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Aconitum napellus

Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:28 pm
by ina
Blimey - didn't know a little flower could be as poisonous as that!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-29949698

Seems he died after just handling the plant...

Re: Aconitum napellus

Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:51 pm
by Green Aura
I thought it was quite a common flower, popular because of it's late flowering - or am I thinking of something else.

I do know we looked at it when I planted my first garden, back in Gtr Manchester and dismissed it because our gal was tiny.

Re: Aconitum napellus

Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:24 am
by MKG
ina wrote:Blimey - didn't know a little flower could be as poisonous as that! ...


And nor does anyone else, Ina. It's fairly typical lax journalism, full of surmise and assumption. There's no doubt that the plant is very toxic - but merely brushing against it is unlikely to be fatal. Pulling it out with bare hands and then not washing them before eating - that'll do it. Handling it roughly when you have cuts on your hands - that'll do it. Although the networked article doesn't say it explicitly (no doubt in the interests of cheapo scaremongering) it is only surmise at this point in time that the plant had anything to do with the man's death, and certainly no one is ever going to KNOW that he merely brushed against it, as there was no one else there at the time.

Anyone remember the ferocious ladybird tales from hot summers of the 1970s?

Re: Aconitum napellus

Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:33 am
by ina
MKG wrote: Pulling it out with bare hands and then not washing them before eating - that'll do it. Handling it roughly when you have cuts on your hands - that'll do it.


Yeah, I thought it would have had to be something like that...

Re: Aconitum napellus

Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:42 pm
by doofaloofa
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aconitum_napellus

"Like other species in the genus, A. napellus contains several poisonous compounds, including enough cardiac poison that it was used on spears and arrows for hunting and battle in ancient times. A. napellus has a long history of use as a poison, with cases going back thousands of years. During the ancient Roman period of European history, the plant was often used to eliminate criminals and enemies, and by the end of the period it was banned and anyone growing A. napellus could have been legally sentenced to death. Aconites have been used more recently in murder plots; they contain the chemical alkaloids aconitine, mesaconitine, hypaconitine and jesaconitine, which are highly toxic."

Re: Aconitum napellus

Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2014 8:59 pm
by diggernotdreamer
The toxins are absorbed through the skin on the hands, instead of getting gastro intestinal symptoms that you would with ingestion, it will go up the arm causing paralysis and into the heart.

Re: Aconitum napellus

Posted: Sun Nov 09, 2014 9:30 am
by ina
And I suppose it'll work more quickly if you have scratches on your hands, as is most likely in the case of gardeners. And then there are those hardy folk who don't believe in washing their hands a lot, or using plasters on little scratches, so this might add up. (This is all speculation - I'm not saying that it was the case here!) I'm just in the process of pruning some very prickly shrubs back ( in preparation for a shed being erected on Tuesday - otherwise I would leave it til later in the year, until the birds have had all the berries) - and I pulled out a lot of foxglove not long ago. Can't remember whether I wore gloves - I don't often (but need to for the shrubs). This makes me think. Maybe I'd better be more careful in future.