Agatha Christie’s Potent Plants

Monkshood
Monkshood

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

Willow
Willow

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

Deadly Nightshade
Deadly Nightshade

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

Japanese Cherry Tree
Japanese Cherry Tree

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

Thornapple
Thornapple

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.

Caster Oil Plant
Caster Oil Plant

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.

Yellow Jasmine
Yellow Jasmine

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.

Henbane
Henbane

Hyoscyamine (henbane). Traditional herb of witchcraft. Causes stomach upset, excessive salivation, headaches and convulsions. Agatha Christie book; A Pocketful of Rye

Poppy
Poppy

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

Nicotiana
Nicotiana

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

Oxalis
Oxalis

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

Foxglove
Foxglove

Digitalis (foxglove). Effective treatment for heart problems, toxic doses lead to visual disturbances and death. Agatha Christie books; Appointment With Death, Crooked House

Yew
Yew

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!

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