England’s Poison Garden Has Some Of The Deadliest Plants On The Planet. It’s Surreal.

by Aswathy Gopinath9 years ago
Picture England’s Poison Garden Has Some Of The Deadliest Plants On The Planet. It’s Surreal.

Quite an unusual fancy – poisonous plants, and although botanists have studied them before, humans generally avoid any contact (as much as we can help it) with any plant that might even remotely be poisonous and capable of contaminating life.

It will come as quite a surprise, then, if I were to tell you that there exists, in Northumberland, England, a garden dedicated solely to poisonous plants. Established by Jane Percy, the Duchess of Northumberland, in 2005, the Poison Garden, located within Alnwick Garden is famous for the more than 100 deadly and hallucinogenic plants that it houses.

Poison Garden gate
Image credit: Duncan Andison/Corbis(taken from)

Located within the Alnwick Garden, the Poison Garden sprawls behind the large iron gate marking its entry, made conspicuous by the large sign across its middle, with a very simple yet looming sentence – “These plants can kill.”

Walk though tunnel to Poison Garden
Walk though tunnel to Poison Garden. Image credit: Margaret Whittaker(taken from)

Jane Percy, after becoming the Duchess of Northumberland in 1995, was asked to do something with the gardens which was, at the time, a sprawling wilderness. The result was the Alnwick Garden, stretching out across 14 acres, and attracting visitors from across the world every year.

Ricinus communis, castor oil plant
Ricinus communis, castor oil plant.The seeds from the castor bean plant, Ricinus communis, are poisonous to people, animals and insects. Image credit: Margaret Whittaker(taken from)

However, she was also aware of the fact that there needed to be “something really unique” in the garden if it were to grab people’s attention. “Let’s try and do something really different,” said Percy, and the result was the Poison Garden.

Monkshood is extremely poisonous—a person could kill an entire village by putting the plant’s roots in a drinking well. Image credit: Margaret Whittaker(taken from)

Inspired by the similar Medici garden in Italy, the Duchess decided that it would be a good idea to replicate it in England. And while many may find this a slightly outrageous idea, the Duchess has a very good reason: “I wondered why so many gardens around the world focused on the healing power of plants rather than their ability to kill… I felt that most children I knew would be more interested in hearing how a plant killed, how long it would take you to die if you ate it and how gruesome and painful the death might be.”

Nicandra is a genus of flowering plant in the nightshade family. Image credit: Margaret Whittaker(taken from)

She set out to collect the 100 species of poisonous plants that would later come to populate the Poison Garden; her only criteria for the selection was that the plants had to tell a good story.

angel's trumpet flower
In Victorian England, women used to put pollen from the angel’s trumpet flower in their tea to induce LSD-like hallucinations. In large doses, Angel’s Trumpet is deadly. Image credit: Margaret Whittaker(taken from)

Owing to the poisonous properties of the plants in the Poison Garden, visitors are explicitly prohibited from touching, smelling, or tasting any of the flora. This doesn’t ensure absolute safety, though; seven people fainted from inhaling toxic fumes in the summer of 2013.

The Duchess also grows cannabis and cocaine in the garden, which promote the garden’s educational endeavour with regard to drug education.

A cannabis plant
A cannabis plant in the Poison Garden.Image credit: Duncan Andison/Corbis(taken from)

Most of these plants, says the Duchess – and the teeming crowds at the garden would agree – are “very interesting”, despite their potential to kill.
[source: www.smithsonianmag.com]

Find us on YouTube Bizarre Case of Gloria Ramirez, AKA “The Toxic Lady”
Picture England’s Poison Garden Has Some Of The Deadliest Plants On The Planet. It’s Surreal.
You May Also Like
10 of the Weirdest Birds You Never Knew Existed Picture
10 Unbelievable Facts About Space Picture
This Is What Everyday Foods Look Like Before they Are Harvested Picture
The Mysterious Disappearance Of The Sri Lankan Handball Team Picture
How Were Dinosaur Fossils Not Discovered Until The 1800s? Picture
Why Does Time Go Faster As We Grow Older? Picture
Why Aren’t Planes Getting Faster? Picture
10 Events That Can Wipe Out Humanity Picture