Friday, August 21, 2009
Dark Garden: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities
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.
by JENNIFER SCHUESSLER
Link includes video of author discussing dangerous plants:
Amy Stewart's website: http://www.amystewart.com/wickedplants.html
Posted by Chris Mansel at 12:52 AM