Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wicked Plants The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother And Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart

Written in an easy to read A to Z format, this book describes a number of plants that can kill, intoxicate, paralyze, strangle, or just make you, or your pet, very, very sick. It is filled with fascinating tidbits about history, medicine, and legends. And there are several black and white line drawings to aid identification in case you have any of these baneful botanicals flourishing in your own yard.

Some of the highlights include poisons for arrow tips; ordeal beans; betel nuts that produce a blood red salvia and rival nicotine for addictiveness; the cocoa plant that gave the world cocaine; a popular candy made from marijuana that was once sold on the streets of New York in the latter half of the nineteenth century; the dynamite tree whose fruits explode with a loud bang that sends poisonous seeds flying; what corn has to do with Dracula; common foods like cashews and red kidney beans that can cause great distress if they are improperly prepared; popular yard and houseplants that can also be dangerous like Sago Palms, the Jerusalem Cherry, and Peace Lilies; the death of Abraham Lincoln's mother; the killer algae that escaped for Jacques Costeau’s aquarium to invade the world’s oceans; wormwood one of the main ingredients in Absinthe, the beloved drink of Oscar Wilde and French bohemians, affectionately known as “The Green Fairy; strangler figs, and much more.

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