This morning myself and Dan were clearing out a herbaceous border that hadn’t had attention in a while. Sometimes people think gardening is simple, but I’m not sure why, plants are damn complicated. And not being straightforward means that we often have to ask each other,
‘Is this a weed?’ Because there are thousands of different weeds and if they grow huge or are attractive, then it’s easy to assume a weed is a carefully chosen ornamental plant, of which there are also thousands.
So Dan asked me if a plant was a weed, and I guessed yes because it was too close to a shrub, but still, it was huge and attractive, with pretty purple flowers. I picked some to get a photo, trying to arrange them on the grass, while Dan started googling purple weed, but got nowhere. I had a feeling that these flowers reminded me of something else, maybe something like Solanum? (there’s an ornamental Solanum, but tomatoes are Solanum too). Meanwhile Dan was rubbing the leaves under his nose to see if they smelt of anything familiar.
‘Oh yeah, they do look a bit like Solanum,’ said Dan, squashing a leaf against his cheek thoughtfully. Then a worrying thought occurred to me,
‘Isn’t Deadly Nightshade a Solanum, Dan? Dan, maybe stop rubbing it on your face.’ I said, beginning to panic I googled. Yeah, Deadly nightshade is exactly what it was. One of the most poisonous plants we have in England. Cue frantic seeking out of water and searching symptoms and cures, and waiting for hallucination, seizures, death.
Pretty though. And we discovered that Deadly Nightshade is ok so long as you don’t eat any of it and wash it off immediately. And women used to drip juice of it into their eyes to make their pupils big. So it’s been educational.
Word of the day: phthartic – deadly; destructive