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Alex Douglas-Kane shares her experiences and understanding of Discover Nature Awareness

Monday, 19 April 2010

Important Teachings from a Plant...

As I sat looking at the leaf and trying to identify it, I was unable to find it in the four books that I had on plant identification.

Some books had photos; one was line drawings and the other colour illustrations. Surely it must be in one of these books. As I know from bird guides the pictures can be different from book to book, depending on when the book was run, the colour could be strong at the beginning of the print run and weak at the end of it, or the artist style of drawing is not suited to your eye and so on.

How was I to identify this plant? I know I will do the taste test, so I broke a very small piece of the leaf off and placed it on my bottom lip, within seconds I was having a reaction. It was burning and irritating my skin, I got rid of it straight away. I began to panic, what was this? What was happening to me? My God I hope I am not going to die. Then I began to tune into the plant and I settled down, still very unsure as to what might happen, but none the less I surrendered to the process.

After sometime, which in fact seemed like forever the sensation started to fade and I was feeling OK. It was then that I found the plant in one of the books. It was Lords and Lady’s (Arum maculatum). Since that day I have had no trouble in identifying this plant. I am of course not recommending that you should try this out yourself, in fact DO NOT consume any plant that you have not correctly identified, that was my lesson.

The plant can irritate the skin, mouth, tongue, and throat, resulting in throat swelling, breathing difficulties, burning pain, and stomach upset. The acrid taste and the tingling in the mouth which begins quite quickly, mean that large amounts are rarely ingested.

Click on picture to go The Poison Garden web site.

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