Friday, August 21, 2009

Dark Garden: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities

full article,

DARK GARDEN: Amy Stewart’s “Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities” enters the hardcover advice and miscellaneous list at No. 8. Finally, a how-to book that actually teaches something useful! Want to discourage lingering weekend guests? Try spiking the salad dressing with castor oil, a power­ful laxative. (It worked for Mussolini’s thugs, who chased opponents down the street and force-fed them bottles of the stuff.) Need a gift for the chest-beating hot-pepper freak at work? Blair’s 16 Million Reserve, a pure capsaicin extract marketed as a pharmaceutical-grade hot sauce, retails for only $199 a milliliter.

In a chapter called “Lawn of Death,” Stewart describes the David Lynch-like hazards lurking at the margins of the idyllic suburban veld, from Timothy grass (allergies) and Johnson grass (young shoots contain enough cyanide to kill a horse) to Pampas grass (“highly flammable and virtually impossible to kill”) and darnel, a ryegrass often infected with a fungus that if ingested can cause symptoms resembling ­drunkenness.

As for Lincoln’s mother, she died at age 34 of milk sickness, caused by drinking the milk of cows that had grazed on white snakeroot, a plant still found in the woods of Eastern North America.



Link includes video of author discussing dangerous plants:

Amy Stewart's website:

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