Wicked Plants on exhibit in San Francisco
(Totnesmartin photo/Wikimedia Commons)
San Francisco’s gorgeous Conservatory of Flowers is hosting an exhibit titled “Wicked Plants,” all about poisonous plants and their place in history, from the lethal ricin-producing castor bean, to hemlock — aka “dead men’s oatmeal” (above), to white snakeroot, the weed that did in Abe Lincoln’s mom. The exhibit is named for Amy Stewart’s book “Wicked Plants: Botanical Rogues & Assassins” that tells true tales of these fearful flora. For example, in 1978, Bulgarian dissident journalist Georgi Markov was assassinated with a poke to his leg from an umbrella tipped with ricin. From the Conservatory of Flowers:
As visitors enter the exhibition, they find themselves in a mysterious, untended yard behind a ramshackle old Victorian home. Peeking through the window, it’s clear that a crime has just taken place. A man is slumped over on a table, a goblet in his lifeless hand, as the lady of the house flees in the background. Crows caw, and a rusty gate creaks. In the overgrown garden, moss covered statues rise up out of an unruly thicket of alluring plants. Beautiful flowers and glistening berries bewitch the eye, but consider yourself warned – these plants have names like deadly nightshade, poison hemlock and white snakeroot. Here lurk some of the greatest killers of all time.
“Wicked Plants: Botanical Rogues & Assassins” (Conservatory of Flowers)