy Green said...

I was taught it's the duty of the communicator to assure audience comprehension, not the audience. If a person can't understand me, I haven't made myself clear.

Ivy Green said...

Jan,
Be careful handling those berries!

Ivy Green said...

There is a secluded little town called Seal Beach on the ocean situated next to Long Beach. A friend let us use her cottage there. You can't say no to "free!" We loved the place. Not touristy, felt more like "old California" with real people. Lots of Victorian-era to 1920's architecture. The town culture is based on firefighters which appealed to Hubs. We'd go back there anytime.

jan said...

Chloe, Thank you for info on beaches in Calif. We have been in NM for 6 years and have not driven further than Phoenix. We did spend a few days in Palm Desert about 4 years ago - flew there. John has a brother who moved close to San Diego last year - it is time to visit them. Definitely will visit CA beaches in off season.

Ivy, I may just take my camera & take a pic of the coyota-whatever - Not gonna touch it. Paralysis would not be good. Glad you said something.

Ivy, Seal Beach sounds delightful. We would like to explore when it is not too crowded.

Ivy Green said...

Jan,
We were there at the beginning of October and it was delightful. We don't ever "lay" on the beach, we walk it, and we did a lot of that. It was uncrowded. During that same trip, we had stayed in Palm Desert the first week. We loved that place too.

Solar said...

I spent a lot of time on the beach.

Pics please.

Solar said...

Chloe,

Thanks for the good wishes..It's all in the hands of the Banks...and that is real iffy now..Jack has been waiting for a long time for somethings to go through, and was told..maybe in January... it's either going t o be feast or famine.

Carol,

I think that you are a little wrong about people not wanting to talk to you over at TM...they have (Jack. Bethy, others) have asked for you...

jan said...

Solar, I have some great beach pics taken in NC with my little instamatic a few years ago. I will see if I can get John to scan them and I will send.

jan said...

Ivy, I am a beach walker too-not a beach layer/liar/lair - LOLTM - I love to look for items that wash up on the beach -shells, rocks, glass etc. I always bring home too much of this stuff.

jan said...

Palm Desert is lovely - a fun place for a vacation. My husband did a wedding for the son of a friend there. The wedding was at a big Epispopal church in PD that had the most amazing views of the mountains/hills. I don't remember the name of the church - but a few years later it is the church where they had Pres. Ford's funeral.

jan said...

Back to work for a while -

Ivy Green said...

"It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought." ~James Douglas, Down Shoe Lane

Solar said...

Jan,

I was at that N. C. beach: When I was stationed in Camp Lejune. Had a lot of fun there for about two weeks..in two days time...

I was just teasing Chloe, like I did with Carol's WallMart polka dots.....she forgot to mention that being from WM it only had two dots, and no polkas....

Carol said...

No Solar, they weren't polka dots, they were probably those cheap generic equate dots, but to me, a dot is a dot and I like to save money. They may even have been smiley faces but I can't see that good anymore and I ain't taking out my cheaters to look at my underwear designs.

Carol said...

Oh BTW, TGIF and New Thread.