THE POISON GARDEN website      Arum maculatum berries on a Cannabis leaf 


This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Saturday 21st January 2012

Back in July, I wrote about the accidental poisoning of two giraffes at the zoo in Tucson after they were fed with oleander cuttings from hedges around the zoo. At the time, I noted that the zoo had started fund-raising to have the oleander bushes removed. A look at the zoo’s website shows that removal went ahead in September but, it appears, local garden contractors offered their services free of charge so, perhaps, other fund-raising didn’t suffer.

Now, comes a story from Bermuda of the death of eight cows from suspected oleander poisoning. Though it doesn't sat, I'm assuming the plant concerned is Nerium oleander rather than Thevetia peruviana, yellow oleander, as the latter is more usually associated with Asia. The incident occurred last November and the linked story reports the results of testing that has confirmed that the animals died after being fed oleander leaves. It is suggested that this was an accident resulting from an unknown member of the public including the toxic leaves in a mixture of foliage fed to the cattle as a treat but the farmer concerned accepts that the actual route by which the poisoning occurred will never be known.

Nerium oleander

Nerium oleander

There is a lot of oleander in Bermuda and there is no recollection of a similar incident before. The affected cattle were in a pen so I would think that farmers in Bermuda may, in future, take precautions against cattle in enclosures being fed by the public. In the UK, we’re so sensitive to the various diseases that can affect cattle that the notion of free access to penned cattle strikes as bizarre.

Though I don’t suppose that it played any part in this incident, it started me thinking that there could be unforeseen consequences from the perceived obsession with health and safety. I wonder if people will come to assume that all hazards have been removed, based on the various media reports alleging excessive attention to minor hazards, and, as a result, assume that whatever they come across must be safe.

I don’t want to be guilty of creating the hysteria about poisonous plants that I frequently condemn in others but one of the reasons plants cause so few problems is that people are wary of the unknown. If that wariness were dispelled by the assumption that all hazards have been removed it could lead to problems.

There was another aspect of this story that struck me. I’ve said before that I find it frustrating that many stories about poisoning are not followed through to a conclusion. You read that such and such a plant is suspected as being behind some incident and tests are being conducted but the result of the tests is never reported. On this occasion, the reverse seems to have happened.

I didn’t see any report of the incident when it happened, in November 2011 and the first I knew of it was the story linked to above which does give as firm a conclusion as possible. I’ve now found this one story but it makes no mention of poisoning so it is no wonder I didn’t see it.

It’s set me thinking that it might be worth looking back at some of the previous stories I’ve written about to see if I can find any later information. 


Full Entries


Tuesday 25th October 2016
Saturday 20th August 2016
Sunday 6th March 2016
Wednesday 3rd February 2016


Saturday 28th November 2015
Friday 27th November 2015
Monday 17th August 2015
Wednesday 15th July 2015
Friday 26th June 2015
Thursday 25th June 2015
Thursday 30th April 2015
Wednesday 29th April 2015
Wednesday 11th March 2015
Tuesday 3rd March 2015
Saturday 28th February 2015
Sunday 22nd February 2015

November 2014

Monday 24th November 2014
Saturday 8th November 2014

October 2014

September 2014

Wednesday 24th September 2014
Monday 1st September 2014

August 2014

Tuesday 26th August 2014
Saturday 16th August 2014
Tuesday 5th August 2014
Friday 1st August 2014

July 2014

Sunday 27th July 2014
Wednesday 23rd July 2014
Sunday 13th July 2014
Sunday 6th July 2014
Tuesday 1st July 2014

June 2014

Wednesday 25th June 2014
Tuesday 24th June 2014
Sunday 22nd June 2014
Monday 9th June 2014
Wednesday 4th June 2014

May 2014

Monday 26th May 2014
Sunday 18th May 2014
Wednesday 14th May 2014

April 2014

Sunday 13th April 2014
Saturday 5th April 2014
Thursday 3rd April 2014
Tuesday 1st April 2014

March 2014

Monday 31st March 2014
Tuesday 25th March 2014
Friday 21st March 2014
Monday 17th March 2014
Sunday 16th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Tuesday 11th March 2014
Thursday 6th March 2014
Wednesday 5th March 2014
Saturday 1st March 2014

February 2014

Thursday 27th February 2014
Monday 24th February 2014
Wednesday 19th February 2014
Monday 17th February 2014
Thursday 13th February 2014
Monday 4th February 2014
Monday 3rd February 2014
Saturday 1st February 2014

January 2014

Thursday 28th January 2014
Thursday 23rd January 2014
Friday 17th January 2014
Wednesday 15th January 2014
Monday 13th January 2014
Thursday 9th January 2014
Tuesday 7th January 2014
Wednesday 1st January 2014

December 2013

Monday 23rd December 2013
Friday 20th December 2013
Tuesday 17th December 2013
Friday 14th December 2013
Thursday 12th December 2013
Sunday 8th December 2013
Wednesday 4th December 2013
Sunday 1st December 2013

November 2013

Friday 29th November 2013
Wednesday 27th November 2013
Tuesday 26th November 2013
Friday 22nd November 2013
Monday 18th November 2013
Friday 15th November 2013
Thursday 14th November 2013
Sunday 10th November 2013
Thursday 7th November 2013
Wednesday 6th November 2013
Friday 1st November 2013

October 2013

Thursday 31st October 2013
Sunday 27th October 2013
Wednesday 23rd October 2013
Monday 21st October 2013
Friday 18th October 2013
Friday 11th October 2013
Wednesday 9th October 2013
Tuesday 8th October 2013
Monday 7th October 2013
Tuesday 1st October 2013

September 2013

Monday 30th September 2013
Saturday 28th September 2013
Friday 27th September 2013
Monday 23rd September 2013
Sunday 15th September 2013
Monday 9th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

August 2013

Sunday 8th September 2013
Tuesday 3rd September 2013
Sunday 1st September 2013

Tuesday 27th August 2013
Sunday 25th August 2013
Monday 19th August 2013
Friday 16th August 2013
Tuesday 13th August 2013
Friday 9th August 2013
Friday 2nd August 2013
Thursday 1st August 2013

July 2013

Saturday 27th July 2013
Sunday 21st July 2013
Wednesday 17th July 2013
Monday 15th July 2013
Saturday 13th July 2013
Friday 12th July 2013
Thursday 11th July 2013
Wednesday 10th July 2013
Tuesday 9th July 2013
Saturday 6th July 2013

June 2013

Friday 28th June 2013
Tuesday 25th June 2013
Friday 21st June 2013
Thursday 20th June 2013
Wednesday 19th June 2013
Saturday 15th June 2013
Sunday 9th June 2013
Saturday 8th June 2013
Saturday 1st June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012 blog

June 2012 blog

May 2012 blog

April 2012 blog

March 2012 blog

February 2012 blog

January 2012 blog

December 2011 blog

November 2011 blog

October 2011 blog

September 2011 blog

August 2011 blog

July 2011 blog

June 2011 blog


The POISON GARDEN website is not connected with Alnwick Garden Enterprises Ltd and/or The Alnwick Garden Trust.