I’m kicking off #30DaysWild 2022 with a bit of a sinister topic – poisons! Or should I say plants with poisonous properties ☠️
I visited Alnwick Garden in Northumberland and took a tour around their Poison Garden. Well worth a visit, the tour gives you the opportunity to find out all about the variety of plants, their poisonous properties and hear about their involvement in history and folklore.
Enter if you dare, the garden of poison ☠️
Any Agatha Christie fan will know about the variety of poisons a plant can produce, from the well known Deadly Nightshade or Belladonna with its fatal shiny black berries, to hemlock with its respiratory failure inducing properties.
But there are many plants a bit closer to home which may also be considered deadly (or at least make you rather ill) upon ingestion.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common. How many of these do you have in your garden?
Don’t be seduced by this tree with its beautiful cascading yellow flowers, they may be more trouble than they are worth! A beauty to be admired by your eyes only, the laburnum has poisonous properties in the roots, bark, wood, leaves, flower buds, petals, pods AND seeds 😱
Another yellow delight (in most cases), this welcoming sign of Spring may not be so kind if you were to eat their bulbs. Unfortunately there have been cases of people mistaking their daffodil bulbs for spring onion bulbs and ingesting them. Now I understand why Asda has a “do not eat” sign on their bunches of cut daffodils! Although not deadly it still wouldn’t be recommended!
Hands up if you have a Cherry Laurel in your garden? We do! A popular shrub, a lot of people are not quite savvy to its sinister side.
All parts of the plant contain Hydrogen Cyanide especially the leaves and pips of the fruit. Caution should be taken when cutting back this plant. Cyanide starves the brain of oxygen, and there have been tales of people feeling dizzy or even crashing their car when transporting cuttings from the shrub to the tip. The bees certainly love this plant in my garden but I’ll keep my distance! Dogs should also stay away from chewing sticks from the Cherry Laurel too.
The beautiful Acquilegia or Columbine is another favourite in gardens, with their beautiful bonnets. I’ve had these in my garden in the past but didn’t quite realise their toxic properties. The roots and seeds are highly toxic, and although the plants have been used in the past for medicinal reasons, it is not recommended as an incorrect dosage could be fatal ☠️
Digitalis aka Foxglove
The beautiful bell shaped flowers make me think of woodland scenes, although I have planted these in my garden before too. Always guaranteed to be seen on many of my 30 Days Wild adventures, I can’t resist photographing Foxgloves.
Digitalis contains cardiac glycoside which is used in modern day cardiac medicine. Foxgloves are toxic when ingested with even a small amount potentially being fatal. It’s not advised to touch them either as they could cause skin irritation. All in all one to admire from afar.
Don’t panic you can still eat your rhubarb crumble, just make sure you don’t add the leaves to your recipe! The highly toxic leaves contain oxalic acid and anthraquinone alkaloids, resulting in a quick death. 😱
The Oleander plant may not be the most popular addition to your garden, but had to be included in my list due to the fact it’s my son’s middle name!
Both the foliage and leaves are harmful, as well as their branches. Unfortunately a number of French soldiers in the Peninsular War found this out the hard way when they used branches from the plant to skewer meat to cook. Not only did this release toxins into the food, but also into the air though the smoke. Out of the 12 soldiers who ate the meat 7 died.
It is also believed that you should not sleep in the same room as an Oleander, I wouldn’t recommend it with my Oleander either, only because he will cuddle you to death 😂
More images from Alnwick Garden’s Poison Garden
Interested to learn more about the Poison Garden? Watch these videos!
Learn more about poisonous plants in the UK
Alnwick Garden – Poison Garden
Woodland Trust – UK Poisonous Plants
RHS – Potentially Harmful Garden Plants
7 Poisonous Plants to Avoid in a Child Friendly Garden
Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve found this interesting! Comment below with any poisonous plant facts you may have ⬇️