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Just When You Thought It Was Safe.... It Wasn't: The Poison Garden in The Alnwick Garden

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
The Poison Garden Gates From The Inside


Earlier this year I visited The Poison Garden in Alnwick and shocked and surprised a lot of my friends across the water with the fatal capabilities of everyday plants that most people have around their homes. You can check that piece out with the comments here.

This time there was a new plant, possibly the most dangerous one in the world, of course, it is Australian (everything there just wants to kill you, but the weather is great and the people are too, but plants and animals, think again).

We had an American guide around the garden, and when you go through the gates they are locked until you are allowed out maybe twenty-five minutes later.

You are told not to touch, smell, or sample any of the plants in The Poison Garden as everyone can cause pain up to fatality for anyone who gets too close to these dangerous examples of flora.

Last year there were seven ambulances called and one hundred and forty seven people who fainted or worse and had to be treated by medical staff because they had come into contact with something that they shouldn't have.

So here are a few of the stories we heard from our wonderful guide, not these are not for the squeamish among us, so if you do not have a strong constitution, please turn back now.

Deadly Nightshade (Belladonna)

This is also known as "BellaDonna" which is Italian for "beautiful woman", and the juice from those black berries was dripped into the eyes to expand the iris and enhance women's beauty, but the side effects that this causes are horrible.

Belladonna In The Poison Garden

The women's eyes began to cry but the tears were liquid and pus, not pleasant at all.

Apparently, the body has two immune systems, one for the eyes and one for everything else. The juice of the Belladonna affects the flesh of the eye, and the body's immune system does not recognise the eye as part of it and so attacks it.

The pus is the flesh of the eye decomposing, and eventually, the eyes drop out, hence the term "crying your eyes out"

Khat (Catha edulis)

Khat from The Poison Garden

Khat is effectively a drug and over indulgence induces a narcotic effect, rendering the user senseless and may be the source of the phrase "Has The Cat Got Your Tongue".

The guide told us there were cases of the tongue being dissolved , like the eyes by deadly nightshade, but I could not find any documentation supporting this.

Gympie Gympie

Gympie Gympie In It's Own Box In The Poison Garden

Gympie Gympie , so evilly dangerous they named it named it twice.

“Being stung is the worst kind of pain you can imagine – like being burnt with hot acid and electrocuted at the same time”

The guide told us about some soldiers in Queensland during the war. They ran out of toilet paper so their commander went into the bush, did what he had to do, and grabbed a few leaves to clean his bottom. Immediately he was in the pain previously described and some members of his platoon suffered the same fate.

The excruciating pain can last for years and there is no way to treat or cure it. Apparently he lasted three days before he shot himself.

Think of the pain of a nettle or wasp sting,then magnified so much that all you know is that pain. It is no wonder that being stung by this monstrous plant results is the suicide of its victims.


These are three disturbing items in the Poison Garden, this time no everyday flora (check my initial article for some of those), but I hope I have entertained you and maybe disturbed you with these exmples.

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  • Naomi Gold2 months ago

    OMG! What a fascinating and terrifying read, perfect as we head towards October. I’d heard of Belladonna, but not about what it does to the eyes. Never heard of khat or gympie-gympie—how dreadful! “This time there was a new plant, possibly the most dangerous one in the world, of course, it is Australian (everything there just wants to kill you, but the weather is great and the people are too, but plants and animals, think again).” That made me LOL because it’s true. 😆

  • Khat sounds like where Cathy would have gotten her name 🤣🤣🤣 I enjoyed reading this!

  • And I've always just worried about poison ivy, oak & sumac.

  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Mike, I wouldn't ant to be close to these deadly plants!!! Thank you for the virtual tour!!!

  • Rachel Deeming2 months ago

    Oh my goodness. That story about the Australian soldiers. Great article, Mike.

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    I’m going to make a salad out of every plant in this garden! Great work!

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