2006-11-17

Addams Family Gardening Values

One of my dreams is to design and grow a border for the Addams family: mandrake, wolfsbane, moonflower, the spikiest and thorniest plants. And everything poisonous I can find.

However, in an urban setting, I have to consider the children, and neighbor's pets. Seems that some in my neighborhood care to overlook these concerns:
Q. I want to grow the huge, gorgeous red-leafed plants I’ve seen on my neighbors’ stoops in Brooklyn. But I’ve been told they are ricinus, the plant that was used to assassinate the Bulgarian dissident Georgi I. Markov, back in 1978. Please tell me this is not the same ricinus but only a harmless cousin.

A. Ricinus, a k a castor bean, is cousin-free. There is only one species, Ricinus communis. The ricin it contains, primarily in the seed coat, is among the deadliest poisons known. And like many plants in the spurge (Euphorbia) family, it can cause rashes in those who are sensitive to it.

- Poison on the Stoop, New York Times, November 16, 2006
The Times response goes on to note "Yet accidental poisonings are rare." I haven't seen seen anyone growing this plant myself, but I would be concerned. It would be easy for the seeds to drop down the steps to the sidewalk. There are dogs I know who eat sticks off the sidewalk. They wouldn't hesitate to snatch up a shiny seed or ten.

via Brooklyn Record.

6 comments:

robin andrea said...

How interesting! I've never thought about a garden of poisonous plants. The Diabolical Garden.

chuck b. said...

There's an English garden of poison plants.

And there's this:
http://www.boingboing.net/2006/11/17/goth_terrarium.html

The County Clerk said...

a little disturbing.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Castor bean plant is grown a lot here in Cleveland as an annual, too. I think that the fact that it is easy to grow and looks showy and tropical will keep people growing it in spite of the risk.

I can't bring myself to grow castor bean--or monkshood, either--here in the city for the same reasons you don't. However, I do grow the poisonous rhododendron, digitalis, and lily-of-the-valley. Rhodies seem to not invite dogs or kids to chew on them, the foxgloves are kept in the front yard away from the sidewalks, and the lily-of-the-valley will be trimmed of its berries every year if a young child or dog moves in next door.

lisa said...

Wow...you guys are a lot more "socially responsible" with your gardening than I am! Of course, I live in the middle of the woods, but some of the "shackers" (vacationers) have dogs...still I plant what I want, regardless. My property is by no means near any public property, so I figure if somebody's pets are in my yard and get poisoned, then the irresponsible pet owner is to blame. As for kids...I need worry only if I grow pot plants! ;)

Anonymous said...

Diabolical gardens! I love it. Can you suggest plants that paralyze pooper-scooper scofflaws?

Monica