Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities - Amy Stewart (2009)

End Notes

Antidote

Throughout the twentieth century, syrup of ipecac was recommended as a treatment for accidental poisoning. Ipecac is made from the roots of Psychotria ipecacuanha, a flowering shrub in Brazil. The syrup proved to be a powerful emetic, causing violent vomiting that might bring up the poison. Ipecac syrup eventually made its way into the medicine chest of every family with young children as a remedy for accidental poisoning.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical groups now discourage the use of ipecac except if recommended by a doctor or poison control center. The syrup is abused by people with bulimia; in fact, it contributed to the death of singer Karen Carpenter. Ipecac has also been used in a few high-profile poisoning cases in which parents poison their children to get attention, a syndrome called Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Doctors also have more effective treatments for poisoning cases and believe that home use of ipecac may delay better treatment and mask symptoms. Instead, they recommend calling a poison control center or seeking immediate medical attention.

Image

Briony

THE ARTIST AND THE PLANT

Briony Morrow-Cribbs creates copper etchings, fine bound books, and ceramic “cabinets of curiosity” that reflect her fascination with the ways in which the rational language of science meets the grotesque and absurd natural world. A graduate of the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Morrow-Cribbs’s work has been exhibited around the world. She resides in Brattleboro, Vermont, and is represented by the Davidson Gallery in Seattle. She is also the cofounder of Twin Vixen Press.

Briony shares her name with a wicked plant, B. cretica. Native to central and eastern Europe, this sturdy, twining vine produces red berries that cause vomiting, dizziness, and even respiratory failure. White bryony, B. alba, has been called “the kudzu of the Pacific Northwest” for its invasive behavior in that region. All plants in the Bryonia genus are poisonous to humans and livestock; common names include snakeweed, bastard turnip, and devil turnip.

Jonathon

THE ARTIST

Brooklyn-based artist Jonathon Rosen’s clients include Tim Burton, I.D. magazine, Popular Science, Details, Sony, Outside magazine, Psychology Today, New York Times Magazine, Screwgun Records, Salon, Rolling Stone, Fortune, MTV, Time magazine, and Mother Jones, among others. He has authored and illustrated two books, Intestinal Fortitude and Birth of Machine Consciousness, and his work has been collected by the New York Metropolitan Museum, David Cronenberg, and Si Newhouse.

Poison Gardens

ALNWICK POISON GARDENS

This garden in Northumberland, England, is surely the best place in the world to see wicked plants. Fans of the Harry Potter movies will recognize the medieval Alnwick Castle, which served as Hogwarts in the first two films. In the gardens surrounding the castle is an elaborate poison garden where henbane and belladonna flourish alongside tobacco and a caged cannabis specimen. Well worth a visit. Check www.alnwickgarden.com to find out more, or call +44 (0)1665 511350.

BOTANICAL GARDEN OF PADUA

The world’s oldest university botanical garden is situated near Venice in Padova, Italy. It includes an impressive collection of poisonous plants. Find out more at www.ortobotanico.unipd.it/eng/index.htm, or call +39 049 8272119.

CHELSEA PHYSIC GARDEN

This walled, centuries-old apothecaries’ garden in the heart of London, includes a number of medicinal and poison plants, as well as a fascinating “order bed” garden that shows how families of plants are related to each other. Go to www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk, or call +44 (0)20 7352 5646.

MONTREAL BOTANICAL GARDEN

This world-class botanical garden includes a small, fenced toxic plant garden and a medicinal garden. They even include poison ivy in their collection. Check out www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin/en/menu.htm, or call (514) 872-1400.

MUTTER MUSEUM

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia has a museum devoted to our sometimes gruesome medical history. In addition to antique medical equipment and pathological specimens, there is a medicinal garden filled with powerful plants. Visit www.collphyphil.org or call (215) 563-3737.

W. C. MUENSCHER POISONOUS PLANTS GARDEN

Cornell University maintains a poisonous plant garden in Ithaca, New York, as part of its veterinary school. Most of the plants will be familiar to North American gardeners; the goal is to help familiarize students of veterinary medicine with the plants that animals are most likely to encounter. Visit www.plantations.cornell.edu, or call (607) 255-2400.

Visit www.wickedplants.com for links to poisonous plant databases, photos of poisonous plants, and more.

Bibliography

POISONOUS PLANT RESOURCES AND IDENTIFICATION GUIDES

Brickell, Christopher. The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. New York: DK Publishing, 2004.

Brown, Tom, Jr. Tom Brown’s Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants. New York: Berkley Books, 1985.

Bruneton, Jean. Toxic Plants Dangerous to Humans and Animals. Secaucus, NJ: Lavoisier Publishing, 1999.

Foster, Steven. Venomous Animals and Poisonous Plants. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1994.

Frohne, Dietrich. Poisonous Plants: A Handbook for Doctors, Pharmacists, Toxicologists, Biologists and Veterinarians. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2005.

Kingsbury, John. Poinsonous Plants of the United States and Canada. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1964.

Klaassen, Curtis. Casarett & Doull’s Toxicology: The Basic Science of Poisons. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2001.

Turner, Nancy. Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms of North America. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 1991.

Van Wyk, Ben-Erik. Medicinal Plants of the World. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2004.

FURTHER READING

Adams, Jad. Hideous Absinthe: A History of the Devil in a Bottle. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.

Anderson, Thomas. The Poison Ivy, Oak & Sumac Book: A Short Natural History and Cautionary Account. Ukiah, CA: Acton Circle Publishing, 1995.

Attenborough, David. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behaviour. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

Balick, Michael. Plants, People and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany. New York: Scientific American Library, 1996.

Booth, Martin. Cannabis: A History. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003.

Booth, Martin. Opium: A History. New York: Thomas Dunne, 1998.

Brickhouse, Thomas. The Trial and Execution of Socrates. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Cheeke, Peter R. Toxicants of Plant Origin. Vol. I, Alkaloids. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1989.

Conrad, Barnaby. Absinthe: History in a Bottle. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1988.

Crosby, Donald. The Poisoned Weed: Plants Toxic to Skin. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

D’Amato, Peter. The Savage Garden: Cultivating Carnivorous Plants. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1998.

Everist, Selwyn. Poisonous Plants of Australia. Sydney, Australia: Angus and Robertson, 1974.

Gately, Iain. Tobacco: The Story of How Tobacco Seduced the World. New York: Grove Press, 2001.

Gibbons, Bob. The Secret Life of Flowers. London: Blandford, 1990.

Grieve, M. A Modern Herbal. Vols. 1 and 2. New York: Dover, 1982.

Hardin, James. Human Poisoning from Native and Cultivated Plants. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1974.

Hartzell, Hal, Jr. The Yew Tree: A Thousand Whispers. Eugene, OR: Hulogosi, 1991.

Hodgson, Barbara. In the Arms of Morpheus: The Tragic History of Laudanum, Morphine, and Patent Medicines. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2001.

Hodgson, Barbara. Opium: A Portrait of the Heavenly Demon. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999.

Jane, Duchess of Northumberland. The Poison Diaries. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2006.

Jolivet, Pierre. Interrelationship between Insects and Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1998.

Lewin, Louis. Phantastica: A Classic Survey on the Use and Abuse of Mind-Altering Plants. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1998.

Macinnis, Peter. Poisons: From Hemlock to Botox to the Killer Bean of Calabar. New York: Arcade Publishing, 2005.

Mayor, Adrienne. Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Duckworth, 2003.

Meinsesz, Alexandre. Killer Algae. Chicago: University of Chicago. Press, 1999.

Ogren, Thomas. Allergy-Free Gardening. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2000.

Pavord, Anna. The Naming of Names: The Seach for Order in the World of Plants. New York: Bloomsbury, 2005.

Pendell, Dale. Pharmakodynamis Stimulating Plants, Potionsand Herbcraft: Excitantia and Empathogenica. San Francisco: Mercury House, 2002.

Rocco, Fiammetta. Quinine: Malaria and the Quest for a Cure That Changed the World. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.

Schiebinger, Londa. Plants and Empire: Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Spinella, Marcello. The Psychopharmacology of Herbal Medicine: Plant Drugs That Alter Mind, Brain, and Behavior. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2001.

Stuart, David. Dangerous Garden: The Quest for Plants to Change Our Lives. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.

Sumner, Judith. The Natural History of Medicinal Plants. Portland, OR: Timber Press, 2000.

Talalaj, S., D. Talalaj, and J. Talalaj. The Strangest Plants in the World. London: Hale, 1992.

Timbrell, John. The Poison Paradox. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Todd, Kim. Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis. New York: Harcourt, 2007.

Tompkins, Peter. The Secret Life of Plants. New York: Harper Perennial, 1973.

Wee, Yeow Chin. Plants That Heal, Thrill and Kill. Singapore: SNP Reference, 2005.

Wilkins, Malcom. Plantwatching: How Plants Remember, Tell Time, Form Relationships, and More. New York: Facts on File, 1988.

Wittles, Betina. Absinthe: Sip of Seduction; A Contemporary Guide. Denver, CO: Speck Press, 2003.