August 26th – It is time again for the annual warning: there’s a killer in the hedgerows right now. These stalks of bright orange-red berries grow in hedges, woodlands and other scrub, and grow 6-10 inches tall. Very distinctive, Lords and Ladies is very attractive, particularly to kids, but is one of the most toxic plants in the British Isles. These examples were growing in the hedgerows of Hamstall Ridware and Hoar Cross.
The berries of Arum Maculatum, also known as Devils and Angels, Cuckoo Pint or Wild Arum contain a poison that causes swelling of the mouth and throat and sickness. Fatality is rare, as the berries are very acid and consuming enough to kill would be a challenge, but the plant causes most admissions to A&E for plant poisoning in the UK.
It’s a gorgeous thing to look at, just don’t touch it. This one worries me, as it grows at a height such that small kids spot straight away, and the beautiful colour is very attractive to them. Be careful.