“In 1856 a dinner party in the Scottish village of Dingwall came to a horrible end A servant had been sent outside to dig up horseradish, but instead he uprooded aconite, also called monkshood. The cook, failing to recognized that she had been handed the wrong ingredient, grated it into a sauce for the roast and promptly killed two priests who were guests at the dinner. Other guests were sickened but survived.”
So begins Amy Stewart’s “Wicked Plants,” and things don’t get any less interesting from there. There are trees that shed toxic daggers, another that can poison any animal that eats an animal killed by its poison, and a plant that may have caused visitors to a garden to pass out on hot days due to mere proximity.
This book was really entertaining, even though I’m not a gardener, know almost nothing about plants, and can’t even keep a houseplant alive (the baby and the cats tell me when they are hungry, plants just quietly die before I notice). It is a great book to read in short bursts, since no section is more than a few pages long, but it is also diverting enough to read for 30 or more minutes at a time. Stewart wrote about plants that are deadly, dangerous, or simply intoxicating, highlighting certain plants and grouping together other plants with similar effects. Her writing kept things interesting, although perhaps that isn’t difficult to do with her subject matter.
‘Wicked Plants” was perfect for me as the first book to read after Daniel was born, I could read as much or as little as I wanted and I stayed interested. This would be great as a little coffee table or side table book, as a bathroom book for those who like bathroom books, or just to pick up and read. I liked it.