Well I’m finishing up my day at Agatha Christie’s Greenway and thought I’d do a post about poisons! During World War II, Christie again worked as a pharmacist and nurse, just like she did in WWI. Her knowledge of medicine influenced her mysterious characters, many of whom died from lethal injection. So I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the plants and what books the poisons were featured in!
Some of the ‘potent’ plants will be familiar, some not:
Aconite (monkshood) has as its symptoms when ingested: rapid onset of symptoms including stomach problems numbness and tingling. Death occurs within hours. Agatha Christie Books; 4:50 From Paddington; They Do It With Mirrors
Aspirin (willow): Well-known headache remedy but toxic in large doses. Appears in many Agatha Christie books; And Then There Were None; Dead Man’s Folly
Belladonna (deadly nighshade). Ancient herbal remedy with unpleasant side effects: Hallucinations, delirium, convulsions. Used in traditional witchcraft. Agatha Christie books; The Caribbean Mystery, The Big Four
Cyanide (prunus family). From the seeds of the prunus family. Potent and rapid, causing breathing difficulties, convulsions, and asphyxia. Agatha Christie books; Sparkling Cyanide, The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side
Datura (thornapple). Taken by Native American Indians to communicate with spirits. Ingesting Datura causes hallucinations and insanity. Agatha Christie books; Sleeping Murder, The Cretan Bull.
Ricin (castor oil plant). Slow acting poison from a popular bedding plant. Ricin causes violent stomach ache and kidney failure. Agatha Christie book; The House of Lurking Death.
Gelsemium (yellow jasmine). A small dose causes double vision, wellness and nervous system problems. A larger dose equals death. Agatha Christie book; The Big Four.
Hyoscyamine (henbane). Traditional herb of witchcraft. Causes stomach upset, excessive salivation, headaches and convulsions. Agatha Christie book; A Pocketful of Rye
Morphine (poppy). Derived, like heroin, from the infamous Poppy, poisoned victims slip quickly into a lethal sleep. Agatha Christie books; Hickory, Dickory Dock, Sad Cypress
Nicotine (nicotania). Highly toxic and easily absorbed, symptoms like vomiting and convulsions precede a quick death. Agatha Christie books; Three Act Trilogy, A Pocketful of Rye
Oxalic Acid (oxalis). Found in many plants in small amounts. Concentrated it causes severe stomach upset, lethargy and death. Agatha Christie books; Murder is Easy, Cards on the Table
Digitalis (foxglove). Effective treatment for heart problems, toxic doses lead to visual disturbances and death. Agatha Christie books; Appointment With Death, Crooked House
Taxine (yew). The symptoms of taxine poison include severe stomach inflammation and pain. Death is from heart failure. Agatha Christie book; A Pocketful of Rye
Hope you enjoyed the poison post! See you tomorrow!