Wicked Wednesday….{No. 5}

Ok…who’s been checking their gardens for wicked plants lately?

I have several in mine….I shared last summer about our Bible Garden…..

You can read about it here and here.

I guess I have the flip side…a Wicked Garden, too…and didn’t even know it!

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Ever heard of Mandrake? It grows in Europe, has fruit that looks like small, unripe tomatoes; but the danger lies underground in its root.

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The Romans believed that it could cure demon possession. The Greeks used it for a love potion. In AD 200, in the northern African city of Carthage, Hannibal deserted the city and left behind a huge feast…..with wine laced with mandrake. It caused the whole army to fall in a deep sleep, he came back with his army and completely conquered them.

Shakespeare used it in Romeo and Juliet…..the friar made Juliet a potion with mandrake that would cause her to look “like death when he shuts up the day of life”.

Mandrake attacks the nervous system, slows it down, and induces a coma.

Go on Pinterest and search for Mandrake…..whoa!

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Oleander was once believed to be an antidote for a snake bite. But, alas….it’s no such thing. It is highly toxic…all parts. It is grown in warmer climates {like here in the South} prolifically….hence, there are many tragedies each year. It only takes a couple of leaves to kill an animal.

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Campers have tragically died by using the branches/stems to skewer their food and cook it. Many children have perished from eating the leaves.

Oleander suicides are not uncommon…especially among the elderly. It is grown quite often at many nursing homes……the elderly are quite aware of its toxicity. Sadly, in Sri Lanka, it is the most common way of committing suicide.

We have two beautiful ones in our garden. Please….if you come over…just look.

It is recommended that if you have pets or young children in your home or that visit often….do not have oleander in your yard or garden.

Heading out to put up warning signs in the garden…..

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Wicked Wednesday……… {No. 4}

Each time I type that title I break out into the song from Wicked….you know, the last line…

“I’m feeling wicked!”

If you have not seen the show…by all means…..see it! On Broadway preferably.

Superb!

When the settlers arrived in Jamestown there was a beautiful weed that seemed to flourish. Since other food was scarce…they thought they would add it to their diets.

They died horrible deaths….complete with convulsions and seizures.

The plant? Datura.

Commonly called Moonflower.

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All parts of the plant contains the toxic alkaloids…but the seeds are where they are most concentrated. A woman in Canada used the seeds in a dish she was cooking because she thought they were a type of seasoning….she went into a coma for 24 hours and was hospitalized for 3 days.

In the past many unwise individuals {teenagers} goofed around and made a tea with the leaves….it caused dangerous hallucinations for days, fevers high enough to kill brain cells, and failure of the nervous system….leading to coma and death.

Not only do I grow moonflowers in our garden each year….I give seedlings as gifts. Maybe I should put a warning label on them:

Warning: Do not chew on seeds, use in food, or make tea with any part of this lovely plant. Just look at it.

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Who knew that grass could kill you. There are actually many types of dangerous grasses.

A big one is Johnson Grass…..it grows throughout the U.S.

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It contains enough cyanide to kill a horse. Death is usually very quick….preceded by hours of anxiety, convulsions, and staggering. Oh joy.

Just read a caption on Pinterest that said…’Did you know you can juice Johnson Grass just like wheat grass?’ Yeah. Right.

No, thanks.

Watch what you munch on~

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Wicked Wednesday……..{No. 3}

One morning in 1978 a communist defector and BBC journalist was waiting at a bus stop when he felt a painful stab in his thigh….he turned to find a man picking up his umbrella and apologizing.  Not long after he had a fever, was hospitalized, began throwing up blood, and then he died.

When the doctors performed an autopsy they found hemorrhaging in every organ in his body and a capsule in a puncture wound in his thigh that contained extract from the Castor Bean plant. It was suspected that a KGB agent was the culprit.

Castor Bean PlantCastor Bean Plant  {source}

Castor bean is in a lot of our gardens…it is sold to deter moles and voles. It is sold at most garden centers in the U.S. It has very pretty foliage….and, yes, it is the source of castor oil. Mussolini’s men used to use castor oil on dissidents….they would grab them and stuff a bottle of castor oil in their mouth as a form of punishment…leaving them with a really bad case of you-know-what! Oh, yeah. That’ll teach ’em. With such great ideas you can see how some of these people become leaders, right?

Supposedly the deadly poison ricin has been removed before you purchase your bottle of castor oil…..but just be careful! 😉

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In the late 1800’s Sigmund Freud was quoted as saying:

“a cocainization of the left nostril had helped me to an amazing extent. In the last few days I have felt quite unbelievably well, as though everything had been erased…I have felt wonderful, as though there never had been anything wrong at all.”

{Hmmmm….and there are people that have trusted this man and have based the study of our minds on his opinions??? Someone not in their right mind tells us what is going on with our mind? Lord, help us!}

Coca PlantCoca Plant {source}

The small bush that had changed Freud’s life was the coca plant….or more commonly referred to as cocaine. {Here come my crazy hits!}

Cocaine is an alkaloid that is extracted from the coca plant grown in South America and was found in the earliest versions of the drink Coca-Cola.

Even though Coca-Cola’s recipe is a super guarded secret….supposedly coca is still used in the flavoring today…just without the cocaine alkaloid. Supposedly.

Hmmmmm…I wonder if that is why my great-grandmother had to start each day with a Coca-Cola in order to function? Hmmmmm………..if she only knew.

Anyone know of any fun wicked plant info for us?

Be careful what you grow……and chew on…..and swallow……….

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Wicked Wednesday…..{No. 2}

I hope you are having a Wonderful Wednesday…not a wicked one! But I have some more fun, wicked plant facts to share……

Did you know that the Greeks used hellebore in one of the earliest known instances of chemical warfare?

Hellebore

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Or that here in the American South kudzu has literally eaten buildings and cars? {I know if you live here….you already knew that one!}

Kudzu Eating a Building

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Kudzu Eating a Car

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Or that a killer algae escaped from Jacque Cousteau’s aquarium and continues today to smother the ocean floor all over the world?

Cousteau's Killer Algae

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Encountered any of these???? =)

Have a Wonderful Wednesday~

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Wicked Wednesday…..{No. 1}

Since I love to garden I have always enjoyed learning about plants, their habits, their uses through history, etc. I find it fascinating.  Over the  years I have learned so many fun facts…ones I had never heard before.  So many plants are wicked! 😉

I thought it would be fun to scour through my garden journal and share some of the fun Wicked Plants that I’ve learned about over the years….since spring is around the corner and those of us that like to garden are beginning to think about the plants we want to add to our yards.

Did you know that “Mary Wanna”…… I’m not gong to use the real name because I will get some crazy, goofy hits on my site!  Several months ago I was writing about painting a large _________-of-drawers…..and the word ‘large’ paired with the word ‘chest’ landed so many hits on our blog it almost shut down….I got some crazy followers….but they quickly unfollowed because they were definitely disappointed. ha! So, back to my story…..

Did you know that “Mary Wanna” was sold as candy on the streets of NYC from the mid-1800’s-around 1900? It was called ‘Arabian Gunje of Enchantment’.  Candy. On the street. To kids. ha!

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Monkshood {source}

Did you know that Monkshood/wolfsbane/leopard’s bane {Aconite} is commonly mistaken for an edible herb? In the 1800’s a cook went outside to get horseradish, accidentally picked monkshood, and killed 2 of the dinner guests by putting it in the food.  All parts of this plant are toxic. Nazis used it to make poison bullets. The poison attacks the nerves and eventually stops the heart. Even a brief skin contact with this plant can lead to tingling, numbness, and cardiac symptons. A Canadian actor died after encountering monkshood on a hiking trip in 2004. ugh! Look at that picture up there….it’s gorgeous! It would be just like me to pick this, come home, put it in vases all over the house and then keel over dead. ha! A big sacrifice just to want lovely fresh flowers in the house.

Do you have any wicked facts about plants that you were surprised to find out about?

Trying not to get poisoned~

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