Poisonous Plants


A bucketful of deadly poisons accompanied Penallt WI’s September speaker – hemlock, nightshade, monkshood, henbane and thorn apple – but these were no ingredients for a cooking demo or sinister flower arranging class.

Stephanie Poulter’s talk on poisonous plants enlightened her audience into just how many garden and hedgerow plants are more suited to a Borgia potions cupboard than a country kitchen salad bowl.  Yew, laurel and ragwort are a special danger to livestock and there was useful information for dog owners as to which sticks it was inadvisable to throw for Rover to fetch.

Poisons, however, are also medicinal herbs –digitalis (foxglove), for example, an important drug in the treatment of heart disease.  The poisons on show were not just local plants.  The striking ethnic necklace worn by the speaker included deadly South American beans for which there is no known antidote – perhaps not the wisest buy in the craft shop.

The audience were quite relieved when she took it off.  The evening proved a great success, but with its new found interest in poisons it might not be a good idea to annoy Penallt WI and if the editorial staff of an un-named local newspaper (with offices half way up Monnow Street) insist on snipping bits off our press reports they shouldn’t be surprised to find themselves growing fur or turning into lizards!

The next meeting will be on Thursday 6th October when David Harrison will be talking about ‘Fabulous Statues‘.