In the woods near me grows edible Wild Garlic and during Spring it fills the air with a strong garlic scent. But often the leaves are mistaken for Lily of the Valley and this leads to cases of poisoning every year.
I would never forage in the wild for fungi or other edible plants unless I had an expert with me, the consequences of getting it wrong can be deadly serious. As a rule of thumb it’s suggested that rubbing the leaves to check for a garlic-like smell is a good indicator you have the right plant, but I still think I would go with an expert, and what if the smell is still on my hands when I check the next plant. What would you do?
Talking of poisonous plants the daffodil which is a member of the Narcissus family also appears in spring. It contains an alkoloid called lycorine which is toxic and can be highly poisonous, even lethal if enough of the bulb is eaten. The similarity to onion bulbs means mistakes can be made, as happened at a primary school when a daffodil bulb was added to soup during a cookery class which caused illness in children.
Florists have been known to suffer from “daffodil itch” a kind of dermatitis which causes dryness, scaling, redness of the skin which is caused by exposure to calcium oxalate a poisonous substance found in the sap of the daffodil.
Yet the daffodil is cultivated for medical reasons. Traditional Japanese medicine used wheat flour paste and the root of narcissus to treat wounds, although nowadays the plant is no longer listed in the modern kampo herb list.
Nowadays daffodils are grown commercially and in fields near me row upon row of yellow flowers stretch the length of the field.
A chemical called galantamine, used in a drug to combat Alzheimers disease is produced from the daffodil.
Well that’s it for this week. Next week I’m on holiday with limited access to the internet. What would we do without these days? I might be able to get a post together but if not I’ll be back in two weeks and hope you’ll still be with me.
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