noxious weed reasons/ way off topic

Burger, Steve
Mon, 29 Jan 2007 18:34:36 PST
I too feel I need to highlight something here:

 "Conium maculatum (which has killed one child here)"

I really don't want to do overkill here, nor be wild on semantics but the plant didn't "kill" anyone, someone's ingestion of the plant killed him/herself. The fact that it is a child is tragic yet can we child-proof the outside?

I'm really not a total "personal responsibility" "Nazi" (as a matter of fact I don't care for the politics of those who tend to harp on that subject...uhummm)however...

There is a real logistical issue with having toxic plants removed from public areas.  Most plants aren't suitable for human consumption and very many a super toxic, even many of our own food crops if not prepared correctly or if the wrong part of the plant is consumed.

Any above ground part of potato and for that matter all of its relatives (one shouldn't eat any of the nightshade's parts that aren't normally on the table....tomato, bell peppers, eggplant etc. stems and leaves not so good for ya!)

The genus Taxus has many toxic members(if not all) and it's not so much the red berry but the seed in the middle or the foliage and the stems.

Most ericaceous plants are at least somewhat toxic

Hydrocyanic acid is a common component in the genus Prunus in stems, leaves and pits, yet we all eat the cherries, plums, apricots, almonds, peaches and the like that grow from them.  

Many more plants are toxic, including the oleanders, nightshades and poison hemlocks we all know.  

With the common-ness of toxic plants established I would think that the metric should be...

1) No plants that are commonly known to cause dermatitis should be easily accessed at parks intended for children, since children tend to be very tactile. So I can even see removal of the native poison ivies and oaks that live around our parks.

2) No plants with toxic fruit that look yummy in places often frequented by children!!! Like the trees in Star know the episode, the hippies going to paradise.  I really can't think of many that are very toxic (hollies are purgative-so the kid pukes, dogwoods are edible if not too gross... mayapples I think are toxic, pyracantha, might be inviting,...I don't think they're poisonous?)  Anyway, they should be avoided.

3) Continue to grow all of the beautiful plants that we grow regardless of their toxicity in all other settings.  I don't think it is possible or reasonable to cleanse our public gardens of all hazards.  I would think bees are more hazardous since many more people are walking around as potential (and unknown) victims of anaphylaxis than are likely to eat a poisonous plant.  We certainly shouldn't remove all plants pollinated by bees.

OK so sorry for the rant.  Like I said, I'm no personal responsibility nut, however, I think this more an issue of what looks like sound reason, protecting children, being in reality an untenable position.

Oh and Diane, I love it that you care for children enough to advocate for them.  I have three and wish I could have twelve.  So I respect your desire to protect them more than you might think.  I just think you're up against more than you might realize.

Steve Burger
Dallas Ga, USA 7b

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Terry Hernstrom
Sent: Sunday, January 28, 2007 02:01 PM
To: 'Pacific Bulb Society'
Subject: Re: [pbs] noxious weed reasons/ way off topic

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Diane Whitehead
Sent: Saturday, January 27, 2007 2:56 PM
To: Pacific Bulb Society
Subject: Re: [pbs] noxious weed reasons

Diane wrote:

"Being deadly to humans doesn't necessarily count, and it took me a
while to get Conium maculatum (which has killed one child here)
removed from a public garden."

As a director of a 'Public Garden' This comment disturbs me somewhat. While
very aware of the responsibility of the safety and welfare of visitors to
our gardens, banning species and varieties, takes us down a slippery slope.
What next? Will there be a movement to remove the oleander, solanums, and
lantanas? Will people be marching outside our gates demanding the removal of
the euphorbias, hyacinths and artemisias because they can make your skin
itch?  Will the city council pass a resolution banning roses, cacti and
agaves because someone might get poked? Taking a quick assessment of any
garden you will most likely find more poisonous and dangerous plants than

Personal responsibility has to come into play. Everyone, especially
children, must realize a garden is fraught with danger No one is allowed to
just willy nilly touch and ingest as one pleases. After welcoming children
to our gardens for tours my next line is 'Please do not touch or taste
anything in the garden!!!' A short explanation follows as to why. Just as
you have to explain the perils of crossing a street, visiting a garden or a
park, there can be danger in innocent behavior.

I don't intend this diatribe to be critical of Diane. Death of a child is
tragic and public reaction is called for. But education is more reasonable
than banning or removal. Our gardens will suffer if limits are placed upon
us what we can grow and what not.

There is much debate on 'invasive species' or 'alien organisms'. I have not
taken sides yet, I am listening and learning.
I do recommend an interesting book; 'Invasion Biology, Critique of a
Pseudoscience' by David I. Theodoropoulos. It certainly provides a
compelling and alternate view of this subject.

Terry Hernstrom
Director, Gardens & Grounds
Kimberly Crest House and Gardens
Redlands, CA

pbs mailing list

pbs mailing list

More information about the pbs mailing list