Prisoners in the poison garden

poison ivy in a cageI took this photo last summer at Blarney Castle* in Ireland. The castle’s grounds contain a wonderful variety of gardens — jungle, Himalayan, bog, fern, and more — as well as the poison garden.

The castle’s web page describes it this way: “Hidden behind the castle battlements, you will find the new poison garden, which you must enter at your own risk. In this garden, the plants are so dangerous and toxic that they may be kept in large cage-like structures.… ”

Why is this plant behind bars? Because it’s poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans. You have to be protected from it. Study it carefully, and if you see it in the wild, back away slowly.

This garden also grows wolfsbane, mandrake, and other plants that have medical or toxic properties, or were once believed to have an effect on humans.

I also saw a scraggly little plant growing inside a big cage: a marijuana seedling. That plant was being protected from us.

*I didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone. I gab too much already.

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