Monday, June 19, 2017

The Beginnings of a Poisonous Garden by C.J. Burright

Over the last decade or so, spring has brought with it an unfortunate tradition into my life. I go outside, inspired to garden with all the lovely flowers and innocent woodland creatures, and upon my return to the great indoors, it is inevitable. It has an appropriate name: poison oak, and the things it does to me are not in any way enjoyable. Puffy face. Horrible rash. Blisters. The itching is the stuff torture chambers in horror movies are made of. And I’ll be the first to admit that me + poison oak = dark things.

And while I was in that bleak place where I cursed the outdoors, plants, cats that wander into poison oak and bring it back to me, and even well-meaning husbands, the dark side of me (oh, yes. She most definitely exists) was inspired to write this post. What if, instead of beautiful flowers and edible vegetables, I planted a poisonous garden? *Rubs hands together and cackles* You never know when you might need to pass on a little poison, and here are a few plants that might be helpful. You know, so others might share in the misery.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Narcissus. Grinding up its bulb and sprinkling it in…oh, I don’t know, chocolate chip cookies that your innocent victims won’t suspect…will cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Too much can be fatal, so use accordingly. Did you know that this flower was named after the Greek legend Narcissus, who saw his reflection in water, became obsessed, and fell in? He drowned and made a comeback as the flower. Also, in ancient times, the flower’s perfume had a bad rep of causing headaches, madness and death. Definitely a good fit for a poison plant garden, eh? On the positive side, the bulbs may also be used as an antiseptic dressing for wounds, and mixing it (not too much!) with honey serves as a painkiller. I suppose it’s another case of user intent.

Lily of the Valley. Consuming its leaves and flowers will instigate irregular heart rate, digestive upset and mental confusion. Serving it to an unlucky, unsuspecting guest might make for good party entertainment, at least the mental confusion part. Once upon a time, Lily of the Valley was considered unlucky, said to have sprouted from St. Leonard’s wounds after he vanquished a dragon. That sounds like good luck to me, but whatever. And the Irish believe these flowers are used as fairy ladders…with a warning. The gardener who plants a bed of them will be struck dead in a year. So maybe keep only one plant in your poison garden. The ying to the poison yang: Lily of the Valley may alleviate the pain of gout, ease eye pain, restore speech, and help treat heart disease and memory. So once your victim is poisoned and undergoing mental confusion, if you’re feeling benevolent (or guilty) maybe you can use the same plant to restore their memory.  
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Nightshade. If you’re going to have a poisonous plant garden, Nightshade is a must. All parts of it are fatal, especially the unripened berries. Ingesting it causes intensive digestive issues, but more than that, Nightshade is alleged to be a favorite for witch’s spells. In centuries past, it was rumored that consuming small quantities would allow visions into the future. Take too much, though, and it’s madness instead. Also cool, Nightshade is an important ingredient for the flying ointment witches smeared over themselves to ride the skies. And keeping Nightshade close will keep evil spirits away. If only it worked on that demon poison oak…


via GIPHY
There are, of course, many other plants you could include in your poison garden, but I believe I’ve given you enough nefarious ideas for one day. Use your powers for good, people. 😊 Do you have any innocent-looking poisonous plants in your backyard? Are you vulnerable to the evils of poison oak like I am? 

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Such beautiful flowers to be so deadly! I am Rachael Clemons rc12d@yahoo.com

Danielle H. said...

We have poison ivy in the wooded area along the creek in our backyard. WE also have these nasty vines that snake up our fir trees and spit venom at me when I yank them out. Last year my arms had swollen red rashes for over a week. This year, I'm going to wear long sleeves, gloves I can just toss in the trash, and eye protection. Yes, these are definitely plants that belong in the garden you described.

Amy S. said...

I was afflicted with poison sumac a few weeks ago. The dogs got into the nasty stuff and I just had to pet them. We thought we were safe. We had spent a lot of time and money to eradicate the poison ivy and poison oak.I didn't know poison sumac existed. Lesson learned.

Hope you feel better. Calamine lotion is your best friend.:)

Diane Burton said...

I'm allergic to poison ivy. Got it every summer as a kid. Calamine lotion wasn't enough. I had to soak the affected area in a solution of potassium permanganate (purple liquid, turned the skin a yellow-brown). Yuck. I guess now they give you steroids and better topical ointment. As an addition to your poison garden, CJ, poison ivy works well. What about amaryllis belladonna (aka Naked Lady)? Googling "deadly flowers" will give you plenty of pretty flowers for your garden. Fun post.

CJ Burright said...

Thanks for stopping by, Rachel! It amazed me how much deadliness lies beneath the beauty of so many innocent-looking flowers.

CJ Burright said...

Venom-spitting vines?! Yipes! I always regret not wearing long sleeves and gloves, but when it's hot outside I tell myself it's worth the risk. Nope, NOT worth days of misery. :) Thanks so much for dropping by, Danielle - and may your summer be free of venom and poison. :)

CJ Burright said...

I'm so sorry you shared my poison oak experience, Amy! I'm 99.9% sure I usually get the oil off my cats, but it's not like I'm going to not pet them, right? Unfortunately, the calamine lotion wasn't potent enough to help me much. I tried everything...separately and combined and any which way. Maybe that's my super-power: resistance to poison oak remedies.

CJ Burright said...

That's a bummer you're allergic to poison oak too, Diane. Steroids was the only thing that worked, and it still took a couple days to kick in. Great suggestion with the amaryllis belladonna! Those are some of my favorite flowers.

Maureen said...

Interesting post! Although I can't grow much of anything with my 'black thumb' ;)

Sarah DeLong said...

Interesting post about the beautiful and deadly flowers we have! I got poison ivy as a child and was given Benadryl to alleviate the hives and itching and turned out to be allergic to the Benadryl. Hallucinating, vomiting, dizziness. My mom and I had a not so fun ambulance ride to the hospital. So in the years since, I'm extremely cautious when outdoors.

Lacey Waters said...

So sorry to hear the poison oak got you. Again. Hopefully you are feeling much better already!

CJ Burright said...

Wow, Sarah - two allergic reactions on top of one another...I can't even...nope. That sucks! What a way to discover you don't mix with Benadryl. Thanks for sharing your allergy horror story with me. :)

CJ Burright said...

Hey, maybe poisonous plants would thrive with a black thumb, Maureen! :)

CJ Burright said...

Thank you, Lacey! My poison oak reaction is just a bad memory now. Whew!

wigget said...

hope you are better now. I react to poison oak, sumac, icy, etc

CJ Burright said...

I'm feeling much better now, thank you very much. :) That's a shame that you're allergic too, but at least we're in good company, huh? Thanks so much for stopping by!