Happy Halloween! One way to strike terror into this night of goblins and ghosts is to think of the fears that plants have generated over the centuries. Deadly nightshade was rightly understood to be a poison, but other members of the family, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers were less deadly and more delicious. The large pale flower of datura, another member of the family, is beautiful but equally deadly.
Not all peas (Lathyrus sativus) are benign, or all members of the corn family. Elderberry wine is good, but don’t put raw elderberries on your cereal, or you’ll be ingesting cyanide.
Amy Stewart’s book WICKED PLANTS: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities will keep you awake nights with its full catalog of Deadly, Dangerous, Destructive, Painful and Offensive plants, many of which could be right in your own garden. Boo!